In an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Senator Bob Corker, (R-Tn.), told host Chris Wallace that the country will know President Obama is serious about getting our fiscal house in order when the president “begins to say publicly to the American people…that he understands that Americans are only paying a third of the costs of Medicare, and that has to change for the program to be here down the road.”
Senator Corker said Republicans “understand the real issue driving the deficits that we have in our country are the entitlements, and that's what we want to see solved. We want to see these available for generations to come.”
“I think Republicans, if they saw true entitlement reform, would be glad to look at tax reform that generates additional revenue, and that doesn't mean increasing rates -- that means closing loopholes. It also means arranging our tax system so that we have economic growth. And I think we have been saying that from day one,” said Senator Corker.
Senator Corker said it’s ridiculous to say cutting $1.2 trillion over the next decade is a step too far.
“I think reducing the debt helps create economic growth…I think it's ridiculous to say that cutting $1.2 trillion over the next decade, when we're going to spend $47 trillion of your money, is a step too far. Of course, we need to do that. And on top of that, we need to build towards these entitlement reforms which obviously are creating the huge debt down the road.”
Senator Corker also reacted to President Obama’s remarks earlier in the week that the U.S. doesn’t have an immediate crisis in terms of debt. (Obama said in an interview with ABC News: “We don't have an immediate crisis in terms of debt. In fact, for the next 10 years, it's going to be in a sustainable place.”)
Senator Corker said those comments are disheartening.
“Look, I think it was disappointing to all of us to have the president come in and talking the way that he is. And, by the way, I've attended the dinner. I've been on the phone calls, I've met with the White House, and I appreciate the outreach. But in the midst of that, to act as if this deficit issue is not that important was a little disheartening,” said Senator Corker.
Senator Corker, ranking Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also applauded U.S. placement of missile interceptors in Alaska following recent North Korean nuclear and missile tests but urged the Obama administration to also locate missile defense capabilities on the East Coast to guard against threats from inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). He also questioned the administration’s decision to cancel a portion of the European-based missile defense system originally agreed to as part of Senate negotiations over the New START treaty with Russia.
“I do hope we'll focus on a base on the Eastern side [of the U.S.] with radar facilities. And I think the question is, Chris, how does the non-deployment of the European base system affect us over time? So there are technical issues we'll be getting into this week with the Pentagon and the State Department. But, certainly, I think most all of us applaud the efforts to beef up our missile defense on the West Coast,” Senator Corker said.
Regarding the threat to the U.S. from North Korea, he noted the importance of precautionary measures being taken by the U.S. and China’s ability to change North Korean behavior.
“I don't think they have the mechanisms necessary to really harm us, but it is really good we are taking the precautionary measures to make sure they cannot do damage,” said Senator Corker. “All of us understand the key to this will be China. They are the ones that can actually affect the behavior in North Korea because of the trade issues and certainly the support issues coming from China into North Korea. Hopefully, China sees the threat for nuclear proliferation in that part of the world, in the event they are not able to stop what North Korea is doing.”