Home Budget, Economy Is Mark Warner’s Unflappable Deficit Focus Ironically Pound-Foolish?

Is Mark Warner’s Unflappable Deficit Focus Ironically Pound-Foolish?


Mark WarnerCongress has been unable to pass a deficit reduction plan because Republicans steadfastly refuse to raise taxes on the wealthy. Democrats have put discretionary spending, the social safety net, and even the short-term health of the economy on the table, but the GOP will accept no deals. That’s why the Gang of Six broke down in May. That’s why talks between President Obama & John Boehner went nowhere in July. That’s why the Deficit SuperCommittee defaulted to automatic cuts to discretionary & defense spending in November. Yes, Republicans would rather risk re-election on charges of being weak on national security than raise taxes on the ultra-wealthy. So why would they rather do so something so thankless as cut the long-term deficit than raise taxes on the ultra-wealthy?

Yet long after Washington has moved on to extending the payroll tax cut & discussing the best ways to create jobs, Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) is continuing his deficit crusade:

Virginia U.S. Sen. Mark Warner won’t relax until significant federal debt reduction is accomplished. “This is whether Congress is up to governing and knocking $4 trillion off the debt. It’s not curing cancer and it’s not defeating Communism. But until we get this dealt with, we can’t do anything else,” Warner said.

Congress IS doing other things. It’s working on extending payroll tax cuts and unemployment insurance. President Obama has begged Congress to pass his American Jobs Act to raise taxes on the wealthy to put people back to work.

But instead of cutting his losses, Warner is still investing his time in the failed Gang of Six:

Warner has co-led with Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., a group known as as the “Gang of Six,” three Republican and three Democratic senators. The group has worked for a year on a way to accomplish the $4 trillion debt reduction suggested by the Simpson-Bowles Commission.

The “Gang of Six” has a blueprint that involves spending cuts, raising revenue and reforming entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The “Gang of Six” proposal has the support of perhaps 45 senators and 100 to 105 members of the U.S. House. […]

In Washington, besides the “Gang of Six,” Warner is now co-hosting monthly bipartisan dinners for groups of 20 senators with veteran Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander.

After nearly a year of laser-like focus on the deficit, Warner has managed to win over … about 2 in 5 of his Senate colleagues and barely 1 in 5 House members. It’s fair to ask whether continuing to pursue this is the best use of Warner’s time.

And given that the federal government can borrow money at negative inflation-adjusted rates, is the deficit focus even justified? This isn’t like running up a credit card bill at high interest rates – it’s like going to buy a car and being offered zero percent financing for 10 years.

Look, President Obama spent a year trying to play nice with Republicans. It didn’t work, so now President Obama is pivoting to run for re-election against a do-nothing Congress. If Sen. Warner has a similar plan, great.

If not, what IS Mark Warner’s plan? Spend another year having dinner with his Gang of Six friends with nothing to show for it?

  • Peter Rousselot

    Miles nails it. Mark Warner succeeded with this budget balancing tactic as Governor of Virginia because there were a few “moderate” Republicans remaining in VA GOP legislative leadership in the 2002-2005 time frame in which Mark served as Governor, and he was able to cut deals with them. That era is long gone–both in Virginia and nationally. By stubbornly continuing to portray himself as a radical centrist, while the Republicans continue to move the center to the right, Mark Warner is alienating a significant part of his VA Democratic base. He needs to find another issue or issues to make his “mark” in the U.S. Senate.

  • listlady

    if he did turn to focus on some other issue, what’s the likelihood that it would be something progressives prefer?

  • Will Radle

    Reviewing TheGreenMiles’ post and the subsequent comments, I understand others may not see the issue yet as I do.

    Some may have forgotten interest rates can only go up from here. We effectively have a balloon note. The argument presented is a sucker’s bet that overlooks our current course toward annual interest payments exceeding $1 Trillion by 2020. One Trillion dollars each year in interest payments. Your quality of life is at stake; indeed lives are at risk. The social safety nets will be bankrupt. The future along our present path portends dreaded choices.

    We just commemorated the 20th anniversary of the collapse of the USSR. Fiscal and economic challenges were the cause of their collapse and threaten the republic founded by Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin and Mason.

    The plan I wrote, “Solutions for an Enduring Nation: Restoring Confidence in America’s Future” invests in human capital. We achieve universal health care strengthening doctor-patient relationships. We expand access to higher education as well as investments in K-12 education providing positive incentives empowering generations of future Americans to fulfill their full potential.

    We increase household incomes while making Social Security and Medicare solvent.

    We eliminate the deficit, reduce our debt and invest in our future. We lower the costs of American production and attract active investment of Trillions of additional dollars in our economy. The funds are sitting on the sidelines today because consistent failure of Democrats and Republicans undermines consumer and investor confidence.

    I have sought to support my Representative in taking responsible action. He has failed. The Washington Post states he is unfit for public office. House Democratic leaders including Nancy Pelosi say he is an embarrassment.

    He did submit my plan to the Congressional Budget Office for analysis without proper coded language. We cannot blame him for his clumsy performance because it is, after all, the only comprehensive economic and fiscal plan he has ever submitted in his time – over 20 years – on Capitol Hill.

    Therefore, I shall seek the Democratic nomination to serve. Together we will help ensure our great nation endures and thrives. We can look forward with confidence to celebrating our republic’s 250th anniversary in 2026 as we do the necessary work of our generation.

    I proudly stand in support of Senator Mark Warner.

    Thank you for letting me share.

    A. Will Radle, Jr.

    Creating a Culture of Listening


  • Will Radle

    the Washington Post says Representative James P. Moran is unfit for public office and Democratic leaders including former Speaker Nancy Pelosi say he is an embarrassment, my focus remains creating effective, sustainable solutions to the challenges confronting our nation for the people of our community.

    At least until the General Assembly or the courts redraw our congressional districts, I reside in the southern Fairfax County portion of Virginia’s 8th Congressional District. Specifically, I reside in Franconia near Kingstowne.

    Representative Gerry Connolly and I get along quite well. I look forward in hopes of working with him in a new capacity. Representative Frank Wolf is the dean of Virginia’s congressional delegation and we can work together well in serving Virginia and our nation. They both know of my genuine desire to be an honorable, effective public servant who actively listens to people across the political and socioeconomic spectra and takes responsible action.

    I encourage readers to purchase or borrow from the public library a new book by Peter Schweizer book “Throw Them All Out”, which was spotlighted on 60 Minutes. Members of Congress from both parties have engaged in insider trading, most notably in 2008 just before the financial crisis hit.

    Schweizer reports Representative Moran went wild with insider trading the day after Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke provided a closed-door classified briefing with members of Congress informing them a global financial crisis was about to hit.

    Schweizer writes, “The next day Congressman Jim Moran, Democrat of Virginia, a member of the Appropriations Committee, dumped his shares in ninety different companies . . . [his] most active trading day of the year. He dumped shares in Goldman Sachs, General Dynamics, Franklin Resources, Flowserve Corporation, Ecolabs, Edison International, Electronic Arts, DirecTV, Conoco, Procter & Gamble, AT&T, Apple, CVS, Cisco, Chubb, and a dozen more companies.”

    After being forced to resign as Mayor of Alexandria, you might expect a person to strive toward conducting himself in a manner beyond reproach. I am not perfect; I am honest and open. It seems Mr. Moran has not yet learned the lesson of his long political career.

    Politicians, including me, must be held accountable and remember none of us are irreplaceable.