published Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

Corker introduces bill to tackle the deficit

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    U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday to discuss the introduction of the CAP Act, a bipartisan bill that would put binding caps on all federal spending. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The federal government currently takes in a lot less revenue than it spends, and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker has a plan to flip that equation on its head.

On Tuesday, Corker, R-Tenn., introduced a bill with U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., that would require Congress to cap all spending at a "declining level" of the country's gross domestic product over the next decade.

Entitled the CAP Act, which stands for the Commitment to American Prosperity Act, the legislation would slowly bring federal spending to 20.6 percent of GDP, down from its current level of 24.7 percent, according to Corker. The target of 20.6 percent of gross domestic product is the average of federal spending over 1970-2008.

The bill "forces us absolutely to prioritize, so there's no question it will constrain us," Corker said at a news conference unveiling the proposal.

"The toughest thing we have around here, though, is cutting existing programs because they all have constituencies, but there's no question that this bill will force us to do it," he said.

Under the legislation, Congress could only override the declining spending cap if two-thirds of the members in both the House and Senate voted to do so.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Georgia Republican Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson are also original co-sponsors of the legislation.

The bill caps all federal spending, which includes both discretionary programs—the annual appropriations budget that includes such items as defense and education spending—and mandatory programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

"What this bill forces us to do is to look at Social Security and Medicare for the long haul," Corker added.

When pressed on what specific discretionary programs the senators could go after to find budget savings, all the sponsors refused to single out any particular agency's budget that they would want to see cut.

"This is a macro approach and if we take micro examples and try and apply them, all you are going to end up doing is creating animosity ... toward looking at it in total," Isakson said.

If enacted, the proposal would force the Office of Management and Budget to abide by the spending cap if Congress ever proved incapable of making the cuts itself, which would mean the executive agency would be tasked with cutting the budget for popular programs such as Social Security.

"This bill is all about causing waves. It's all about helping Congress get the backbone to say 'no,'" said McCaskill, the bill's sole Democratic co-sponsor, who admitted that supporting the legislation could keep her from being re-elected in 2012.

Last week, the Congressional Budget Office reported that the national deficit will reach a record of more than $1.5 trillion in fiscal year 2011—a figure that has lawmakers in both parties concerned.

Corker says he hopes his legislation can be brought to a vote before Congress has to vote to raise the federal debt ceiling.

The McCaskill-Corker proposal is just the latest proposal in a litany of procedural cures—lacking in any specifics—for the nation's deficit woes. Several lawmakers have proposed amending the Constitution to require a balanced budget, a proposal that seems to have virtually no chance of being adopted with the requisite two-thirds majority of both House and Senate. But they allow lawmakers to look tough on spending without offering any painful solutions.

"Despite their posture of making tough choices, these are 'Look, Ma, no hands' proposals," Bob Greenstein, founder of the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told The Associated Press. "But make no mistake about it—they would lead to enormous changes affecting nearly all Americans."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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jpo3136 said...

This bill, if passed into law, would take no effect on the budget until 2013. It's a time-delay attack on future budgets by making massive cuts in Social Security possible.

It's beneficial to some politicians because if they don't get their way, then they can blame the 2012 elections for the damage this bill will due to Social Security payouts.

If they do get their way, they have time to undo the damage that this will do to Social Security payments.

Meanwhile, if passed before it can have bearing on an election, this legislation will allow politicians like Senator Corker to claim that they have cut federal spending while, in practice, in any year up until 2013, they will have not.

For details on how this bill will fail to cut anything until 2013, and on how it is likely to attack Social Security payouts, please refer to Senator Corker's website. They distribute an interesting fact sheet which tells us just what kind of damage this law will do and when.

Thank you, Senator Corker, for telling us how this legislation you propose will not be effective for several years, and then when it does do something, you plan to use it to cut off Social Security benefits to voters over 65.

