U.S. Sen. Bob Corker thinks a possible sale of the Tennessee Valley Authority will not help solve the nation’s debt problems, but thinks the utility should be reviewed as called for in President Barack Obama’s 2014 budget.
Corker spoke to a crowd at East Tennessee State University on Thursday morning, fielding questions in a town hall-style meeting that began shortly after 10.
Speaking to the media afterward, Corker said it was unfortunate that because of the way the TVA has been operated over the years the utility is worth less than its debt, so that means selling the TVA to generate deficit reduction is going backward.
“On the other hand, I’m all for looking at entities like TVA from time to time and seeing what’s best for the taxpayers,” he said.
He doesn’t think the TVA has invested wisely over the years, has been poorly managed and has huge pension problems that need to be addressed.
“That’s why I’ve been pushing to have a professional board, people that understand a balance sheet and understand business, to be there,” he said.
Corker also touched on the Wednesday nomination by Obama of U.S. Rep. Mel Watt, a Democrat, to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
This agency was created in 2008 to oversee Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks.
Corker said now that taxpayers have $180 billion invested in these mortgage lenders.
“First of all, we’ve got to unwind Freddie and Fannie,” Corker said. “This can not continue as is. In order to unwind Fannie and Freddie, we need a technocrat overseeing these entities. We don’t need a politician. I mean, it’s politicians that fouled up Fannie and Freddie in the first place, so I was really despondent when I saw yesterday” that a politician had been nominated to lead the FHFA.
Corker also touched on international issues, including the civil war in Syria, where rebels are fighting the forces of president Bashar al-Assad.
According to the Associated Press, the Obama administration is rethinking its opposition to arming Syrian rebels.
This rethinking is a result of the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria.
“We’re trying to look at the chain of custody right now, and by the way, where the human samples came from,” Corker said of the chemical weapons allegation.
“My sense is, though, we do need to play a role in changing the equation in Syria,” he said.
Corker said there are secular and extremist forces at work in Syria. The extremists are affiliated with Al-Qaeda.
He wants to provide humanitarian help and arms to the appropriate groups.
“I don’t think there’s any question that over time Assad is going to fall,” Corker said. “We just want to make sure that when he falls, you end up having a group that can govern the country in an appropriate way. Syria touches Jordan, touches Lebanon, touches Israel, touches Iraq. You can imagine if it fell to Al-Qaeda what a disaster it would be for that hotbed in the middle of the Middle East.”