Despite the nation’s continued economic malaise and Congress’ ongoing debate over how to address looming fiscal challenges, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker sounded an optimistic tone during a luncheon at the Greater Nashville Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.
Corker sees enough common ground among both parties in the Senate for progress to be made on matters of fiscal reform, though he noted that any action before the November election is unlikely.
But after the lame duck session, Corker predicts Congress will “go a long way toward solving our nation’s fiscal problems.”
“We as a nation are one fiscal reform package away from regaining our place as the country that continues to lead the world,” he said.
The first-term senator has spent much of the past year crafting reform legislation he hopes will become central to the dialogue over federal fiscal policy. He said he planned to introduce the bill after the elections but provided few specifics as to what was in the legislation. Corker said he is the most optimistic he’s been in a while that Congress will “rise to the occasion” in the coming years.
While Corker maintained a positive message throughout his speech, he did briefly lament the lack of action by Congress.
“It’s been like watching paint dry over the last two years,” he said. “We all know what we need to do. We haven’t done it.”
During his speech, Corker criticized the Dodd-Frank financial regulation legislation, saying that portions of the bill had been “punted to regulators.” He especially took issue with its impact on community banking, and said it was “ridiculous” for community banks to have some of the same regulations applied to them as J.P. Morgan.
“There’s a lot of bipartisan consensus” that changes need to be made to the law, he said.
Corker, who narrowly won election to the Senate in 2006, is a heavy favorite to win his race for reelection against his Democratic opponent, Mark Clayton. The Tennessee Democratic Party has disavowed Clayton, a conservative activist and former Republican Senate candidate, and has encouraged Democratic voters to write in a candidate of their choice in November.