When you see what's happened with consumer spending, at Christmas especially, Christmas sales, holiday sales, and you understand that 70 percent of the economy is all about consumer spending, we need a real stimulus to get people to spend money. And that means putting money in infrastructure, water and sewer.
I held around Ohio about 130 roundtables in all 88 counties in the last couple of years, and one of the things I hear everywhere, mostly from economic development people, is that the federal government doesn't do what it used to do with water and sewer systems, and if we don't invest in water and sewer, we can't do the kind of long-term economic development and job growth we need.
So it's not just shovel-ready projects that are ready to go now that will create jobs. It's also green jobs, and it's also building for the future. So when you do economic stimulus, it really needs to look at what kinds of jobs it's going to create, not just immediately, but two years, five years, 10 years down the road.
TAPPER: Senator Corker, you voted against the last stimulus package, which was a relatively paltry $152 billion. How much are you willing to spend here?
CORKER: Well, the last stimulus package was silly. It had no effect and I certainly voted against it.
I think at the end of the day, the biggest thing we can do still -- and I know that every president during an economic downturn has to feel like a package is forthcoming, and we hope that it's productive. The minimum requirement ought to be that it does no harm.
But still, the biggest thing we can do -- and what I'm seeing here in my own state -- is get the credit markets functioning so that local banks are lending money to small businesses that create the jobs that all of us care so much about.
So I'm not looking at any number. Certainly I hope that whatever we do is transparent, I hopes it goes through the regular committee process, I hope we have an opportunity to see the effect. And certainly, anything that's done in a stimulus package ought to be those kinds of things that are productive and move us ahead and are not just throwing money out in order to say that we've done something.
So I'm concerned about the size of it. You know, the numbers that have been thrown out are actually larger in today's dollars than the entire interstate system that was built 50 or 60 years ago. So whatever we do, again, let's make sure that it's productive, it actually consists of things that need to be done, and actually move our economy ahead.
And let's remember the backdrop. A year ago, we were concerned about the huge federal deficit that we have. We still have the Medicare and Social Security issue to deal with.
So -- and let me mention one other thing, the retail numbers. There's actually to me a silver lining there, and that is that we have citizens in this country that have taken on far too much debt. What we saw during the retail, this last retail cycle was people were actually saving money.
There's going to have to be a good deal of that for our citizens to get back in sync, if you will, with incomes versus debt. And so, we can expect that some of that is going to occur.