It will be interesting to see if the presumptive Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate crosses swords with Virginia’s senior Senator over Warner’s campaign themes. It is hard to disagree with Warner’s concern for student loan debt, the federal deficit, or that Congress is too polarized to compromise.
Those were the essence of his three campaign themes as Mark Warner headed out on a six day sweep across Virginia that began last Friday. Born in a middle class family, educated in public schools, and the first person in his family to graduate from college, Warner is the epitome of the American dream. It was not a direct line to success for him; his first and second businesses failed.
“In America, everybody ought to get a fair shot. It doesn’t mean we can guarantee you success. But it does mean that everybody ought to get a fair shot.”
Warner wonders if our children and grandchildren will have the same fair shot he had at success. If working hard doesn’t mean you can make it, then it will become a very different America. Specifically he wonders if he would have had the courage to fail had he come out of college with the crushing student debt people face when they graduate today.
“Prediction here. Next financial crisis: student debt. $1.1 trillion in student debt. More student debt than there is credit card debt.”
For every major piece of legislation he works on, Warner seeks out a Republican partner. One such is with Senator Marco Rubio (FL): “Know before you go.” He proposes metrics that will allow potential students (and parents) to measure the value of the education they are seeking so they may be informed consumers. He also believes that debtors ought to be able to refinance student loans to take advantage of fluctuations in interest rates.
Fair shot extends beyond student debt. It includes competition with foreign countries who give tax credits to companies to start up there. And it includes a rational immigration policy in the global completion for human capital.
“If we don’t get our fiscal house in order, shame on us.”
Fiscal responsibility is Warner’s second theme. Warner is concerned about another government shutdown resulting from the 2015 budget negotiations. He fears that the first items that will get cut are education, infrastructure, and research, all vital to economic growth. Warner points to being willing to discuss entitlement changes.
Discussing government programs: “We are going to have to find ways to economize and streamline.”
The final theme is that bipartisanship is essential to “getting to ‘yes.'” He believes the American people want less confrontation. He points to the Affordable Care Act as something that can be improved and streamlined. Start with the recognition that Congress never gets it right the first time, he says.
“Neither political party has got a monopoly on truth or patriotism or virtue.”
Being billed as a Town Hall, the Senator opened the floor to questions and fielded a variety of queries. I have already written about one. There are one or two more I will highlight in the next days.
The house was packed for Senator Mark Warner’s stop in Harrisonburg last Friday. Reports are that was consistently so at every stop. This man has to be Virginia’s most familiar and widely respected politician. He is at home in every corner of the state. So his appearances always have the feel of a homecoming. Quite an accomplishment, actually.
To paraphrase our old favorite, George Allen, “Welcome to Virginia, Ed Gillespie.”