A poor plan, considering that it has no impact on the Senator's continued support for the massive and destructive Bush Tax Cuts for the Wealthy that provide enormous sums to rich people just for being rich.

We look forward to seeing Senator Corker's support for PAYGO, the only proven legitimate method for balancing the budget to date.

We hope that Senator Corker will withdraw this suggestion that he and Senator Alexander directly cut off Social Security payments to voters over 65.

February 2, 2011 at 12:36 a.m.
hambone said...

I see that Mr. Corker relies on the OMB to get his figures here.

Funny how the House thinks the OMB is wrong when it says repealing the health bill will increase the debt!

February 2, 2011 at 1:04 a.m.
XMarine said...

IF we lose any SS benefits because of these RED neck conservative states there's gonna be another civil war & it AIN'T gonna be pretty.Millionaire redneck politicians playing with our lives & keep getting voted in because they only say what public wants to hear & then it's the same ole same ole.Stupid country & getting more stupid.

February 2, 2011 at 5:01 a.m.
dfclapp said...

This is a well-reasoned bipartisan approach to a multi-year solution endorsed by an outstanding senator who truly knows financial matters from the inside out. It is the best chance we have of coming to grips with a problem that no politician or voter finds appetizing, but that has to be done. It has been talked about to no effect for over a decade. It cannot be cured overnight, but can be dismantled over time with this approach.

February 2, 2011 at 5:45 a.m.
ceeweed said...

Where's your priorities? You all haven't finished dismantling public workers unions. You haven't repealed health care either. heavens knows, people drawing SSI are living way to high on the hog, but don't you all have something more urgent to dismantle?

February 2, 2011 at 6:52 a.m.
alohaboy said...

Lowering the feds to 20.6% of the GDP would slow the rate of growth of the debt to about 2.7% but not stop it. And it will be 10 years before we get there. I'm on SSI and haven't liked it being frozen the past two years while prices of nearly everything I have to buy have risen but as long as I'm alive, I'll live within my means. I wish the government would do the same.

February 2, 2011 at 8:13 a.m.
BOOBOO99 said...

Bob Corker is a Joke. He is the biggest crook in Tennessee, he will steal from the poor and give to the rich.That is Corker's Motto.Bob Corker would pawn his own kids for more money and power..He is EVIL.

February 2, 2011 at 10:47 a.m.

Don't blame the messenger. Blame the crooks who told us that we could retire on a ponzi scheme - one that our grandchildren will go broke over and that hangs us out on a limb made in China. We are what's wrong with the world.

February 2, 2011 at 2:02 p.m.
EaTn said...

Like all right-wing messages, there's a little truth that they use to fill in their entire version of what they want us to believe is a fact. There are many solutions to our fiscal policy, but the right want all to believe that the problem is entitlements and such. The truth is that they want to protect the wealth distribution of this country, even to the extent forcing millions more into poverty.

February 2, 2011 at 2:24 p.m.
rockman12 said...

If you truly want to cut the deficit, throw the lobbyists out of Washington and give the President line item veto powers. These same people that sponsored this bill spend millions of dollars in their own districts in order to get votes but they want to cut the programs that we need. If we ever want to compete on a global level you can't cut education spending. American children are already behind China's and India's and the gap is getting worse. Better yet, if you want to cut the deficit and promote responsible spending don't let anyone that makes more than $50,000 a year run for political office. Those are the people that have to make constant decisions on what to pay or buy because they cannot just spend money and not worry about it. I has always amazed me that politicians spend millions of dollars to win a job that pays about $175,000 a year anyways. And then people wonder why they can't be responsible when they are spending our tax dollars or balance a budget.

February 2, 2011 at 3:57 p.m.

If Little Bob Corker wants to right a wrong involving careless spending of taxpayer dollars he should write a check to the City of Chattanooga for all the maintenance and repairs required to keep the storied and vaunted 21st Century Waterfront functioning and presentable...Or we can keep running the lighting for same on disposable propane cylinders...

