Almost two months after introducing a comprehensive legislative package geared at fiscal reform, Sen. Bob Corker said he plans to reintroduce components within the bill as separate items in the year ahead.
Corker, who had hoped his "soup-to-nuts" plan would be used by parties negotiating a prospective deal to avoid the fiscal cliff, issued a statement Tuesday, suggesting he would rather begin working toward items where there was already significant agreement on both sides, as opposed to allowing multiple items to build on each other and create another crisis scenario.
Describing two reforms as "starting points" for the greater task of deficit reduction, the senator and former Chattanooga mayor suggested instituting a "chained" consumer price index, along with working to require wealthy seniors to begin contributing more toward their own Medicare benefit plans.
"When Congress reconvenes in two weeks, we will be facing twin deficits: dealing with the issue of our time, our country's crushing debt, and addressing the deficit of trust in Washington," Corker said. "I think that we have all seen that recent attempts at grand bargains have created crisis after crisis, and in the end, that approach is under-delivered."
Proponents of the "chained" consumer price index say the measurement would more accurately chart inflation, enabling the government to trim benefits in order to reflect the actual cost of living. Opponents of the idea suggest it wouldn't solve longer-term funding issues with entitlement programs.
In an overview of his plan released in November, Corker estimated that instituting a chained CPI would result in $136 billion in federal spending cuts and generate $87 billion in additional revenues.
The senator said he was confident that his measures would be considered and enacted, even if the process took time.
"I plan on introducing legislation to enact these reforms when we return, and after we pass these, though it will not be fast or easy, we must continue grinding through a similar process, month after month, using regular order, one piece at a time, until we have put our country's finances back on a sustainable path," Corker said. "In this manner, these fiscal deadlines we face don't have to create a crisis but could be addressed incrementally, one step at a time."
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