Thursday, September 06, 2018

From the Archives: Virginia Senator Mark Warner discusses budget issues, independent voters

Virginia Senator Mark Warner discusses budget issues, independent voters
September 6, 2012
3:06 PM MST

As he has done almost every year since he first ran for elective office in 1996, Virginia Senator Mark Warner (D-Alexandria) marched in the annual Buena Vista Labor Day parade and spoke to a gathering of local citizens and political activists from around the state.

In an interview with the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner, Warner looked forward to what Congress is likely to do between its return from its summer recess next week and Election Day in November.

The top agenda item, he said, will be to “continue the funding of the federal government,” adding that “the Republican-Democratic leadership have agreed on a plan on that.”

‘Comprehensive debt-reduction’

Senator Mark Warner Buena Vista Rick Sincere 2012
His own priority is to “go ahead and give the confidence that the economy’s looking for” by taking on sequestration and “the comprehensive debt-reduction plan.”

That would require two stages, Warner said, but “chances are we won’t [do it] because both national campaigns in the last sixty days before the election probably can’t show any level of compromise that’s going to be needed.”

Warner said he hopes that Congress “will have a bipartisan plan to put on the desk either of Mr. Obama or Mr. Romney after the election,” noting that he personally favors the re-election of President Obama.

“Whoever is elected,” he said, “we’re going to have to work with that individual to get this problem fixed.”

Asked whether the failure of Congress to pass a budget over the past three years has had an effect on business confidence and the economic recovery, Warner replied that “we’ve had this debate before.”

‘Political document’

Senator Mark Warner Buena Vista Labor Day 2012 Rick Sincere
There is “a budget in place,” he said emphatically. “It was part of the Budget Control Act that passed last year and this year. This will also set the appropriations level for the coming year.”

What Congress has not provided, he said, “is a long-term plan but frankly,” he pointed out, “the federal budget document is a political document. It doesn’t have the force of law.”

This contrasts, Warner explained, with his experience as a business executive and as a governor, when “we had budgets we had to meet” or face adverse consequences.

“What we need is a real plan with consequences,” he continued, “so that Congress doesn’t try to put a plan in place and then, when they care to, continue to spend or create new initiatives without any responsibility.”

The bipartisan coalition of six senators known as the Gang of Six, which included Warner, had proposed “budget control restrictions that would make sure that budgets that were adopted couldn’t be breached in the dark of night.”

‘Folks were mad’

Warner also commented on what former Governor Tim Kaine, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate from Virginia this year, could do to attract the votes of those who cast ballots for neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney in the presidential race.

“My sense is that 2010 was a year where folks were mad and a lot of folks got to Congress and expressed that anger by just saying no to everything,” he said.

“That didn’t move the country forward,” he explained, adding: “As a matter of fact, we’re in a deeper hole.”

The 2012 election will be different from the 2010 election, Warner predicted.

“My sense is that what people are looking for now, more than party labels, or even ideological labels, are [candidates] who can actually get stuff fixed and,” he concluded, “I think at the end of the day that’s been part of Tim Kaine’s record.”