OAK RIDGE - Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., says no other Republican in the U.S. Senate worked harder than he did on the financial reform bill, but he can't support the proposed legislation as currently crafted.
"I'm disappointed in the direction that bill is taking in the last couple of months," the freshman senator told attendees at the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce's annual industry appreciation breakfast Friday.
"I caught unmerciful grief," he said, by negotiating with Democratic U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd on the proposed new financial regulations. "He (Dodd) negotiated with me, until he didn't," Corker said of the unraveling of their talks in March.
The proposed financial reform "doesn't change loan underwriting standards, which was the core of the problem," Corker said.
"We had a ton of people in this country who were loaned money who should not have been loaned money," Corker said.
Other aspects of the financial reform package are a "huge overreach" that he predicted "Americans will come to resent over time," he told the audience of 150 business leaders and officials.
Still, Corker said, "at the end of the day, a (financial reform) bill's going to pass."
In a wide-ranging talk, Corker also bemoaned the country's burgeoning debt woes and predicted GOP gains in the November elections.
"After this next election, we're probably going to have more of a balance," he said. "We'll likely have more centrist policies, middle-of-the-road policies."
Corker reserved special attention for his concerns about the country's mounting national debt.
"We absolutely cannot continue on the path we're on," he said. "It is the issue that will degrade our standard of living, and I just see no real desire to change that in Washington.
"I have never been in a place in my life that has such a lack of fiscal restraint. It's an embarrassment to me to see what we do."
Corker said there is $37 trillion in unfunded Medicare liabilities on top of the current national debt of $13 trillion.
"Being in the situation we're in, being debtors to other countries, that's weakening our country," he said.