Mark Warner: Deficit Commission Proposals are “solid recommendations”


    Sen. Mark Warner has issued a statement on the work of the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.

    You hear a lot of talk in this town about deficit reduction. With this bipartisan framework, it’s time to put up or shut up.

    I have not completely reviewed the commission proposals yet, and I’m sure I might have made some different choices. But these appear to be solid recommendations that will help steer our nation back toward a responsible fiscal path.

    I hope these proposals receive broad bipartisan support among commission members and will be evaluated with an open mind by my colleagues.

    Many of these choices are tough, but our nation’s fiscal crisis is real, and as the ongoing crisis in Europe shows, we cannot ignore it simply because it is inconvenient.

    We must not allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good.

    While I agree with Sen. Warner that we need to tackle the long-term, structural deficit and debt issues, that the choices are all “tough” but nonetheless have to be made, I’m not sure what he means exactly by “the perfect” being “the enemy of the good” in this context. The fact is, nothing in public policy is ever “perfect,” we’re always talking about “the good”  – or, in  many case, the “less bad” – and compromise when it comes to the “making of sausage”/legislation.  In this case, a major issue is whether we weight the deficit reduction package more in the direction of spending cuts than revenue increases, and if so, how we cut spending (entitlements? defense? “discretionary?” in a more or less progressive direction?). These are the tough questions we pay Senators like Mark Warner the “big bucks” (well, not really) to figure out. From this progressive’s perspective, I definitely don’t want to see the U.S. budget balanced on the backs of poor people and the middle class, although clearly everyone’s going to have to “give” somewhat if we’re going to solve this problem. Still, we have to start with getting rid of ALL the Bush tax cuts, as those add $4 trillion – that’s TRILLION! – to the debt over the next 10 years. To date, I haven’t heard Mark Warner agree to this, unless his positive review of the deficit commission’s work is indication that he has now changed his position. I sure hope so!

    P.S. On a related note, Sen. Webb has called for elimination of “costly ethanol subsidies and tariffs.” I couldn’t agree more, even though getting rid of subsidies would only reduce the deficit by “31 billion over the next five years.” As Webb points out, ethanol subsidies “have led to steep increases in the price of corn and other sources of feed, which have negatively affected beef cattle, dairy and poultry producers and driven up the cost to consumers of commodities like milk and eggs.” They’re also an environmental disaster and do nothing to reduce our “oil addiction.” Bad policy any way you look at it, pretty much.