U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said Monday he has drafted a "soup to nuts" plan to reform taxes and entitlements to cut spending and raise more money to balance the budget.
But Corker said he doesn't plan to introduce the measure until at least this fall and doesn't expect Congress to take up any more major budget deals until after the November presidential election.
"We'll have it ready for prime time later this year," Corker told reporters and editors of the Chattanooga Times Free Press on Monday. "Having one piece of legislation that would put this fiscal crisis in our rear-view mirror would allow us to focus on making our country great again."
Corker said he has drafted the budget deficit reduction plan and is now getting it reviewed for its fiscal impact by congressional bean counters. The measure could be introduced as soon as September. But Corker said he hopes it will be a blueprint for any post-election compromise between Republicans who want to cut spending and Democrats who want to raise taxes.
"America is one budget deal away from regaining its pre-eminence in the world, and I'm optimistic we're going to do that, and the first best chance to do that is after the election," he said.
Corker criticized his congressional colleagues for voting last week for a new $105 billion, two-year transportation bill he said "broke the trust of the American people" by violating the budget compromise reached last year between the White House and Congress. Last Friday, 373 members of the House of Representatives and 74 senators voted in favor of the measure to keep federal transportation funds flowing and to avoid an increase in student loan rates.
Tennessee Transportation Commissioner John Schroer said Monday he is glad Congress reached an agreement to ensure that funds didn't end last week but said the measure still falls short of what is needed.
"While I am glad Congress reached an agreement to prevent some of our major transportation projects from shutting down, we really can't do any long-term projects with anything less than a six-year bill," he said.
Corker said the highway and student loan bill spends $2.5 billion more than was agreed to under the budget resolution of the previous year.
An even bigger priority than infrastructure spending, Corker said, is to get control of America's rising federal debt, which could exceed the U.S. gross national product within the next decade if Congress doesn't act.
Contact Dave Flessner at email@example.com or at 757-6340.