U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., made the following statement after voting against Senate passage of a $1 trillion year-end spending bill and legislation providing temporary extensions of various expiring policies, including the payroll tax cut. In 2008, Corker voted against a similar stimulus plan signed into law by President Bush that gave Americans one-time tax credits at a cost of more than $150 billion in borrowed money and did little to aid the economy.
"This is a sad day for Americans as they watch politics trump good policy. Unfortunately both parties believe their most important priority should be making decisions that help them keep or attain the majority instead of doing the difficult things we know have to happen to get our country back on firm footing. As long as members of the House and Senate continue to support this kind of behavior, we further enshrine the status quo in Washington," said Corker. "While I strongly support some of the individual measures included in the bills, we have not done the basics of passing a budget in 962 days and total discretionary spending levels as set forth in these massive bills are now actually higher than last year. On the tax extender package, we're using long-term changes to pay for a short-term stimulus which does little for the economy, and if continued over time, will make the Social Security Trust Fund even more insolvent. Instead of reforming Medicare and actually solving SGR long term, we're putting health care providers in a position where they cannot make business decisions beyond two months. And arbitrarily, Congress decided every American who buys a home over the next 10 years will pay higher fees to fund this two-month extension, which ultimately will make it even more expensive and difficult to end Fannie and Freddie.
"The best thing we could do to bring sanity and discipline back to Washington and stimulate the economy would be to stop focusing on the short term and do things that give clarity and predictability for the long term like tackling tax reform which eliminates loopholes, lowers rates and broadens the base, reforming our entitlement programs so they are here for the long term and finally having the discipline to deal with our country's out of control deficit."
The payroll tax legislation includes a requirement that President Obama make a decision on approving the Keystone XL pipeline within 60 days. The pipeline would take oil from Canada through the U.S. to refineries on the Gulf Coast. Corker is a strong proponent of the Keystone pipeline. He is a cosponsor of the North American Energy Security Act to prevent further delay of the pipeline, and in November, when the State Department announced it would delay its decision on the pipeline until 2013, Corker called on Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry to hold a hearing "to assess the full impact of postponement on U.S. industry, energy security, and economic growth."
In his letter to Chairman Kerry on November 17, Corker wrote: "With the unemployment rate at 9 percent, I have serious concerns about the impact this deferral may have on job creation. Reports indicate that the pipeline's construction will create up to 20,000 direct jobs immediately and could create tens of thousands of indirect jobs. Further, it would inhibit U.S. access to 800,000 barrels of Canadian oil daily from a stable and dependable economic partner, reinforcing our dependence on the Middle East and other volatile oil producing countries. Since this decision, it has been reported that Canada is already looking for other markets to sell their oil and once this opportunity to do business with a stable partner is gone, I fear it will be gone forever."