Sen. Bob Corker optimistic about avoiding 'fiscal cliff'

Sen. Bob Corker optimistic about avoiding 'fiscal cliff'

Sen. Bob Corker spoke with 6 News Anchor Gene Patterson via satellite from Washington, D.C. Sen. Bob Corker spoke with 6 News Anchor Gene Patterson via satellite from Washington, D.C.

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Meetings continued Thursday as lawmakers in Washington, D.C. work to strike a bargain to cut the national deficit and avoid the so-called fiscal cliff.

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker has been promoting a plan that would cap deductions for high income Americans and take a hard look at entitlement programs.

The following is a transcript of an interview 6 News Anchor Gene Patterson did with Sen. Corker by satellite about his plan. 

Gene Patterson: How's [the plan] been received so far?

Sen. Corker: I think it's been received well, Gene. This Congress created the fiscal cliff you were just alluding to. This Congress has had two dry runs and failed, and I think it's our responsibility over the next 30 days to solve this. And so what we've done over the last 11 months is craft a bill that we think does that. The purpose of it, I know it can be improved and we certainly have shared it with the White House, shared it with [House] Speaker [John] Boehner, shared it with Senate Minority Leader [Mitch] McConnell and [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid. We've given our text to all of them and basically what we're saying is, guys, this can be improved, but let's deal with this right now. The menu of options is only going to narrow as we move ahead and this crisis becomes larger in the next six months, a year. And the steps we'll have to take will be even more draconian. So what we're encouraging is people have the political courage to go ahead and deal with this issue now. And the bill we've laid out is a blueprint to make that happen.

Gene Patterson: My understanding is that a lot of folks I've listened to about this issue say this is a very good starting point, what you are proposing. But it really doesn't go far enough in that it doesn't increase revenue enough. Perhaps you should take a look at capital gains taxes and increasing those. What would you say to those folks?

Sen. Corker: Well the bill has a trillion dollars in revenues in it. And so I think, Gene, you're referring to some initial comments that were made. The real issue here is not going to be that. I think Republicans have shown a flexibility to work towards revenues that makes sense as long as they're done in a pro-growth way. The real crux is going to come to entitlement reform because without that I think most of you know that Medicare has a $27 trillion unfunded liability. So the real issue I think is not going to be what you just addressed. I think again Speaker Boehner in his first speech talked about that. He's willing to put revenues on the table, but we want to know that we've solved this problem. And so while there's talk right now about revenues and I think that talk will continue over the next week, I'm talking about publicly very soon we're going to turn our attention I think to dealing with the entitlements which have to be done for this nation to get its fiscal footing in order.

Sen. Corker says people on Social Security or Medicare shouldn't be concerned about negotiations affecting those programs.

He says any changes that would be made would be gradual. He adds that the consequences of not acting would be worse.

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