But, the former Chattanooga mayor is concerned that a recovering economy and increased revenue have lessened the pressure to deal with the fiscal issue.
“Revenues are coming in much faster than they have in the past which is a sign of an early recovery which is a great thing,” he said. “We still have not gotten down to the tough work.”
He said, “I’m glad about the economy. I’m glad about the revenue, but I’m not glad about the fact that it seems like it’s going to be a little bit more difficult to bring some attention to this issue.”
Corker spoke for about 40 minutes on a variety of issues, including Syria and health care.
However, much of his time was used to answer a question concerning the relationship between the U.S. and China.
Corker said China views the United States as a nation in decline “because we won’t deal with our fiscal issues. They see us as dissipating and they know our greatness is dissipating if we don’t deal with that and they are questioning what our military involvement is going to be in that part of the world.”
China is pressing in the South China Sea and in the East China Sea to see how the U.S. reacts.
“They will continue to flex. We continue to push back. We continue to stand by Taiwan, but also stand by Japan as it relates to a territorial issue,” he said. “It’s very complicated. They are beginning to work with us on North Korea.”
He said China is the only country in the world that can cause North Korea to denuclearize, and the U.S. is having very positive conversations with China.
“It (our relationship) is going to be complex and one that we’re going to have to be engaged in nonstop,” he said. “What would be really bad for this world and what would be really bad for the citizens of this country, is we don’t manage that relationship in the appropriate way.”
Corker said China has 1.4 billion people and with the growth of its own standard of living, and with investment in its own military growing, “it’s going to be a relationship that is one of the most complex relationships we’re going to have as a nation.”
On one hand, American exports to China are probably growing very rapidly as that country’s standard of living improves. China is going through a period of massive urbanization as the population moves from the farms to cities.
“China is an important customer and may be even more important down the road. They are going to have a huge economy and may even surpass us,” he said. “On the other hand, they are ripping us off. It is unbelievable what they are doing and I am sure it is happening to companies right here in Bradley County.”
The senator said the Chinese argue that every country that has gone through a period of industrialization has stolen intellectual property from others.
“What they are saying is that when the United States grew and became the industrial force it was, we copied technology from Europe and other places,” he said. “It is exasperating to talk to leaders and explain to them that that’s different than absolute theft. Right now, Chinese companies are ripping off companies throughout this country.”
The theft of technology, he said, is a threat to employment and it negatively affects the standard of living of U.S. citizens.
“We’ve got to figure out a way to bring them in to this code of ethics of the 21st century and I think one of the ways we can help speed that along is really speed up that trade agreement called Trans Pacific Partnership. We’re working on a trade agreement with other countries in that area so we can set standards that if China wants to play ball, they’ll need to accommodate over time, but it is a serious threat to our nation,” he said.
He said on one hand, dealing with China is complex while on the other, China presents a great opportunity in terms of exports.