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Warner answers political queries at RCC

On September 5, United States senator Mark Warner gave a short talk at Rappahannock Community College’s Warsaw Campus. His principal topic was the federal budget; he described his stance on the issue, and then fielded a number of thoughtful questions on that and other subjects (including “Obamacare,” sequestration, the depletion of the Potomac Aquifer, and the death penalty).

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For 70 out of the last 75 years, Warner stated, the United States has had an annual budget deficit, and is now over $17 trillion in debt. “Whose fault is that?” he asked rhetorically, but stressed that neither Democrats nor Republicans are solely responsible for the situation. A budget surplus occurs when taxes amount to 19.5 to 21 percent of the economy. At present, taxes stand at 17 percent, while spending is up to 24 percent.

“In order to get out of the hole,” said Warner, “we need more revenue, and we need to cut spending. How did it get so bad?” He cited tax cuts of $4.5 trillion over the last ten years, as well as five factors that have boosted spending over the same period. These are national defense; homeland security; two wars fought on credit (President Nixon, he mentioned, paid for the war in Viet Nam without adding to the deficit by setting up a tax surcharge dedicated to that purpose); Medicare Part D, covering prescription drugs; and the fact that Americans are simply living longer. At one time, out of every 16 workers who contributed to the Social Security program from their paychecks, only one lived long enough to take advantage of it. Now one person out of every three lives to retire and draw Social Security. It is a testimony to the effectiveness of modern health care, but it does come with a price tag.

As Warner said: “Medicare and Social Security are the two best programs the federal government has ever come up with. But they have to be paid for.” The changes he advocates are not drastic. He would apply a decrease, not to the amount of a Social Security check, but to the percentage by which it increases from year to year, and would raise the age at which benefits start to 68 or 69. In addition, he favors establishing a special fund solely dedicated to reducing the national debt. But, he emphasized, these changes must start now. “If we leave it for our kids and grandkids to deal with, it will be much worse.”

“Do you want rational government?” asked Warner. “Then don’t vote for people that sign pledges. Turn off the news. And support the politicians that go for less spending—reinforce good behavior regardless of party affiliations.” He added, “The debt is a national security issue, and the solution is neither Democratic nor Republican. We need to stop being partisan.”

One Response to “Warner answers political queries at RCC”

  1. I support most of what was said, but he says “we need to stop being so partisan” – politicians will not stop being partisan, and the media will not stop being partisan, until we get big money out of politics.

    Overturning this is a good way to start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens_United_v._Federal_Election_Commission

    Just my humble opinion ^_^

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