Where I agree with Mark Warner is that direct expenditures and tax expenditure (e.g., mortgage interest deductions, charitable deduction, ability to deduct healthcare) are “both spending by just different names.” Where I also agree with Warner is that defaulting on our debt, or even coming close to defaulting on our debt, would be a disaster (“if you spook the bond markets at this point…we could see double-digit interest rates…hiring’s going to come to an end…would be a disaster…to play politics with this issue is, in my mind, the height of irresponsibility”).
Where I disagree, fundamentally, with Mark Warner is that a compromise with Republicans should even consider continuing the foolish-then-even-more-foolish-now Bush tax cuts – the ones that played a huge role in turning Clinton’s surpluses into Bush’s deficits – at least for the wealthiest Americans. Those Bush tax cuts cost our country $400 billion a year, $4 trillion a decade, which means that, in and of itself, getting rid of those tax cuts would reach Warner’s goal of reducing the next decade’s deficits by $4 trillion. In other words, that one’s a no-brainer; ditch the Bush tax cuts, then proceed from there on addressing tax expenditures and other issues (personally, I’d look at means testing for Medicare, as I know lots of people who are upper-middle class or higher yet are receiving full benefits for decades, and it’s not affordable).
By the way, one thing that is NOT acceptable in this entire discussion? Slashing federal workers’ pensions, certainly not unless everyone else is forced to sacrifice as well. But to just pick on federal employees, to use them as scapegoats, is completely wrong, won’t even come close to making a dent in the deficit, and is simply bureaucrat-bashing for no good reason other than it gives the right wingnuts sadistic glee to do so. Sen. Warner: just say no to that!