Following the actions of Mark Warner, the moderate Democrat from Virginia really makes me wish people like him would just go independent. The kind of pragmatism he exemplifies makes me think the Democrats don't deserve people like him.
It really is even more unforgivable, and very telling, that neither party put a moderate like Warner on the deficit supercommittee. Just as telling as them not putting anyone from the Gang of Six on there, or anyone on the Deficit Commission that actually voted for the compromise deal that commission came up with.
There is so much from this Bloomberg interview with Warner that I wish I was hearing from other major politicians. Right at the outset he starts his pitch by recognizing that 87 percent of the American people are disgusted with Washington, himself included.
The vast majority of politicians would be utter hypocrites for trying to identify with that 87 percent, but he's one of the few that has a track record of putting skin in the game to forge real, balanced compromise - especially in his work with the Gang of Six.
He goes on to mention the kinds of work projects that the government should have had more of in the original stimulus, specifically mentioning putting unemployed people to work making government buildings more energy efficient. While the Democrats try to pretend that Obama's stimulus wasn't big enough, they gloss over the fact that the vast majority of the money went to projects with no proven stimulative effects, to connected political allies and to plug state budgets.
Had it been more focused on things like an energy efficiency program that made sense, by now government buildings all over the country would be saving millions and millions each month on energy bills, and we'd have a lot more people employed. As he said, we're already paying these people unemployment. Why not put them to work instead? The up front cost is a bit more, but the economic and budgetary benefits are far larger.
But it was a comment near the end of the interview that really hit home. He noted that, even if the supercommittee cuts the $1.5 trillion is has been tasked to cut, it just plain isn't enough, and that we need to lower long term entitlement spending and get some work done on tax reform to bring in more revenue. He sort of dodged the question as to whether he agrees with Fiscal Commission Co-Chair Alan Simpson in saying that without people like Warner in the supercommittee, it really doesn't have a chance to accomplish much (which I think is probably right), before saying what I wish was being shouted from the proverbial rooftops...
"We’re not going to solve the problem overnight, but, you know, a 10-year plan to reduce $4 trillion in debt should not be the kind of ultimate heavy lift. You know, if we don’t step up and do that, then I don’t think we are doing our country a service."
It's absolutely absurd that our government can't peel off $4 trillion off our giant deficit over ten years. It's an embarrassment. European countries are going through the same recession we are, and their debt to GDP ratios are going down because they see the very basic idea that if you're going to spend money, you should have to tax about the same amount.
Solomon Kleinsmith is a former nonprofit worker, serial social entrepreneur and strident centrist independent blogger from Omaha, Nebraska. His website, Rise of the Center, is the fastest growing blog targeting centrist independents and moderates.