Corker predicts failure to agree on deficit until 2013 debt-ceiling vote

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) predicted that Congress will kick the can further down the road on dealing with major deficit reduction.

Corker said he hopes President Obama and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) can reach a plan that would reduce the deficit by $4 trillion, but that it seems unlikely.

“It appears very possible that we may move through this year with only rescuing the 98 percent caught up in this debate,” Corker said on the floor Tuesday evening, referring to extending the Bush-era tax rates for 98 percent of taxpayers, or those who make less than $250,000 a year. “Another moment is coming that will force us to deal with this, and that is the debt ceiling.”

Corker said that, “unfortunately,” Congress needs “a point of leverage,” such as raising the debt ceiling, in order to focus on spending reduction discussions.

“I would hope we’d come up with a $4 trillion package,” Corker said. “But where I see us going is by the time year end comes is all we’ve done is rescue the 98 percent of tax payers and then moving to the debt ceiling as a forcing issue to make us deal with the deficit.”

The U.S. Treasury has said the debt ceiling won’t need to be raised again until early 2013. Corker said a lack of political courage will likely force lawmakers to enter next year without having addressed the deficit.

“What we lack is the political courage to sit down and deal with this issue,” Corker said. “We will use that debt ceiling or the [continuing resolution] to finally make us deal with this fiscal issue. ... That’s where I believe we’re headed.”

Corker said he’d prefer lawmakers start the New Year with the deficit issue in “the rearview mirror.”

Corker is one of a handful of Republicans who’s said in recent weeks that he supports passage of a Democratic bill extending the Bush-era tax rates for those making less than $250,000. Other Republicans have said raising tax rates on any income level would harm the economy.

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