The Hill: Corker suggests freezing spending, expects extension of tax cuts

Oct 23, 2010

Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker suggested Friday immediately freezing spending at 2008 levels while reducing the share of the federal budget in relation to gross domestic product.

Corker also said he's expecting Congress to extend all of the Bush-era tax cuts for two years when lawmakers return to Washington after the mid-term elections.

Federal spending should run between 18 percent and 21 percent of GDP, more in line with revenues and well below the current level of 25 percent, Corker said today during an interview with CNBC.

"I think the first thing we need to do as a country is agree what percentage of our country's gross domestic product ought to be spent by the federal government," he said. "Until you do that, you're never going to go anyplace."

Focusing on GDP will provide the right perspective because "everybody in the country wants the GDP to grow," he said.

"So you look at taxes that actually spur economic growth. We all know that that's the easiest way to get spending under control as a percentage of GDP."

On the tax front, Corker reiterated the need to stick with existing tax policy saying "I think we're going to end up doing that, if I read the tea leaves, for at least two more years while we debate these other issues."

Congress is expected to debate the tax cuts, which expire at the end of the year, when they return to Washington after the elections. The Obama administration has continued to push for an extension of the middle-class tax cuts while arguing that those cuts in place for higher-income workers need to expire to reduce the deficit.

"What we never do in this country is focus on page one, in other words, we quickly devolve to whether the Bush tax policy ought to continue, what program ought to be cut, that type of thing," he said. "We never look at what our target is. And so we end up in these little debates that take us nowhere."

Congress also needs to examine corporate tax rates which "are out of line with the rest of the developed world," Corker said.

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