February 2, 2011 at 4:17 p.m.

Demonizing those who didn't bite the bait is an act of desperation. My problems are not due to someone else's success. My descendants are not responsible for my gullibility. Please enlighten us as to how any other view is moral.

February 2, 2011 at 5:25 p.m.
hotdiggity said...

Maybe Cokie could go after some of the ongoing fraud in the military. Fat chance.

February 2, 2011 at 6:58 p.m.
yaffay said...

"This is a macro approach and if we take micro examples and try and apply them, all you are going to end up doing is creating animosity ... toward looking at it in total," Isakson said.

In other words, we want to act like we are really doing big things to get spending under control, but we refuse to give even one small example of where we might cut because we fear a backlash from voters.

February 2, 2011 at 8:20 p.m.
potcat said...

Please leave the word MORAL out of any sentences with BIG BOB C and his best friend BIG BILL H.Tennesseans LOVE electing Billionaires. 99% of the people who gave us this duo voted agianst thier own economical incentives. Please enough with the finacial GENius crap.BIG bob made a fortune in corporate WELFARE! Have someone build you a building and rent it to the GOV. BRILLIANT!BIG bill got it from Grandpappy. I cringe just thinking about how much pleasure they wallowed in when all their secret planning came true election night. Thunder T. bob; bill high fives all night long and i have a feeling they have bigger plans.

February 10, 2011 at 2:22 p.m.

Corker cracks me up with his figures of mayham.

March 5, 2011 at 4:37 p.m.
acerigger said...

There’s talkthat the McCaskill-Corker spending cap will be the cost of raising the debt ceiling. This would be, to put it simply, completely insane. Spending caps are bad policy, and the McCaskill-Corker spending cap — which holds spending to 21.5 percent of GDP, or three percentage points lower than it is right now — is a badly designed spending cap. But beyond all that, it’s laughable to posit it as a compromise: It’s arguably the most radically conservative reform that could be made to the federal budget. More extreme, by far, than Paul Ryan’s plan....

Saying "America has a spending problem" is saying "I don't understand the budget and don’t want to learn anything further about it." We have a health-care costs problem, an aging problem and a taxing problem. But a spending cap has nothing to say about any of these problems.... A spending cap is an effort to deny our real problems, not to fix them. It allows politicians to sound tough and solutions-oriented without forcing them to actually develop any solutions.(per, Ezra Klein

April 21, 2011 at 9:56 p.m.

Corker be like Albert Pike and take a hike.

April 30, 2011 at 2:34 p.m.

Acerigger when it comes to a 'spending cap' the government will never know the meaning of that term or apply it in practice.

May 5, 2011 at 1:47 p.m.
Plato said...

I favor the idea of a cap because without a cap congress does not have the political discipline to stay within a budget and in order to win elections we wind up with the quid pro quos "you vote for my bill and I'll vote for yours".

A similar approach has been introduced by Republican congressman Connie Mack of Florida. He proposes to reduce federal spending by 1% per year but it allows congress to set where and how much to cut. For instance they could keep education funding the same but make up for it by cutting defense X 1.2% etc. If congress cannot agree than the 1% is applied across the board.

All of these ideas should be on the table for discussion and obviously anything that gets voted into law will have to exhibit a bipartisan approach and "shared sacrifice".

June 11, 2011 at 11:22 p.m.
mountainlaurel said...

Corker said: "What this bill forces us to do is to look at Social Security and Medicare for the long haul," Corker added.”

I can’t up my mind if Senator Bob Corker is just being plain dishonest whenever he discusses the matter of Social Security with the public or if Senator Corker is just plain illiterate of the financial facts in regard to the U.S. Social Security System?

