Sen. Bob Corker’s America’s Debt Town Hall presentation on the growing national debt was well received Thursday night at host Belmont University — that is, until audience members were given the microphone.
The featured speaker at the event, held at BU’s Massey Performing Arts Center and broadcast by SuperTalk 99.7 WTN, Corker said he is “worried that most Americans don’t understand the depth of the problem.” He spent approximately 30 minutes using charts and statistics to show the audience what he acknowledged most in the room already know: the U.S. government spends more than it collects and, thus, the national debt is growing.
“If you spent a day with me in Washington and saw how Washington spends your money,” Corker said, “you’d be embarrassed.”
The Tennessee senator referenced his previously announced plan to propose a nine-page bill — so brief by D.C. standards that its mention was met with laughter from the audience and the senator alike — that would cap government spending at, ideally, 18 percent of gross domestic product based on current revenue numbers.
While receptive audience applause interrupted the presentation multiple times, the tone shifted once the microphone changed hands.
A particularly heated moment came when one man asked if members of Congress, including Corker, would return the raises they most recently approved for themselves. Corker, a former Chattanooga mayor, responded by noting he gives his congressional salary to a variety of charities.
Many audience members said they feel drastic steps are needed to address the economy and that Corker’s approach is insufficient. Some questioned the likelihood of a debt-free state under the current currency model, while others called for a full audit of the federal government.
Taking issue with talk of compromise by some on Capitol Hill, one woman in the audience elicited what may have been the most emotional response from the crowd all night, offering Corker “advice.”
“You may raise your hand across the aisle and the other side may shake it,” the woman said. “They may slap it. They may ignore it. But we at the ballot box will amputate it.”