Bob Corker discussed his opposition to the omnibus spending bill on Fox News as well as his bipartisan amendment to the tax cut package that would establish a binding federal spending cap tied to the country’s economic output.
A transcript of the interview follows.
Martha MacCallum, co-anchor of America’s Newsroom: Republican Senator Bob Corker is introducing bipartisan legislation to cap federal spending. How about that idea? He’s also on the Senate Banking Committee, which puts him in a good position for all of this. He joins me now. Senator Corker, welcome back to America’s Newsroom. Always great to have you, sir. Welcome.
Corker: Good morning, Martha. Always good to be with you.
MacCallum: Alright, so talk to me about this. We saw John McCain on the floor with this huge stack of this bill that nobody’s going to get a chance to read through before they are supposed to vote on it. What is your take?
Corker: It’s pretty incredible. I want to hold this up. [Corker holds up pages of earmarks.] These are just the earmarks that are in the bill. It’s 1,924 pages, 6,000 earmarks. It’s an incredible thing that with what’s happened especially with this election, $13 trillion in debt that you mentioned, that we’d even be considering something like this. There is a big push by myself and others to end up with a short-term, what’s called a continuing resolution where we move and just allow government to be funded until this next February or March, where we can really look at reducing spending. I think people understand that spending is out of control in Washington. They way understand that, and what we need to do is cap spending as a percentage of our country’s gross domestic product. I’m thankful that Claire McCaskill, who you just referred to, has joined me in that effort. I have a number of Republicans, and I’m hoping that we can pass legislation to cap spending at the federal level.
MacCallum: I want to talk more about that. But, first, what about these hundreds of pages of earmarks? Is this omnibus bill going to pass? Is this budget going to pass? And if so, when?
Corker: We are doing everything we can to keep that from happening, and, obviously, the vote will take place, probably, it may be the last piece of action that we take here this year in the Senate. I hope that it does not pass. If it passes, what it does, it really takes away the opportunity for us, this entire next year, to decline in spending. We have a debt ceiling vote that’s going to be coming up in April, May or early June, depending on when we hit the debt ceiling, and it is my hope we’ll be able to really put in place these constructs to drive down spending before that. If we pass this bill that you are referring to, what it does is really kick the can down the road an entire year and flies in the face of everything people spoke about during the last election.
MacCallum: Yeah, you know even the concept of this passing with the amount of earmarks you showed us and people say oh earmarks are a small percentage of everything but that doesn’t even matter. The principle of it, people are completely fed up with this, and I don’t frankly think they’re going to stand for it anymore, Senator. And you know, I’m wondering how strong the force will be against this, and if everybody’s willing to stay there and hammer this thing out and show the American people that they do indeed, for real this time, get it and they’re not going to allow these earmarks to go through.
Corker: Well, look, I can assure you that I plan on laying on the railroad tracks. I’m glad people like you and others are bringing it to Americans’ attention and the fact is that this is exactly the wrong thing to do. So thank you. I can’t believe -- look, we’re supposed to pass these appropriations bills one at a time, so we can go through each one, take out wasteful programs and do those kind of things. When you get a 1,924 page bill like this, that as you mentioned, you cannot even read in time to pass it, okay? That is wrong. That is flying in the face of the responsibility we have here in the U.S. Senate. I hope it doesn’t pass. I hope saner thoughts will prevail. I’m going to do everything I can to make that happen.
MacCallum: Yeah, I think a lot of people out there certainly hope that you will, and that you are right about that. One more question about the debt ceiling issue. This debt ceiling keeps going higher and higher and higher. It’s like if you ask regular folks out there, would you keep pushing your credit card limit higher and higher and higher and higher, even though you are going deeper and deeper into debt? Most would say of course not. That would be ridiculous. Why would we even consider moving the debt ceiling higher at all? In the new year?
Corker: Well, you know, the way the debt ceiling works, it is like running up your credit card bill, as you said, but then not agreeing to pay the bill.
Corker: The fact is we have already spent this money. And a lot of people would say it is irresponsible not to pass the debt ceiling because that’s like saying you’re not gonna pay the bill. I have come to the conclusion that it is irresponsible not to act responsible prior to voting for the debt ceiling. In other words, my point is, we need to take actions to really reduce spending. I think the bond markets, the world markets are going to run from our indebtedness if we don’t act responsibly soon. When that begins to happen, Martha, as you know, it happens really quickly. All of the sudden a crisis ensues. So hopefully, the American people, I think know this, but hopefully Congress will act responsibly this spring and put a cap on spending.
MacCallum: Senator, I think there are a lot of folks who hope you are right about that, and we thank you for being with us today. Thank you, Senator Bob Corker from Tennessee.