Iraq War commander Gen. David Petraeus deserves a chance to turn things around before Congress pulls the plug on war funding, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker told about 150 Northeast Tennessee chamber of commerce members during a breakfast Tuesday.
“This is a man who will tell us this summer whether the activity on the ground there is actually working or not, and whether we turn what has been a downward spiral for the last year into an upward spiral,” Corker, a Tennessee Republican, said of Petraeus’ mission in Iraq.
Corker and U.S. Rep. David Davis, R-1st, were the speaking guests during what was billed as a “freshman forum” to feature the views of new congressional members.
Both Corker and Tennessee’s senior U.S. Senator, Lamar Alexander, voted against a Senate war funding bill last week because it includes language setting an arbitrary date for withdrawal in Iraq.
“The Senate and House should work out our differences next week and quickly send the bill to the president for his veto. Then we can pass a new bill that does what it’s supposed to: fund and support our troops,” Alexander said in an e-mailed release.
Corker, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he developed his views after visiting Iraq, hearing committee testimony from experts and meeting privately with Petraeus “to ask the kind of questions business people might ask.”
Corker suggested that in addition to sectarian violence, bad economic conditions are fueling the insurgency in Iraq.
“In Iraq, one head of household supports 13 people, very different from here in America. So jobs and unemployment obviously have a very big impact,” he said.
When asked about America’s policy toward Iran, a government currently holding a handful of British soldiers hostage, Corker said the Bush Administration is getting it right.
“The U.N. sanctions are having a huge effect (on Iran),” he noted. “...Obviously this hostage situation complicates things, but the sanctions are having a crimping effect, and we should give them a back door to gracefully back out of what they are doing with their nuclear program.”
During the breakfast, Corker and Davis also gave their views on health care policy.
Corker said Congress has a “moral responsibility” to offer citizens affordable health care.
Davis said talk of nationalized health care sounds good but doesn’t work. He related a story told to him by U.S. Rep. Phil English, a Republican who represents a western Pennsylvania congressional district.
“He told me 50 percent of the patients in Erie hospitals are coming down from Canada,” Davis said. “If (nationalized health care) works so well, why are they having to leave Canada to come to America for health care? The problem we have with nationalized health care is the big bureaucracy and that things move slowly.”
Davis also warned that Congressional Democrats want to restore the so-called “marriage penalty” and “death tax” in the federal tax code.
“Taxes would rise on average by $3,960 for 26 million small business owners. That’s not the type of budget we need in America,” Davis said.
For more about Corker go towww.corker.senate.gov
For more about Davis go to www.daviddavis.house.gov