tennessean.com:Liveblogging with Sen. Bob Corker

Apr 16, 2009

The junior senator from Chattanooga met with the Tennessean editorial board this morning.


10:32 a.m. Corker closes by saying he thinks part of stimulus package will help, but most of it is not a stimulus for the economy.


10:31 a.m. Corker said he had hoped Bredesen would be the HHS Secretary. Joked that the Obama administration “had looked into his (background) and seen he had actually paid his income tax.”


10:30 a.m. Corker on recession: “At end of day, it’s 1,000 percent about credit. I didn’t support this stimulus bill. I think the greatest indictment of this stimulus is reading Gov. Bredesen’s budget request.” Says he thinks Bush stimulus check “was equally misguided. … There’s no question that did not work.”


10:29 a.m. On recession: “I’m starting to feel — and I don’t know whether it’s just springtime — I’m starting to feel some signs of hope.”


10:27 a.m. Corker says foreign ownership of Chrysler is acceptable (referring to Fiat), especially given Daimler’s “gutting” of the company.


10:25 a.m. Corker supports Goldman Sachs paying back government money and issuing shares; says it will help economy recover more quickly. Doesn’t want U.S. Treasury to determine who pays back TARP (government) money and who doesn’t over fears that banks that continue to use TARP funds would be tainted in public’s and investors’ eyes.


10:23 a.m. “The banks are not going to loan money — I’m talking about large banks — until they know for sure they can access the public markets again.”


10:22 a.m. Increased government involvement in companies “didn’t begin in this administration. This began under Bush. It has been accelerated under this administration.”



10:19 a.m. Corker says Obama administration could have had same negotiations with GM without booting Wagoner, with GM filing bankruptcy earlier.


10:18 a.m. “My sense is if some of those (troubled financial) institutions need more taxpayer money, the (administration) will demand that those CEOs will step down.”


10:14 a.m. “The (electric) Volt cannot save GM in the short term” but it’s extremely interesting, Corker says. Electric cars charging at night would cost the country almost nothing, given cheaper “base load” electricity at night.


10:11 a.m. “I am absolutely convinced there’s no way Chrysler can make it as a standalone (company).”


10:10 a.m. On proposed Chrysler-Fiat merger: “Do you know how much Fiat is paying for this company? $25 million. They get the first 25-35 percent for free.”


10:06 a.m. Corker expresses concern about Obama administration’s level of involvement in automaker negotiations. Told GM CEO Fritz Henderson, “I hope they are going to let you make decisions about this company that are best of this company.” Says he trusts car czar Steve Gattner, but knows he won’t make the final calls.


10:04 a.m. Corker on Spring Hill: “Saturn is dead … The GM plant in Spring Hill is the kind of plant they want for the future. … It’s a flex plant.”


10:03 a.m. Corker says he was on a conference call with Obama’s chief economic adviser Larry Summers saying that Fiat was going to make a certain type of fuel-efficient car under a potential Chrysler-Fiat merger. “I think it was a pretty strong statement.”


10:02 a.m. GM and UAW would have been much better off if negotiations in December had gone through, Corker said.


9:59 a.m. Probably “70 to 80 percent” chance GM will go into bankruptcy (not Chapter 7, he notes), but “no question in my mind that GM survives.”


9:57 a.m. Chrysler is in different situation than GM, Corker says. They have until the end of the month to decide if they will file bankruptcy; GM has two months, but Corker says he thinks Obama administration might want to take it into a quicker, shorter bankruptcy.


9:56 a.m. Didn’t agree with Obama administration’s move to boot GM CEO Rick Wagoner. “I thought that was wrong. … I think the country will look back and realize that was stepping across a threshold that we have not stepped across.”


9:53 a.m. On failed negotiations with UAW: “It’s really a shame we didn’t reach consensus that night (in December) — my last offer to the UAW … said they would be competitive with Toyota, Nissan and Honda, which was the basket of companies they wanted to be compared to — they didn’t want Kia in the mix … as determined by the Secretary of Labor. They wouldn’t agree to that.”


9:51 a.m. Talks about dealing with automakers: Says he’s able to communicate better with temporary GM CEO Fritz Henderson than he was with now-departed Rick Wagoner.


9:50 a.m. Corker says fellow senators tried to convince him not to go to Banking Committee and take Commerce instead. That committee appointment has thrust Corker into the national spotlight over the last year, thanks to the recession. “It’s in my wheelhouse,” Corker says.


9:48 a.m. Corker flew to Amazon forest a couple of weekends ago; speaks of “arc of fire” that contributes to carbon dioxide release into atmosphere. “If you look at our country, we did the same thing and created farms way back when that wasn’t focused on.”


9:47 a.m. Says gas prices are at point now that Washington isn’t paying much attention to energy concerns, “which I think is a shame.”


9:45 a.m. Speaks of having lunch with Richard Holbrooke and David Petraeus concerning foreign policy and Pakistan in particular.


9:45 a.m. “We’re in sort of unprecedented times right now. The public, in many ways, is grasping at things because they’re concerned about the future. There’s a pretty big wind change in Washington, and I think this is a very important time to serve in the Senate.”


9:42 a.m. Sen. Corker arrives, talks about touring state and West Tennessee in particular. “A lot of these rural counties, their unemployment really skyrockets when the economy goes down.”



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