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The last democrat
He fixed Virginia. Now he's Obama's last hope to fix the U.S. economy
He fixed Virginia.
Now the President should call on him to help fix the nation's sagging, indebted and recently downgraded U.S. economy.
U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (VA-D), leader of the much-maligned Senate bi-partisan "gang of six" may be Obama's last best hope for saving the economy and salvaging his fledging presidency.
And Warner [pictured below] knows it. The Commonwealth's former governor was chief executive of one of the nation's most complex states. During his tenure, Warner deftly worked across the aisle to get things done, navigating his agenda of fiscal responsibility through a highly partisan and divided government, which Republicans controlled by as much as a two to one majority for part of his term.
Negotiating across party lines, Warner closed the largest budget shortfall in Virginia's history – over $6 billion – by reducing spending by a whopping 20 percent. After two decades of successful years in private business, Warner gets it. He knows taxes have to be cut to spur the economy to create more jobs – which will ultimately increase revenue by bringing more taxpayers to the trough. And he knows you can't borrow your way to economic prosperity. Warner never operated his businesses – or his state – by going into debt. As Virginia governor, Warner railed relentlessly against accounting gimmicks and inflated revenue estimates. He championed a combination of reduced spending and tax incentives while reprioritizing investment spending to wipe out the state's red ink without devastating entitlements or mortgaging the state's infrastructure. In so doing, his combination of budget cutting and tax reform subsequently saved Virginia's AAA bond rating, which was on credit-watch by Moody's, another agency, when took the helm.
"Once you lose it, it may be a decade before you get it back," Warner said during his 2004 State of the State address to the Virginia General Assembly in January 2004, referring to his state's bond rating. But that was then and this is now. Warner helped Virginia keep its bond rating. Now he has to help the U.S. earn it back.
"We need to cut $4 trillion in federal government spending," Warner said, during an interview in his Senate office last week. "That is the only way to get our nation back on sound financial footing and satisfy the rating agencies." He says the stakes are too high for political gamesmanship and partisan politics as usual. "The world is waiting – and watching -- for us to show real leadership on budget [reform]" Warner said.
A proponent of the Simpson-Boles deficit reduction recommendations, Warner says he wants a Senate vote on his soon to be developed long range "gang of six" plan. "All I'm asking for is a vote," Warner urged. "Give us a chance to make our case."
The moderate southern Democrat says he wants to make an appeal to Congressional leaders, Virginia style. "We need to forge together a coalition to get $4 trillion in real dollar spending cuts," Warner said. "There is enough good will in the Senate, I believe, to get us there."
Considering the S&P U.S. credit rating downgrade that shook the country on Friday, Warner may now be his Party's – and the nations – only viable option to bridge the deficit gap now snuffing out the national economy.
"The United Kingdom has cut more spending than we have," Warner said. "I don't like being outdone by the Brits on anything; let alone managing our own government."