To begin reducing the nation's long-term deficits and rebuilding the lack of trust in Washington over excessive spending, U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., today called on Congress to begin making reforms to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security to deal with the upcoming fiscal deadlines.
Corker identified two reforms as a starting point: moving to a more accurate measure of inflation ("chained CPI") and requiring wealthy seniors to contribute more for their Medicare benefits ("means testing"), both of which were advocated by the president's Simpson-Bowles deficit commission and were considered in budget talks between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner.
"When Congress reconvenes in two weeks, we will be facing twin deficits: dealing with the issue of our time, our country's crushing debt, and addressing the deficit of trust in Washington. I think we have all seen that recent attempts at grand bargains have created crisis after crisis, and in the end, that approach has under delivered," said Corker.
"In our nation's history, the best way big problems have been solved is through presidential leadership, but in the absence of a president who will lead on this issue, one constructive way to start tackling our financial deficit and the fiscal deadlines we face this quarter -- raising the debt ceiling, passing a continuing resolution to fund government, and resolving the sequester -- is to begin legislating on entitlements in areas where there has been strong bipartisan consensus in Congress as well as White House support: chained CPI adjustments and Medicare means testing.
"I plan on introducing legislation to enact these reforms when we return, and after we pass these, though it will not be fast or easy, we must continue grinding through a similar process, month after month, using regular order, one piece at a time, until we have put our country's finances back on a sustainable path. In this manner, these fiscal deadlines we face don't have to create a crisis but could be addressed incrementally, one step at a time.
"Elected officials have praised the concept of "entitlement reform,' but it's way past time to move beyond platitudes, start enacting real reforms now, save these programs for the future and save our country in the process. Only responsible actions will begin to rebuild the trust deficit that exists in Congress."