Heath care reform isn't the only national issue worrying U.S. Senator Bob Corker these days.
America's rising debt and deficit are also on his mind, the first-term Republican said last week following his town hall meeting with citizens at the Cannon County Senior Center.
"Obviously I am very concerned. I think that's why this health care debate has hit such a nerve," Corker said. "The American people know that over the next five years that per the budget put forth by the administration, our debt since founding is going to double over the next five years and triple over the next 10 and I think it is their sense that our government is out of control." I think it's the thing that sort of driven the outpouring of people's concern about a trillion dollar health care bill.
Corker said common sense has been lacking by both political parties when it comes to federal spending.
"Both sides of the isle have been at fault in getting us where we are," Corker said. "I do think that over the last six months spending and reliance on government programs has heightened tremendously. We just have got to get back in the middle of the road and use that great common sense that made Tennessee great in Washington. But it is going to take people on both sides of the isle to do that. Neither side has been as good as it should have been (in controlling federal spending)."
While Corker discussed a number of issues during his town hall meeting here, the issue that was at the forefront was health care reform.
Many of the speakers who addressed Sen. Corker were in favor of a single-payer system, while about an equal number were opposed
"Yes we need health reform. It is called responsibility," Tom Kobinsky, an opponent of a government-run system, said. "We are not guaranteed entitlements. We are guaranteed opportunities.It is not the government's responsibility to wipe my butt."
On the opposite side of the debate was James Rose, a local farmer who said he made about $8,000, which is an amount equal to what he had to pay for a recent surgery.
"I live in Cannon County, I work in Cannon County, I am a farmer in Cannon County and I sell my vegetables to residents of Cannon County. I work about 80 hours a week. I had my appendix removed. I don't have insurance. I feel like this country is getting divided. We can solve all these issues."
Corker said that additional ways needed to be created for people to get health care insurance, but dumbing down the current system was not the answer.
"I believe that we do need health care reform, health care insurance reform, of some sort in this nation," Corker said. About 842,000 people in are without health care and I see the consequences of not having insurance.
Corker said tort reform was needed to reduce the amount doctors pay in malpractice insurance, and competition across state lines.
He said changes to the tax code were also needed to assist people in purchasing health care insurance. "If you buy your health insurance you should be able to deduct it from your taxes," he said.
"I do not think we should have a government option. What we want to do is do no harm. If people have health insurance they want to keep they should be able to.
Corker said the country can not afford the one trillion dollar price tag it is estimated the current reform proposal would cost.
"If we do reform it has to be budget neutral and pass the common sense test," he said.