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Sen. Bob Corker says more will get done with GOP Senate

WASHINGTON — With Republicans close to taking back the Senate, many have concluded the most likely outcome will be even worse partisan gridlock. After all, it’s not like bipartisan coordination has been a hallmark of the last few years.

But Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker sees things differently — and said so in a telephone call with the president recently.

“Republicans will own Congress,” Corker told reporters at a breakfast in Washington Wednesday sponsored by the Wall Street Journal.

He noted that Republicans would have to govern.

“We may see, for the first time,” Corker said, “the dynamic where each side has to be responsible.”

He said he told President Obama that if Republicans were to take the reins of Congress “there could be some issues we can work on.”

He noted that the president, in previous budget negotiations, “showed a little bit of leg,” though “not enough.”

He didn’t elaborate on what specifically equated to a bare Obama ankle, but the president had proposed in 2013 something called “chained CPI,” which would have adjusted how Social Security payments are made.

Corker said his priorities would be the budget; long-term solvency for Social Security, which he said outside of the Highway Trust fund was perhaps the simplest fiscal problem to solve; as well as corporate tax reform.

It’s also notable that while Corker called the Affordable Care Act “damaging,” he said it could be built on.

“Wasn’t it a Republican idea … Don’t we really want individuals in our country to have their own health insurance?” Corker said after calling exchanges “a great way for people to buy health care.”

In other words, 50 efforts at repeal might not be the best idea. Put him in the “fix the law” camp.

He also dismissed the idea of impeaching President Obama.

“Democrats may be trying to egg that on,” he said. “I don’t know of any thoughtful person talking about impeaching the president … not one serious person thinks that’s a path to go down.”

Corker has certainly established himself as someone willing to find areas to govern with the other side. The questions are going to be what would Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pursue (if he survives his competitive reelection bid in Kentucky) and, more importantly, how do Republicans like Corker bridge the gap with the House?

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