Sen. Bob Corker, Tennessee Republican, said Sunday that his GOP colleagues would support a “grand bargain” — a long-term deal addressing the country’s fiscal problems — that includes additional tax revenue if President Obama and the Democrats will back substantive reform in entitlement programs.
“Republicans, if they saw true entitlement reform, would be glad to look at tax reform that generates additional revenues,” Mr. Corker said on “Fox News Sunday.” “That doesn’t mean increasing rates; that means closing loopholes. It also means arranging our tax system so we have economic growth.”
The comments come as the White House has been reaching out to Republicans in recent days, attempting to jump-start bipartisan talks over the country’s short-term economic problems and long-term spending imbalances.
Mr. Corker, 60, said Republicans would like to see a 75-year plan to fix the nation’s entitlement programs, such as Medicare.
“I think there, by the way, is a chance on a deal. I know the president is saying the right things. We have an opportunity over the next four to five months,” he said. “We’ll know when the president is serious by virtue of a process … where he is actually at the table and whether he begins to say publicly to all Americans that he understands that Americans are only paying one-third of the cost of Medicare and that has to change for the program to be here down the road.”
Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, appearing on the same program, called Mr. Corker’s comments constructive.
“What Bob Corker just said from his side is a basic set of principles that both parties can rally around,” the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat said.
While the Corker comments were an indication the White House “charm offensive” may be working on some of the president’s critics, Congress’ most powerful Republican wasn’t buying.
House Speaker John A. Boehner, in an interview with ABC’s “This Week,” said flatly there would be no new revenue in any “grand bargain.”
“The talk about raising revenue is over. It’s time to deal with the spending problem,” Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said. “The president believes that we have to have more taxes from the American people … the president got his tax hikes on January 1.”