A comprehensive fiscal reform package drafted by Sen. Bob Corker for the past 11 months is on the backburner for now.
Corker, who had repeatedly discussed his intent to release a "soup to nuts" plan geared at overhauling the tax code and reforming entitlements, issued a statement Friday saying that, despite his previous intent to " work quietly" on the package until after Election Day, circumstances surrounding negotiations between President Barack Obama and U.S. House Speaker John Boehner regarding the fiscal cliff had convinced him to hold off from introducing his legislation.
The so-called cliff—a combined $668 billion of tax increases and automatic spending cuts—is set to go into effect at year's end if Congress and the president cannot reach an agreement for reducing the national deficit by $1.2 trillion in the next decade.
In his statement, Corker said he was convinced there would be enough common ground for Congress to approve a deal in the 52 days remaining between now and a Jan. 1 deadline.
"Our office has spent the past year painstakingly drafting a fiscal reform package, but now is not the time for any of us, Republicans, Democrats, rump groups or gangs, to be publicly promoting our own plans," Corker said. "The entire Congress will get involved at some point, but right now, the only two people who are likely to get a result by year's end are President Obama and Speaker Boehner. I'm convinced there is enough common ground to solve the problem, and the constructive thing for us to do at this point is to use all our collective energy to support their negotiations for a fiscal reform package."
Corker made no mention of any other factors that played in his decision to withhold introducing the plan, which he had repeatedly hinted at on numerous occasions while speaking across the state and to the media in recent months.
Additional efforts by Nooga.com to reach the senator or members of his office staff were unsuccessful.
On Thursday, Corker mentioned having been working on his plan during an appearance on Bloomberg TV, and on Friday, a Memphis Commercial Appeal report described the senator as having widely circulated the plan among his colleagues, meeting with as many as 25 senators. The report described Corker as having been on the phone "nonstop since the election," discussing his legislation with fellow lawmakers.
Corker's announcement Friday came shortly before Obama delivered his first remarks since the election and was focused on his desire to see lawmakers work toward a mix of cuts and revenue increases in order to reduce the national deficit.
Obama said that although he had "already put forward a detailed plan," he was not dead set on seeing every detail approved.
However, the president was adamant in emphasizing his desire to see taxes increased for workers earning $250,000 a year.
"I want to be clear—I'm not welded to every detail of my own plan," he said. "I'm open to compromise. I'm open to new ideas. I'm committed to solving our fiscal challenges. But I refuse to accept any approach that is not balanced. I am not going to ask students and seniors and middle-class families to pay down the entire deficit while people like me, making over $250,000, aren't asked to pay a dime more in taxes. I'm not going to do that."
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