Mark Warner might be in D.C., but he’s definitely not of D.C.
“No matter how many challenges you’ve got in the Valley or on City Council or others, they are not as wacky as the people that I work with up in D.C.,” Sen. Warner, D-Va., said during a visit to Waynesboro on March 2.
Talking with leaders from local government and the local business community at the Waynesboro YMCA, Warner talked up his efforts through the Gang of Six – a bipartisan group of six senators – to build coalitions in the Senate and the House of Representatives to work toward solutions to the nation’s fiscal and economic problems.
“The one promise I want to make to all of you is this: I am in some small way still trying to get a group of us in the Congress who will stop being Democrats and Republicans and be Americans first,” Warner said.
There has, of course, been plenty of partisan posturing on fiscal and economic issues, but particularly on the federal-budget front, it’s been a lot of talk about a relative sliver of the budget pie.
“The problem we’ve got right now is that all of the cuts that we’ve made so far have all been from the one part of the federal government that’s called domestic discretionary spending. Now, what does that mean in English? That means the amount the federal government spends on education, infrastructure – our roads, sewer, rail – energy, research and development, law enforcement, early childhood. All these things – but that’s only 14 cents on every dollar that we spend,” Warner said.
There are going to have to be additional cuts in the domestic discretionary spending area, Warner said, “but we also have to look at how we can pare back some of our defense spending, and we also have to look at how we can look at our entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and make sure that they’re still going to exist 50 years from now.”
“That’s going to take some changes. And it’s going to mean that we’re going to have to look at our tax code and find ways to generate more revenue. I’m not saying we’ve got to raise taxes, but you are going to have to look at eliminating some of the tax deductions in there right now. It’s not fair that some companies are paying 35 percent and some companies are paying 5 percent,” Warner said.
To resolve these longstanding issues, Warner said, “everybody needs to have some skin in the game.”
“If we don’t do this, you ought to fire us all. Because if we don’t do this, we are not doing the jobs that we’re hired to do,” Warner said.