In view of the history of the Republicans when it comes to Social Security, I’m leaning more towards the probability that Senator Corker is being plain dishonest, and he is hoping the public doesn’t understand the issues related to Medicare have nothing to do with the U.S. Social Security System, which as we all know can keep all of its promises for decades to come. As economist Dean Baker says: “the only real threat to Social Security comes not from any fiscal or demographic constraints, but from the political assaults on the program by would-be “reformers.” Locally speaking, I guess this would be Senator Corker.

As to Medicare, indeed, if medical care inflation continues, it will be in trouble within the next decade. As economists like Dean Baker point out, the reason for this is because "the fees paid by Medicare are overwhelmingly determined by the private health care system."

August 1, 2011 at 1:10 p.m.
bookworm said...

Who are these people who hurt themselves like lemmings by voting for Corker. Just ecause he says he's a Chrisitan and says Harold Ford likes the Playboy Club; Don't let that make you think he is good for the country. Corker is just a clone for big business who would like nothing better than to get rid of Social Security and limit health care so he can put more money into his pocket. But people just vote for him because he says he's a Christian.

September 7, 2011 at 6:42 a.m.
OmAli said...

OmAli said... If I hear another person say Social Security is a Ponzi scheme I am going to bite someone. Social Security is fully funded for the next 25 years, and even after that can pay 80% of its benefits without any modifications.

Republicans have wanted to destroy YOUR social safety net since its inception, and now Obama and the neoliberals are willing to help them do it.

They have started the process by declaring so called 'payroll tax holidays' that are designed to cut the funding that SS receives through payroll taxes, and replace it from general revenue at a later date. This means that they can then say SS is contributing to the deficit and open it up to budget cuts, which it was designed NOT to do.

Don't fall for this cynical lie that is designed to impoverish you and line the pockets of Wall Street hedge fund managers and the obscenely wealthy, all of whom pay a lower tax rate than you do.

For the past 5 days, people from all walks of life, numbering from 3,000 on Saturday, to hundreds today, are protesting in the financial district in New York to force Wall Street and the banks, who caused this financial catastrophy, to own up to their guilt and responsibility. You won't see it in the papers or mainstream media, because they are owned by the very corporations and wealthy individuals who have stolen and continue to steal the wealth of the nation.

We ought to be in the streets demanding that the politicians stop this insane austerity hysteria. They need to increase marginal tax levels on the wealthy to what they were after WWII, slap a transaction fee on every transaction made on Wall Street, and strip corporations that offshore jobs of their ruinous tax breaks.

We do not have a deficit or spending problem. We have a revenue problem, but that is the last thing you are ever going to hear from the people who are waging class war on you and convincing you to vote and act against your own self interests.

You are going to have to smarten up, and do it fast, or you are going to belong to the serf class that fights for scraps at the foot of the table of the filthy rich who have stolen the wealth of the country by buying the politicians who then create the legislation that makes it possible.

September 21, 2011 at 9:30 p.m.

Corker is nothing more than a slick crook. He did little to nothing for Chattanooga other than use it as a stepping stone. Now he's climbing on the nation.

October 27, 2011 at 10:58 a.m.
joneses said...

So all you dummycrats think it bet to let Hussien Obama spend another 5 trillion dollars to increase the debt? That is what it sounds like.

November 4, 2011 at 8:48 a.m.
joneses said...

The Republican controled House of Representatives have sent twelve bills to the dummycrat controlled Senate that will create jobs. Harry Ried refuses to even introduce these bills to be voted on. So tell me which is the party of "no"? It is obvious it is the dummycrats.

November 4, 2011 at 8:56 a.m.
Rtazmann said...


December 23, 2011 at 6:07 p.m.
Rtazmann said...


December 23, 2011 at 6:32 p.m.





February 24, 2012 at 5:16 p.m.
ducksoup said...

Conservative look to Ronald Reagan as their star President of the recent past. Under his leadership capitol gains taxes were equal to taxes the workers pay on income. I do not think you can cut your way out of this hole without raising revenues too which is a more reasonable approach.

March 15, 2012 at 1:55 a.m.
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