Wicker made his remarks in a panel interview Friday at the University of Mississippi's Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics.
Before local journalists asked questions, Wicker offered concerns about "the issue that keeps me awake at night." Asserting that Social Security and Medicare are unsustainable at present funding and benefit levels, he reminded the audience that the kind of bipartisan cooperation that saved Social Security in the 1980s is necessary again now.
"We need some Ronald Reagans and Tip O'Neills again," he said.
Three journalists posed questions. Participants were Sandra Knispel of Mississippi Public Broadcasting, Emily Le Coz of the Daily Journal and Margaret Ann Morgan of the Daily Mississippian.
Wicker called the "Buffett Rule" bill, which would impose at least a 30 percent federal tax on incomes of $1 million or more, "a political move in an election year" that would have minimal effect on deficits.
"It would be a disincentive for people to take a risk and put money into job creation," he said, adding that he would support closing many tax-code loopholes instead.
Wicker's answer to curbing health costs would be to promote competition among medical insurers and providers, noting that just a system has driven down the cost of many prescriptions.
"I'd like to hear a commercial someday saying, 'In 15 minutes you can save 15 percent or more on your health insurance with GEICO,'" he said.
Asked about environmental issues, Wicker said he wants the EPA to limit its regulation to major issues.
He said global warming is unsettled science and should not drain resources from such immediate needs as famine relief.
"Scientists down through the decades and down through the centuries have ended up being wrong about a number of things that everybody was certain about," he said. "I am willing to listen about the issue, but I have my doubts."
When questions turned to foreign policy, Wicker said he'd favor actively opposing the Syrian government and would support Israeli action against a nuclear-armed Iran.
"The fall of Assad would be devastating for the Iranian regime," he said. "Israel is going to do something, and at that point this government is going to have to decide whether it's going to stand with one of its oldest and strongest allies."