published Thursday, August 19th, 2010

Corker calls for halt to ‘wave of debt’

Audio clip

Bob Corker

Facing “a looming wave of debt,” today’s generation of Americans may be the first to leave the nation worse than they found it, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker says.

“You’d be embarrassed if you watched the way Washington spends your money,” the Tennessee Republican said Wednesday at the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting.

  • photo
    Staff photo by Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free Press - Sen. Bob Corker speaks Frank Fischer, with VW, left, and Dr. Jim Catanzaro, president of Chattanooga State, before the start of the 2010 Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce annual meeting held at the Chattanooga Convention Center August 18, 2010.

The former Chattanooga mayor said he has drafted a bill he plans to offer after the November elections to help control government spending. The nine-page bill would cap spending to a portion of the nation’s gross domestic product and force a change, he said.

Corker said he doesn’t expect the measure to pass in January, but he hopes it will help people focus on the issue.

“This is a draconian problem that affects everyone in the room,” he said.

Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester said in a telephone interview that it was Republican President George W. Bush who “got us where we are right now.”

The last federal budget surplus was under former President Bill Clinton, Forrester said, and President Barack Obama has appointed a deficit commission to eye ways to attack the problem.

Corker, giving the nearly 1,300 people at the Chamber meeting what he called “a little bit of shock and awe,” said the nation will surpass Greece in terms of public debt to GDP within 20 years if the course of spending doesn’t change.

By 2030, public debt in the United States will be at 146 percent of GDP, he said. Greece, when it was bailed out by the European Union earlier this year, was at 120 percent of GDP.

The Tennessee senator said that, in 1970, 62 percent of the federal budget was discretionary spending such as on education and highways. Now that level has fallen to 38 percent while spending on mandatory items such as Medicare and entitlements has risen to 56 percent of the budget.

By 2035, interest on the nation’s debt will be 25 percent of the budget if current spending stays on course, he said.

More foreigners also are holding U.S. debt than in the past, Corker said. In 1960, foreign debtholders accounted for 5 percent of the total. Today, that number has risen to 46 percent, with China holding 10 percent, he said.

Corker said both Democrats and Republicans are to blame.

“Both parties enabled us to get into the position we’re in,” he said.

Meanwhile, Corker told the Chamber group that Chattanooga’s business growth is “the talk of the state.”

“We’ve got hope,” he said.

As mayor, Corker helped lay the groundwork to attract Volkswagen to Enterprise South industrial park. But, Corker said, the jobless rate is still high and some rural Tennessee counties don’t have needed infrastructure or a big employer may be leaving, and they face a difficult economic picture.


* Tom Edd Wilson, Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce chief executive:

The city has been transformed into “an economic development leader,” with Business Facilities magazine recently naming Chattanooga as the No. 1 metro area for economic growth potential. The Chamber is developing a new job growth initiative dubbed “Chattanooga Can Do — Building Tomorrow Today.”

* Tom White, outgoing Chamber chairman:

The business group helped companies announce 1,198 jobs in the last 12 months. That’s $47 million in new labor income, according to the Chamber.

* Ron Harr, incoming Chamber chairman:

The city has come a long way since 2002. “Back then we weren’t sure site selectors even knew how to spell Chattanooga. But we are on the map. Now we are successfully competing for some of the most sought-after economic development projects in the world.”

about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
acerigger said...

Just how long has Bob been in Washington? Did he ever see anyone in the past,oh say,ten years,spend like a "drunken sailor",put 2 wars on the credit card,and at the same time cut taxes on the richest people in America? Wake up people!

August 19, 2010 at 1:15 a.m.
slr3 said...

I'm glad Bob Coker represents me in Washington. I just wish we could clone him and have him again as Mayor of Chattanooga. We traded way down for Littlefield. Sign the petition to recall him. It's in the best interest of the taxpayers.

August 19, 2010 at 4:22 a.m.
eeeeeek said...

From the Knoxville News Sentinel: CHATTANOOGA - As a private investor, Bob Corker lost more than $1 million in a speculative Internet venture he shared with Delta Capital Management, a Memphis investment firm. Undeterred, Corker courted Delta when he became Chattanooga’s mayor, opening a door that allowed the firm to get $1 million in Chattanooga city employee pension funds in 2004 to invest in startup companies. The pension investment, while still in its early stages, is down 12 percent, according to a June 30 performance report. Corker, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, said he played no role in awarding pension funds to Delta and wasn’t even present for the January 2004 pension board vote approving the investment.

August 19, 2010 at 5:47 a.m.
anniebelle said...

I'll have to say, Bobby should be the poster boy for the CONS/REGRESSIVE movement. He's the epitome of the life style these so-called consersatives live. Give away our country to the top 1% while the rest of here waiting for our trickle down are called whiners and losers. How many of your tax dollars went to 'lure' VW to this town?

August 19, 2010 at 6:04 a.m.
Saban101 said...

It should surprise no one that a president and congress that possess the the morals to promote abortion and homosexuality would also be fiscally immoral, wastefully spending money that doesn't belong to them, successfully ensuring their re-election by giving out entitlements to lazy, self-centered, unpatriotic vermin that we see on this board and all around us. Lets take the country back conservative Christians! Can't wait until November.

August 19, 2010 at 11:39 a.m.
eeeeeek said...

There be Saban, who named itself after a vibrator demonstrated on Howard Stern's show, talking about morals and x-stained values.

August 19, 2010 at 12:06 p.m.
MountainJoe said...

Isn't this the same Bob Corker who, along with fellow RINO Lamar Alexander, voted for the $700 billion Wall Street bailout bill? And all of a sudden NOW he thinks mounting federal debt is a bad thing?

August 19, 2010 at 12:08 p.m.
MountainJoe said...

Oh, and don't forget that Wamp was against it before he was for it. ;)

August 19, 2010 at 12:08 p.m.
FM_33 said...

Bob Corker has a nickname and would you all like to know what it is.....

  • Three Wheel Motion *
August 19, 2010 at 1:32 p.m.
FM_33 said...

Bob Corker is the pimp in the pimped stripe suit.

August 19, 2010 at 1:34 p.m.
FM_33 said...

Bob perv-and-swerv with your bad self !

August 19, 2010 at 1:35 p.m.
MountainJoe said...

I thought his nickname was "Bailout Bob."

August 19, 2010 at 1:49 p.m.
FM_33 said...

Bob Corker is a made man.

August 25, 2010 at 1:39 p.m.
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