ROGERSVILLE – U.S. Sen. Bob Corker was in Hawkins County Friday to discuss his thoughts with constituents over the upcoming election, the federal budget, Medicare and free enterprise.
Corker was the guest speaker at the Rogersville/Hawkins County Chamber of Commerce Breakfast held in the Holston Valley Electric Company’s auditorium.
Speaking on the field of energy, Corker said the announcement of TVA’s leader Tom Kilgore stepping down worried him for the future competency of the organization’s board, which is appointed by Washington politicians. He said now would be a good time to look into the organization to help it be the model for future energy.
While Corker said it is not his style to be partisan, he did say the announcement of Paul Ryan as a vice presidential nominee will lead to the debate to “center of things that actually matter in the country.”
Corker said he speaks to corporations who say their top concern is whether or not Washington has the discipline to get its act together and deal with the budget. Corker said many corporations are surviving on their own capital while waiting on the deficit to be solved.
Corker said congress spends $3.5 trillion of taxpayer money each year. Of that, $2.5 trillion is spent in entitlement spending which is mandatory, such as Medicare and the Military. Congress appropriates about $1 trillion each year in discretionary funds.
“So of the $3.5 trillion, congress only votes on about $1 trillion. The rest is on autopilot, so when looking at how to deal with the nation’s spending you have to look at the entitlement spending to do anything. The caps are there, but in my opinion they aren’t low enough,” Corker said.
The biggest issue the nation faces is Medicare, according to Corker.
“If our nation could come together to solve Medicare the rest of the budget is quite simple,” Corker said.
Corker said the average American family with two incomes earns $87,000 a year. Of that, the family will pay into Medicare over their lifetime $119,000 which includes the part that the employer pays on their behalf.
“So in today’s dollars the family pays $119,000 in 2012 dollars, they take out $357,000.” Corker said.
Corker said his office has written in legislative language a proposal to deal with Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid and has been meeting with Republican Senators privately. He is prepared to present the consensus bill as soon as the election is over.
“For what it’s worth, I’m more optimistic regardless of the presidential campaign that we’re going to put this fiscal issue in the rearview mirror in the next six months to a year and a half and again we’ll be able to focus on the greatness of this nation,” Corker said.
Corker said that greatness includes that in the next decade the entire North American continent will be energy secure because of breakthroughs in the private sector.
With energy security, foreign relations with the Middle East will completely change, he said.
He said the foundation of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness on which the country was founded on needs to be restored and noted a study that said people are happiest with earned success.
“Since 2008, this country has gone through incredible self doubt, free enterprise has been tackled by both parties, it has allowed more people to earn success than anything else and what makes our country a beacon to the world that is replicated all across the world.”