published Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Bob Corker’s plan great, but ...

On Monday, U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., issued the single most responsible, reasonable and realistic plan to address the “fiscal cliff” seen thus far.

In order to evade the economy-butchering tax hikes and the automatic spending cuts scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1, Corker proposed a blueprint to curb entitlements and reduce other spending by common-sense solutions. These solutions, such as slowly increasing the age of eligibility for Medicare and Social Security to reflect soaring longevity, introducing means testing for entitlements and implementing a benefits system for federal employees more in line with what private sector workers enjoy, will save taxpayers trillions of dollars without impacting the quality of government services.

In his plan, Corker also champions a long-overdue change in how the federal government calculates price increases and inflation for inflation-indexed federal programs. This improvement would help federal spending increases stay more in line with economic growth, rather than expanding astronomically year after year.

Corker’s plan isn’t all trimming budgetary fat and controlling future spending. The senator also takes a page out of failed GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s idea of capping federal tax deductions. In Corker’s case, he wants to limit loopholes and tax write-offs to $50,000 a year.

Corker deserves praise and admiration for taking the lead on this pressing issue and, barring unwarranted and irresponsible opposition by Senate Democrats or President Barack Obama about the very reasonable methods used to contain future entitlement spending, almost single-handedly solving the fiscal cliff crisis.

As great as Corker’s plan to avoid the fiscal cliff is, however, it also represents a broken promise to his constituents. It could also invite the very real chance of a legitimate, well-funded opponent if Corker chooses to run for re-election in 2018.

When he first ran for Senate in 2006, Corker signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Upon signing the pledge, administered by Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), Corker promised Tennessee’s voters that he would “oppose and vote against tax increases” for as long as he served in the United State Senate.

Because Corker’s fiscal cliff deal includes the annual $50,000 cap on federal deductions, the senator is proposing a tax hike for some. In other words, according to the pledge, Corker is breaking his promise to Tennesseans that he would not increase taxes.

ATR, led by taxpayer hero Grover Norquist, has been extremely effective in using the pledge to prevent tax increases at the federal and state levels.

The pledge allows the reduction or elimination of deductions and tax credits, but only if a tax cut is also implemented at the same time to offset the increase in taxes. Offering tax cuts in the proposal would likely make Corker’s deal untenable for Democrats, who stand ready — mouths’ foaming like a pack of rabid dogs — to hike taxes.

Norquist has promised to go after members of congress who break the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, even to pass Corker’s plan. This may be a good time for Norquist and the fine folks at ATR to reassess the pledge since, realistically, not agreeing to a deal before the New Year’s deadline would result in much steeper tax increases for nearly every taxpayer in America. Corker’s $50,000 cap on deductions seems like a steal for taxpayers in comparison.

For the sake of America, let’s hope Corker’s plan passes. For the sake of Corker’s integrity and political future, however, it’s unfortunate that may be best if it never even reaches the Senate floor. Either way, it’s too bad that a pledge that has helped to keep tax rates low for decades may ultimately cost taxpayers trillions in new taxes.

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EaTn said...

The summary of Corker's reform does not address the wasted billions on our military. The era to reform the military to comply with both new technology and non-country building is at hand.

November 27, 2012 at 7:52 a.m.
Livn4life said...

I was doing okay with this article until I saw "reduce spending by common sense solutions." Then my train went off the track. Washington will not do that no matter how it may be made to sound or look. EaTn--yeah let's dumb down and weaken the military. Then people such as my son will not be able to make a living. Yeah then many now in the military will be out looking for all the jobs claimed to be created by the current administration but non-existent when sought for. Yeah let's reform/cut that military and see what happens to national security.

November 27, 2012 at 9:51 a.m.
charivara said...

