Corker: Key to fiscal reform is Medicare

Two days after putting his own fiscal reform plan on hold, Sen. Bob Corker said he was “hopeful” lawmakers will reach an agreement toward reducing the nation’s deficit and averting an impending mix of tax increases and spending cuts.

Corker, who was elected to his second term last week, offered comments as a guest on “Fox News Sunday.”

Remarks by the senator and former Chattanooga mayor were reported on by a number ofmediaoutlets, particularly regarding his stance toward a deal that could include increased revenues from the nation’s top earners by closing tax loopholes instead of increasing tax rates-an item President Barack Obama has made central to his own plan.

“I think there is a deal,” Corker said. “Look at the yin and yang of this: It’s that we know there has to be revenues. And I think, look, I haven’t met a wealthy Republican or Democrat in Tennessee that’s not wiling to contribute more as long as they know we solved the problems. So the yin of revenue we understand, and I think there is a very good pro-growth way of putting that in place so you’re actually getting revenues from people like me and other folks, who are making above X [number of] dollars.”

The senator, who has repeatedlyranked as one of the wealthiest lawmakers in Washington, D.C., emphasized his opinion that “true entitlement reforms” to programs such as Medicare would be essential to the success of any plan.

“I’ve said from day one the key to solving this is Medicare reform,” he said. “If we can agree to Medicare reform, I think the other pieces will fall into place.”

Corker added that he did not think the country would go over the so-called fiscal cliff-a combined $668 billion in tax increases and spending cuts-that are set to go into effect at year’s end unless Congress and the president can reach an agreement and stave off a damaging blow to the economy.

Lawmakers return to Washington for their lame-duck session tomorrow. On Friday, a select group of congressional leaders is expected to meet at the White House to discuss the issue.

Updated @ 8:07 p.m. on 11/12/12.An earlier version of this article stated that Corker favored increased tax rates on households earning more than $250,000 a year. Corker does not favor an increase in the tax rate, but rather increasing revenues from the nation’s top earners by closing tax loopholes.