Corker plans new bill on entitlement reform

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Tuesday he would take a stab at entitlement reform in a new bill to be introduced later this month, saying some effort needs to be made in the absence of leadership from President Obama.

"In our nation's history, the best way big problems have been solved is through presidential leadership," Corker said Tuesday. "[I]n the absence of a president who will lead on this issue, one constructive way to start tackling our financial deficit and the fiscal deadlines we face this quarter ... is to begin legislating on entitlements in areas where there has been strong bipartisan consensus in Congress as well as White House support: chained CPI adjustments and Medicare means testing."

Chained CPI would be a change that could slow the inflation-related growth of entitlement programs. It would allow inflationary effects on prices to be reduced by considering how people substitute one product for another when faced with higher prices.

ADVERTISEMENT
Medicare means-testing would allow Medicare payments to be reduced for people who can afford to pay for their own healthcare.

Corker said both proposals were advocated by the Simpson-Bowles deficit commission, and said Congress needs to begin discussing these and other ideas as soon as it can.

"Elected officials have praised the concept of 'entitlement reform,' but it's way past time to move beyond platitudes, start enacting real reforms now, save these programs for the future and save our country in the process," he said. "Only responsible actions will begin to rebuild the trust deficit that exists in Congress."

With last week's tax fight behind them, Republicans in both the House and Senate are hoping that tax and entitlement reform take center stage as solutions to the problem of reducing the federal deficit. Corker said the delayed sequester, the need for a new six-month spending bill and the need to raise the debt ceiling will give his proposals a chance at being part of the answer.

"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," he said.