Magee: Sen. Corker's reform role should come as no surprise

Magee: Sen. Corker's reform role should come as no surprise

February 14th, 2010 by David Magee in Opinion Columns

Since U.S. Sen. Bob Corker several years ago took along to Washington, D.C., a promise of working across party lines, it comes as no surprise that he's now stepping up to the plate on important legislation to build bipartisan consensus.

By stepping up on the banking reform package -- a package stalemated in Congress by heightened political polarization -- Sen. Corker, R-Tenn., is backing up his words with action, working to find the middle ground with legislation that Republicans and Democrats might support.

Considering the circumstances, his timing could not be better.

Reforms are needed in Washington to make sure a replay of last year's federal government bailouts does not recur, and they are needed fast so banks can get back to the business of lending, ultimately fueling jobs growth through small-business expansion. But the government has to be careful not to overreact in crafting reforms so free-economy ideals are not sucked away into a bureaucratic vacuum.

When important issues such as banking reform have so much at stake, finding a bipartisan solution is never easy. Yet Sen. Corker, a relative newcomer to the Senate Banking Committee, has two important qualities on his side suggesting he's just the man for the job.

One, he has experience and understanding as a businessman and political leader who knows that forward progress comes only when opposing sides whittle away differences to find common ground.

Two, he is willing.

If it sounds simple, it's not. Reforming America's financial system is one of President Barack Obama's top priorities. His inability to get proposed legislation through the banking committee because of Republican opposition has been a sore subject in Washington -- the new president promising change but unable to get it done.

Sen. Corker, however, understands banks need to get this issue behind them before they can focus on the challenge that matters most -- serving American citizens through the financial lending that is vital to job growth. That's why he stepped up in the last week, working with Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., to find that bipartisan sweet spot.

E-mail David Magee at dmagee@timesfreepress.com