Sen. Corker vs. higher debt

Sen. Corker vs. higher debt

April 20th, 2011 in Opinion Free Press

Tennessee's fiscally responsible and practical Sen. Bob Corker points out that the federal government is spending "$4.1 billion a day that we don't have."

If that doesn't concern the president and most members of Congress, it certainly should concern all reasonable American taxpayers. It obviously troubles Corker.

Barring major spending reform, "I will not vote for raising the debt ceiling," he said emphatically yesterday, as he met members of the news staff of the Times Free Press.

Corker insists, "We've got to reduce spending." He asked, "If we don't have the courage to deal with it now, when will we have the courage down the road?"

Fortunately, Tennessee's Sen. Lamar Alexander, Rep. Jimmy Duncan and Rep. Jim Cooper, plus a number of other Democrat and Republican members of Congress around the country, have joined Corker in supporting a bill, the CAP Act, that would curtail federal spending.

The abbreviation stands for "Commitment to American Prosperity." Introduced by Corker, the legislation seeks over 10 years to cap both discretionary and mandatory spending to a declining percentage of America's gross domestic product. GDP is all our nation produces in a year.

The goal is to bring federal spending down from its current, unsustainable 24.7 percent of GDP to the 40-year historical level, 20.6 percent.

"The fiscal straitjacket would result in $7.6 trillion less spending over a 10-year period and fundamentally change the way Washington does business," Corker notes on his website.

The CAP Act would put everything from entitlements to defense spending on the table.

"Washington continues to borrow and spend, and despite the pleas of the American people, there is no end in sight," he said. "As we approach our debt limit of $14.29 trillion and more and more Americans - Republicans, Democrats and Independents - call on Washington to get spending under control and reduce our deficit, I see no better time to change course."

But what would the CAP Act do if Congress still refused to cap spending? It would force the Office of Management and Budget "to make evenly distributed simultaneous cuts throughout the federal budget to bring spending down to the pre-determined level." That "real pain," as Corker calls it, would be an incentive for lawmakers to take spending cuts seriously.

Can you think of a more reasonable way to do the necessary business of government and avoid higher taxes and debt?

Corker is open not only to his own approach, but to other serious efforts to slash federal spending. But he notes a financial catastrophe we can expect if no sensible plan is approved: "On the present trajectory, U.S. debt will reach 185 percent of GDP" by 2035.

Imagine that: Our national debt will be nearly double the total, mighty annual output of the United States!

President Barack Obama and some members of Congress don't want to face the financial facts before the next election.

But Corker and at least some of his fellow lawmakers from around the nation are seeking a solution. Shouldn't American taxpayers insist that Corker and others supporting vital efforts to cut spending be joined by a majority in Congress - now?