Sen. Corker: "Nobody cares" about federal fiscal responsibility
Speaking at a meeting of the Chattanooga Bar Association on Friday, Tennessee U.S. Senator Bob Corker told an audience that very few American people care about issues of fiscal responsibility.
Corker took several questions from the crowd at the event. One audience member asked, "In the past, you have spoken a lot about fiscal responsibility of the federal government. Are you just over it...?"
With audible weariness in his voice, Corker responded, "It's not going to happen. Yeah, I'm over it. It's the most disappointing... it's just not going to happen. The American people today are not interested in it. You know, I think if you did a poll today there'd be 6 percent of people in our country that even care about fiscal issues.
"It's just a fact," Sen. Corker continued. "Nobody cares."
Corker also said he's lost hope for President Trump on fiscal issues. "You’ve got a president that’s certainly not going to deal with it. [He] made it clear in the campaign that he’s not going to deal with the major driver."
This echoes comments he made last month, in which he called President Trump and Congress "one of the most fiscally irresponsible administrations and Congresses we've ever had."
Earlier in the year, Corker raised objections to a Congressional tax overhaul bill, which the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office predicted would explode the nation's budget deficit. But despite his objections, he voted in favor of moving the bill out of the Senate Finance Committee for a full Senate vote - a key vote which kept the tax bill alive. He released a statement that said, "After agreeing in principle with Senate leadership, members of the finance committee, and the administration on a trigger mechanism to ensure greater fiscal responsibility should economic growth estimates not be realized, I voted today to advance this important piece of legislation,”
Corker advocated for a trigger mechanism that would go into place to remove the tax breaks, should the U.S. economy head south.
When the bill came before a final vote, Corker voted for the bill with the Republicans. The measure passed, 51-49.
At Friday's Chattanooga Bar Association meeting, Corker expressed concern about Congress being unable to get things done, which in turn would give the executive branch too much power. Corker said it did not help when President Trump went around "bashing Congress."
That, Corker said, would spell bad news for the nation's long term fiscal health.
"We’re going to have a crisis and we’re going to have to deal with it...or we’ll have a President who will campaign on it," adding "We’re in a world of populism right now and in a world of populism, you never deal with the tough issues."
Corker had words of praise for Mike Pompeo, the new Secretary of State, who recently visited North Korea. He said Pompeo told him that during his meeting with Kim Jong Un, they were looking at the sunset one evening and the North Korean leader said “There should be American hotels lining the area." Corker says Pompeo will make a "fantastic" Secretary of State.
Senator Corker announced last year that he would not run for re-election for his Senate seat, which he has held for two terms.