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VOL. 132 | NO. 173 | Thursday, August 31, 2017

Corker Distinguishes Between Tax Reform and Tax Cut

By Bill Dries

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U.S. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee says he wants to see tax reform that might mean a reduction in some taxes but very specific cuts aimed at a larger goal of promoting economic growth that makes up the revenue lost.

Corker, speaking Wednesday, Aug. 30, at the Germantown Rotary Club, made a distinction between calls for tax reform and calls for tax cuts.

“I’m for tax reform,” he told a group of 100 at Southwind. “The question is can you do tax reform but also maybe a tax cut that if you look at it is dynamically scored – meaning its effect on the economy.”

Corker also said when tax reform or tax cut proposals reach the Senate Budget Committee, the ability of a tax cut to generate revenue from economic growth in later years will be essential to the success of the program.

“What baseline are you going to use for revenues?” was how Corker framed the issue when it reaches the committee that he is a member of.

“We’re going to play a significant role in that,” he added. “I’m not trying to act big but without my vote it can’t happen. That’s just the way the committee is set up.”

Like Republican U.S. Rep. David Kustoff of Germantown, Corker said the prospect for tax changes of any kind depend on legislation passing by the end of the year.

Corker noted that “the commander-in-chief” -- President Donald Trump – has said he favors both tax reform and a tax cut.

“If you think the economy is going to take off because of tax reform, which is going to generate more revenue -- then you can look at dynamic scoring to look at a portion of that so that you might begin the first year or two with reduction in actual revenue then,” Corker said after his speech and the question and answer session with Rotarians. “But in the out years … you expect to have revenues that are far beyond what you would have had. You’ve just got to make sure that you are not being too generous with that. You’ve got to look at that in a realistic way.”

He also said the approaching decision on raising the federal debt ceiling, which must be resolved by Sept. 29, will see another attempt to review federal spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

“I used to use the word entitlement programs but it made people mad. People say, ‘I paid into my Medicare all of my life and you are calling it an entitlement.’ That’s the term that we use, I’m sorry. I’m now going to call it mandatory spending,” Corker said. “But look, nobody in America has paid their full share of Medicare – no one. People pay into it all of their lives. Employers pay on their behalf but it covers about 35 to 40 percent of the cost. … Nobody pays for their Medicare.”

Corker, who recently turned 65 and got his Medicare card, said he doesn’t want to cut the program in a way that would hurt citizens but does think federal spending on those programs should be reviewed toward dealing with $20 trillion in federal debt.

He wasn’t optimistic that will happen.

“To even begin discussing it brings an avalanche of anger,” Corker said.

Corker also again said he has made no decision on whether he will seek re-election to the Senate in 2018. And he described a critical Tweet by Trump directed at him that mentioned the 2018 elections as nothing that has damaged with relationship with Trump.

“Nothing has changed. I don’t worry too much about it. I also don’t think people realize that I probably have the most unique relationship with the President of anybody in the United States Senate,” he said. “I talk frankly about things. He knows that. He talks frankly about things. I don’t think anything about it.”

During the questions and answer session, Corker paused several times while answering a question about whether Trump is changing the Republican Party and whether that could affect Republicans in the 2018 midterm elections.

“It’s just the way it is. Yes, there are changes that are underway,” Corker said.

“It’s taken on a little bit, maybe a lot in some cases, significant meaning,” he said before pausing again. “I’m not going to answer your question. Y’all know the answer. When President Obama was president the Democratic Party took on many of the characteristics of him. …We’ll see where that goes.”

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