Without permanent changes to how the United States spends money, many important social programs cannot continue, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker says.
Speaking Tuesday to a group of nearly 300 lawyers and judges, Corker, R-Tenn., outlined part of a proposal he supports and is traveling during the Senate's recess to promote - a "binding cap on federal spending."
The featured speaker at the Chattanooga Bar Association's annual Law Day event, Corker drew a standing ovation from the crowd.
He advocated limits on spending and reform of Medicare and a close look at changes to Social Security and Medicaid programs. He called the lack of action on debt the "greatest threat to our country's sovereignty, security and economic growth."
"I agree with him," said local attorney Jamey Hurst. "He's got a lot of insight on the most important issue that we face."
Many of the past featured speakers for Law Day have had connections to either a law profession or a famous case, such as a recent speech by the daughter of one of the attorneys involved in the landmark desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education, said Lynda Hood, the bar association's executive director. But bar members knew Corker would draw a crowd, she said.
Bar President Ira Long Jr. commented that the crowd of about 270 at the Chattanooga Trade and Convention Center was the largest he had seen at the annual event.
After the hourlong event, Long said, "[Corker] seems insightful, giving us what's behind the headlines. It's show rather than tell."
Corker used a brief slide show to illustrate the growing gap between revenue and expenditures by the federal government. Figures he cited from the Congressional Budget Office showed that current debt is 62 percent of gross domestic product.
Lacking any change in spending, that number could rise to 146 percent by 2030, he said.
"I think it's very damaging to our country," he said.