“I have to tell you. I don’t believe we’ve had a president in modern history who is more misguided about what it is that causes a great nation like ours to unleash the innovative, creative and dynamic abilities this country has,” he said.
“I know him. I do not have an adversarial position with him. He’s been kind to me. We met in Memphis recently when we had floods down there and he couldn’t be more of a gentleman; but I have never met somebody more misguided about what makes this country great.”
The dinner Friday evening was held in memory of Tennessee Republican stalwart, the late Dr. Cecil Stanbery.
Congressman Chuck Fleischmann was in attendance as was candidate Dr. Jean Howard-Hill, who hopes to unseat the freshman representative. Weston Wamp, the 24-year-old son of former Congressman Zach Wamp, was absent.
The evening featured a straw poll won by Atlanta businessman Herman Cain with 61 votes. Texas Gov. Rick Perry finished in second place with 36 votes; Mitt Romney, 25; Newt Gingrich, 9; Ron Paul, 2; Michele Bachman and Rick Santorum each received one vote. John Huntsman did not receive a vote.
Corker told party members at the annual Reagan Day Dinner in Cleveland High School that generally speaking, leaders have figured out ways to unite the country in times of crises.
“What I see him and the people around him doing every single day is, instead of trying to unite people around the things that make this country great, they literally wake up every day trying to divide,” he said.
The former building contractor and Chattanooga mayor said there is hope of economic recovery in Southeast Tennessee because of all of the economic development activity and prospects for employment.
He referred to the president’s jobs bill as “sugary,” “short term,” “not well thought out idea” and an embarrassment to his own Democratic Party.
Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to bring the president’s jobs bill to a vote.
“Sen. Harry Reid objected,” Corker said.
“He objected to bringing our own president’s bill to the floor,” Corker said.
He said Reid objected because the United States Senate was united in that none of them wanted to pass the jobs bill.
“Harry Reid did not want to embarrass the president by bringing a jobs bill to the United States Senate floor and have people on both sides of the aisle uniformly send it back and reject it,” Corker said.
“The president has no clue about what it takes to create jobs and people on his own side of the aisle have begun to realize that.”
Corker said people around the country believe Washington has lost its ability and courage to deal with problems facing the nation.
“The thing that’s holding this country back right now is people around the nation believe Washington has lost its way and Washington has lost its ability to deal with the big issues,” he said. “The thing the country is looking for right now is courage. Courage to deal with our indebtedness issues. Everybody knows we can’t continue as we are. I think they want to see us deal with tax reform in a real way.”
He said Americans are not looking for some short-term fix that will soon go away, but something they can count on in the future.
“I believe with the tremendous amount of cash that’s setting on the sidelines in many of our businesses around the country, that if we would just create that air of predictability, the economy would take off,” he said.
The United States gives away $1.2 trillion a year in the tax code to special interests, which means everybody else’s tax rates in the country are higher than they should be. He said a flat tax has an opportunity with the super committee that has been set up.
“If everybody’s taxes are reduced, you give everybody a raise, right? What does that do for you? What does that do for business?” he asked.
He used ethanol subsidies as an example. He said lobbyists told him 4 1⁄2 years ago the ethanol industry would never need another subsidy if they could be guaranteed oil would never drop below $40 a barrel. When was the last time oil has been less than $40 a barrel? he asked.
“We continue to give subsidies to industries that no longer need it, but our tax code is riddled with that kind of thing,” he said.
The average family earning $43,500 each year pays $109,000 into Medicare, including employer contributions. The same average American family costs Medicare more than $347,000.
“The math doesn’t work,” he said.
Medicare can be solved with small adjustments. No one advocates “pulling the rug out from under” people who are on Medicare or close to retirement, but the fund will be insolvent by 2024.
“If we don’t deal with it, what’s going to happen? It’s not going to be there for anybody,” he said. “So, what I think this country is looking for right now, it they are looking for leaders in Washington that are willing to make tough decisions that need to be made.”