Republican Sen. Corker Weighs In On Budget Debate
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
President Obama and congressional leaders are no closer to agreeing on a budget for the fiscal year that is now more than half over.
INSKEEP: The only question is whether politics or ideology are going to get in the way of preventing a government shutdown.
INSKEEP: But whatever the final deal, two senators have been telling us this debate over billions is a minor issue in a time of trillion-dollar deficits.
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
INSKEEP: Good morning. Good to be with you.
MONTAGNE: What is it going to take, Senator, in your opinion, to reach a deal to avoid a government shutdown, to get a budget for this year in place?
INSKEEP: Well, you know, those negotiations are being totally handled, right now, between leader Boehner and the White House, and Senator Reid. Most of us - most of the Senate and House actually aren't even involved in these negotiations. This is like two drops in the bucket. This is small ball. This is something obviously that has to be dealt with and everybody understands that. But the big picture, where the American people, in my opinion, are focused and should be focused is what we do over the next 10 years.
MONTAGNE: So what you're saying if it's small ball, you're saying there will be a compromise.
INSKEEP: Well, that's what - if you polled most of the senators here in the Senate, it's the bigger picture that really most all of us are working on today.
MONTAGNE: Paul Ryan of Wisconsin has put out what may be the most long-term proposal that is out there. Big changes to Medicare and Medicaid, within a proposal that would cut something like six-plus trillion dollars from the budget over the next decade.
MONTAGNE: Would you support that?
INSKEEP: Obviously, to get there, you have to redesign these entitlement programs. And so, what I would say is, look, this is one route of getting there. My guess is the Gang of Six may come up with something else.
MONTAGNE: Let's talk about what you're calling the Gang of Six. That's six of your fellow senators, Republicans and Democrats. They've signed on to at least the idea that there must be both spending cuts and also revenue increases. Both sides of the aisle would object to one of those two things, traditionally. What about you? Would you sign on to some combination of revenue increases and spending cuts?
INSKEEP: Well, I don't know. I mean I need to see - you know, you're asking, you know, questions about what-ifs. And I've found around here it's not good to answer what-ifs. It's best to see what it is. And I think, as a person who's been here four years and has been just shocked at the lack of fiscal discipline that we have here in Washington, I think over the next 100 to 120 days - 90 to 120 days - I think we have an opportunity to really right a lot of wrongs that have occurred on both sides of the aisle.
MONTAGNE: Speaking to us from his office on Capitol Hill, that's Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee.
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