Corker did not promise Tennesseans that he would not increase taxes. He promised that to another “conservative” know nothing, Grover Norquist. Johnson ideological pathology won’t even let him get that straight, he entirely misses the point that Corker’s first responsibility is to the Constitution, not to a private individual with lots of campaign funds to spend. Apparently Johnson is living in some alternate universe where wishful thinking and fantasy hold sway and the past does not exist. He and his fellow travelers’ continual bleating about “economy butchering taxes.” have gotten very tiresome. If Johnson wants his readers to take him for more than the apologist for the plutocrats that his screeds proclaim him to be he should cite evidence that support his claims. Fact based opinions don’t seem to be part of his job description. Has he been hired just to incite and inflame the ignorant, the bigoted, and the selfish? He’s certainly doing that. Promoting a reasoned counter to the left? Not so much. “Mouths foaming like a pack of rabid dogs.” Must have been looking in a mirror when he wrote that.

November 27, 2012 at 1:09 p.m.
tipper said...

Livn4Life: The U.S. military budget is more than 20 countries combined. These include China, Japan, Russia, England, France, Germany, Canada...shall I go on? The conventional warfare that once was practiced in the world has passed. Technology using less war material is the future. What you still see is what Dwight Eisenhower warned against in the 1950s--the cancer of the military/industrial complex. We also cannot afford in treasure and people to continue to be the world's policemen. And using the fact that someone would lose their job if the military budget was cut is a problem we all face. Nothing is guaranteed except change. Otherwise, we will never progress as a nation or society. The same theory that fixing the public education cannot be improved by throwing money at it goes for the military. National security is not always a money issue, it is the efficiency in which it is used.

November 27, 2012 at 1:49 p.m.

If you're having to use weasel language to wriggle out of a promise, you'd be better off with an honest admission.

November 27, 2012 at 2:25 p.m.
carlB said...

Why aren't the politicians saying anything about the creation of new jobs in the USA? If the Republicans would try to create the private production/manufacturing jobs and middle class jobs that President Obama has been trying to get them to vote for? The creation of these jobs would help "fix" many if the crisis problems.

November 27, 2012 at 9:13 p.m.
timbo said...

The problem here is no matter what Corker is advocating, The only thing will get out of this is the tax increases. How many times in the Bush administration did we hear the same rhetoric as spending went up dramatically. All the while saying over and over how conservative the Bush administration was. There are liars, damn liars, and politicians. I really can't tell the difference.

November 28, 2012 at 7:19 a.m.
conservative said...

It never ceases to amaze me how people will believe and vote for people who are rich, thinking that these same rich will impose large tax increases on themselves.

The rich lawmakers such as Pelosi and Reid may vote small tax increases on themselves but it would only make a small dent in our continuing debt simply because our debt is largely due to SPENDING!

November 28, 2012 at 9:10 a.m.
carlB said...

How true is it that spending is our problem including the spending of US consumers for imported goods by the "corporate monopolies" which have created trillions of accumulated trade deficits for many years for the global coprporations? Then we entered into two unfunded wars after the Bush tax cuts and the National Debt more than doubled during the eight years of the Chewney/Bush W.s eight years, ending up with the 2007 deep recession with it's effects putting this Republic on the verge of another great depression. This condition was handed off for President Obama's administration to deal with.
SO, how many of you people who are complaining, really wanted to address the crisis conditions to prevent another great depression or was their only interest in blaming President Obama for spending the money and for following the Republican Leaders objectives in causiong the failure of Obama?

November 28, 2012 at 10:42 a.m.
carlB said...

Since the many of voters have accepted being programed to "hate" the words entitlements, Pelosi, and Reid as being the ugly causes of all our financial problems. They need to take another look at the reasons and whom it is that wants them to accept their program of "Hate."

November 28, 2012 at 10:54 a.m.
fairmon said...

carlB said...

If the Republicans would try to create the private production/manufacturing jobs and middle class jobs that President Obama has been trying to get them to vote for?

What legtislation has Obana proposed that would create those jobs?

November 29, 2012 at 7:04 a.m.
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