Friday, November 4, 2005

VA Governor Mark Warner on the Democrats, the deficit, and federal budget cuts

"I think the Democrats in this country are the minority party in this country. I think we not only have to invigorate more folks to get registered in part of the grand Democratic family, but I think we need to go get some other folks who maybe haven't voted Democrat in a long time or maybe never voted Democrat, and urge them to take a fresh look.

"And the way you take a fresh look is you've got to have sensible policies about our deficit. You've got to have restoration of America's stature in the world. You've got to grapple with a health care crisis that is getting increasingly complex, as I look at my own parents and with an aging society.

"And we've got to end up recognizing in a global world, if we don't have kind of a post-Sputnik type refocus on creating intellectual capital in this country, in this world, and I believe American business and American workers can compete against anybody, but we've got to do it smarter, more entrepreneurial and more innovatively.

"These are the kind of issues that I'm much more interested in than the—you know, some of the social hot button issues that too often dominate the debate.

"LAMB: Now you've shut a lot of your agencies down in Virginia and you eliminated 5,000 jobs, that almost never happens on a federal level. Can you do that on a federal level?

"WARNER: You've got to. I mean, one of the things the Democrats always do when we just talk about fiscal policy is we always go to the revenue side first. I mean, I would not have been successful looking at the revenue and tax reform unless first I had shown that I was willing to cut and was willing to reform.

"And, again, I think the country is—the country is ready to have an honest debate about what it expects from government and what it is going to pay.

"LAMB: But could you deal with earmark environment that you have here where there are 16,000 earmarks?

"WARNER: Listen, you've got to be willing to shake things up. I mean, I remember back in Virginia, we went all through all these cuts. What finally got everybody's attention was—and we had to cut almost every state agency by average 20 percent with the exception K-12 and Medicaid, health care for the poor and our basic commitment to education.

"But I shut down the Departments of Motor Vehicle one day a week. I got skewered, everybody was—you know, Democrats, Republicans, Warner, this was horrible. But in my mind, you know, if we're going to be fair on cuts, everybody has got to take a little hit.

"And it drove home the point as well that at the end of the day, this was a real crisis. And that sometimes has been absent from the debate in Washington. Now you've got the luxury of the printing press in Washington because you can keep printing that money and you don't have to balance your books.

"But it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure with an aging society, with growing entitlement programs, with, you know, almost a Faustian deal that we've created with China with it buying most of our debt, that we do not only ourselves but more importantly our kids an enormous disservice unless we can grapple with this in a meaningful way."

C-SPAN Q&A Interview: Full Transcript, Video, Background

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