BY STANLEY DUNLAP
The rate of spending in America is similar to families going on lavish vacations and eating at expensive restaurants only to leave the tabs to their children, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker says.
Corker, R-Tenn., visited Jackson on Thursday to speak about the American debt crisis, which he says must get under control before the spending and revenue gap bankrupts the nation.
The national debt is at a record $13.5 trillion and rising, Corker said. The current level of federal spending is akin to households making $48,000 a year but spending $70,000, he said.
Corker - who has drafted a nine-page bill focusing on the spending - said legislation should be put in place that forces a cap on spending and creates incentives for growth.
"The faster our country grows in output the easier it is to get in balance again," said Corker, who spoke before a packed crowed during the town hall meeting Thursday at Union University.
The health of a nation is often attributed to the debt level in relation to the gross domestic product, which is similar to the revenues of a company, Corker said.
Currently the nation's debt is 62 percent of the GDP, and projections show that level to rise to 146 percent by 2030, according to the Office of Management and Budget Historical Tables.
The nation has borrowed 40 cents for every dollar spent in the last two years in Washington, D.C., Corker said. Discussion of earmarks has become common, but the issue of spending is much more severe, he said.
The passion shown by the public in this past election needs to continue to pressure officials into addressing the issue, he said.
"I just hope the American people will hang with this issue of spending and debt (long enough) for us to deal with it," he said.
In the late 1990s the nation was able to have revenues exceed spending. However, under current policy there would be a $1.25 trillion gap by 2020, Corker said.
"There's plenty of blame to go around, both sides of the aisle," Corker said. "I can tell you in Washington, the moment you start pointing fingers, you degrade to this place that takes us nowhere."
Corker said he's encouraged that Erskine Bowles, a member of President Barack Obama's debt-reduction panel, has said the spending rate of the GDP should not exceed 21 percent by 2020.
Legislators need to find someplace between an 18 percent and 21 percent spending rate, Corker said.
"I hope to have other people on the other side of the aisle to join me to reach a target that we can get to and will get to," he said.
Corker fielded questions about spending levels in departments such as transportation and defense and the future of Social Security and Medicare.
Corker said for years military officials have received funding for whatever they've asked for. National security remains important, but some streamlining can take place in the Pentagon, he said.
"There's not a single thing on the budget that I would say is off the table," he said.
- Stanley Dunlap, 425-9668