WASHINGTON, D.C. – Anticipating the possibility than an agreement to avert the fiscal cliff might not adequately reduce the nation’s long-term deficits, Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker introduced legislation Wednesday to raise the debt ceiling by roughly $1 trillion in exchange for reforms to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
As part of the proposal, nearly $1 trillion would be tweaked out of the entitlement programs.
Corker said the bill is designed to address the national debt in case House Speaker John Boehner and President Barack Obama fail to reach a deal before the federal government falls off the fiscal cliff, which would result in automatic spending cuts and tax hikes next year.
“I continue to hope Speaker Boehner and President Obama will negotiate a deal north of $4 trillion before year-end," he said, "but I think we should also prepare now for the possibility that they do not."
The next opportunity Congress has to make the structural, transformative reforms to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid that will save these programs and put the country on a path to fiscal solvency is the debt ceiling debate, he said.
“I’ve introduced dollar-for-dollar legislation that will raise the debt ceiling by roughly $1 trillion in exchange for roughly $1 trillion in reforms to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid," Corker said. "This bill incorporates many of the recommendations made in the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles and Domenici-Rivlin proposals. This bill meets our obligations to older and younger Americans."
He said young Americans expect Congress to solve the lingering fiscal issues so they are not saddled with debt and robbed of their opportunity for the American dream, but he noted that seniors also expect lawmakers to honor the commitments previously made to them.
The proposed savings in Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid were also included in a fiscal reform proposal offered by Corker last month that would lead to $4.5 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years.