Corker: Congress can reach a grand bargain, but only if Obama gets 'serious'

Republican Sen. Bob Corker expressed optimism Sunday about Democrats and Republicans reaching a long-term budget deal, but only if President Obama provides leadership and gets "serious” about entitlements.

"When the president is serious will be when he begins using the podium to explain to the American people that the average American family is only paying one-third of the cost of Medicare," Corker told “Fox News Sunday.”

The Tennessee senator said he is optimistic about the Republican-controlled House and the Democrat-controlled Senate achieving a so-called “grand bargain.” But Obama needs to come to the table and he and fellow Democrats have to be serious about “true entitlement reform,” Corker said.

Corker suggested Republicans are willing to meet Democrats halfway by perhaps agreeing to tax reform through closing loopholes, but not through tax increases.

“I think there is a chance of a deal,” he said.

Right now, the House has a plan that would reduce the federal budget by $4.6 trillion through spending cuts over the next 10 years. The Senate has presented a plan that would cut the budget by $1.8 trillion through a mix of cuts and tax increases.

The Senate first must pass a temporary budget, or continuing resolution, before negotiating on the larger budget. Lawmakers hope to reach a bipartisan deal by July.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told Fox that both sides have an “excellent opportunity” to reach a deal and that Corker’s basic plan is consistent with what lawmakers on both sides have been trying to achieve.

“Let’s put everything on the table,” he said.

Durbin also said Democrats also want to preserve Medicare for “generations to come.”