Corker speaks to Franklin business and civic leaders at Noon Rotary meeting
By Pam Horne, Managing Editor
Sen. Bob Corker, a former Rotarian, addresses the Franklin Noon Rotary Club. PHOTO BY BRANDY BLANTON
Earlier today, Franklin business and civic leaders heard from the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, whose position on covert activities in foreign affairs has propelled him to center stage.
Sen. Bob Corker, a former Rotarian, addressed Franklin’s oldest Rotary Club at First Presbyterian Church in Franklin.
Foreign affairs, however, took a back seat to issues of the federal budget, and specifically, new legislation he has sponsored with Sen. Mark Warner, of Virginia, to reconfigure who is at the financial helm of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
This proposed legislation, his desire to see much greater on-the-ground security along national borders, and his belief that a total government shutdown would be counter-productive, held the audience’s attention a bit beyond the club’s strict one- hour schedule.
However, within two hours of leaving Franklin behind schedule, Corker gave an exclusive interview on National Public Radio’s, All Things Considered to underscore his belief that Congress needs to have a much greater oversight role in international covert activities, pointing to a recent 15-3 vote from the Foreign Relations Committee this stance.
During the interview with Audie Cornish, Corker emphasized that he is not interested in hamstringing action in situations where the country is in eminent danger, but that he believes it is a major Congressional responsibility to provide a forum for public debate on many, many decisions currently being implemented.
He offered the current rebel activity in Syria as an example.
Back to Franklin, and his speech on domestic affairs.
A separate, but just as pressing matter to Corker is legislation he introduced this summer with Sen. Warner (D-Va).
The Housing Finance Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act, Corker said, attempts to “strengthen America’s housing finance system by replacing government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with a privately capitalized system.”
The legislation “preserves the availability of desirable mortgage products to creditworthy borrowers and fully protects taxpayers from future economic downturns.”
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, very different entities than the private sector companies that received government funding, were given a $187 billion bailout in the financial crisis beginning in 2008.
Today, the two entities are posting big profits.
The Corker-Warner bill (S. 1217) includes but is not limited to these components:
1) Mandates ten percent capital, up front, for the system to protect taxpayers against future bailouts.
2) Transfers appropriate utility duties and functions to the modernized, streamlined and accountable Federal Mortgage Insurance Corporation (FMIC) modeled in part after the FDIC
3) Corker said he favors taking the $5 trillion government asset that is currently 100 percent government guaranteed and putting the private sector way in front.
During his speech the Tennessee Republican and former state commissioner of finance said that even President Obama might agree with the private capital concept. “I think you saw the president talking about having a need for private capital out front,”
In other issues, Corker talked about his general approach to Washington and leadership as it pertains to the greatest issue on his mind—fixing the fiscal matters.
“I really feel like having a pragmatic approach to solving problems is the right thing now.”
When it comes to deliberations and debates on the budget after Labor Day, he said he is looking for “a better, more sane solution.”
His position on the potential sequestration, the mechanism in place that would automatically shut down government operations, was stated clearly.
“Even if you shut down government, it’s not going to keep the Affordable Care Act from being implemented.”
Members of Congress who take that approach, he said, will not accomplish their stated goal because the law as it stands receives mandatory funding, not discretionary funding.
Lawmakers have until September 30 to work out their differences.
He said that upon his arrival in Washington, six and a half years ago, “Washington had gone to heck in a hand basket.”
The former Rotarian said he wished that everyone in our nation’s capitol would use the Rotary Four-way test before they acted.
Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build good will and friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
In a brief private interview following the luncheon, Corker spoke to the Herald, addressing his style of leadership and how it fits in the current debates at home and in Washington.
“I’m an individual,” he said. “I’m going to speak my mind. I think people respect people who are willing to talk about things that are sane, real, and pragmatic and speak with total honesty.”
He told the Herald he had made no hard fast plans about a third term, but said he was in the business of helping to solve problems for the long haul.
Posted on: 8/8/2013