Warner To Push For A Debt Reduction Surcharge Plan

Published 2:40 pm Tuesday, April 9, 2013

FARMVILLE – United States Senator Mark Warner is preparing to declare, wage and win the war against the nation's $16.5 trillion debt.

“Why couldn't we do something like a debt reduction surcharge that would apply to everybody?” he asked Prince Edward County leaders during a town hall meeting at the Moton Museum on Sunday morning, calling the deficit a graver threat to the nation than terrorism, North Korea, or any other source of danger.

Warner said he was going to push for the creation of such a surcharge, as low as one-quarter of one percent for those making $40,000 or $50,000, rising to two percent “for people like me.”

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The senator said the annual surcharge for someone making $50,000 a year would be “about $69…

“…And all the money would go into a separate debt reduction account. A separate account not used for anything else,” he said, the morning sun shining into the civil rights museum, “other than to start paying down the debt…and paying off this bill.”

The plan, he believes, would not only address the deficit but also unite the country, rather than allow the debate to continue as a partisan battle with overtones of class conflict.

“It would turn the whole debate away from this kind of Us and Them populism into 'This Is A National Cause.' This would be the 21st Century version of the war bond,” he said. “We say every American helped create (the deficit) and every American's going to pay a little bit. Those who can pay more will pay a little bit more, but we're going to use this to make sure (the deficit is overcome)…

“…At least you'd know we're all chipping in,” said the former governor.

And if the plan achieves its goal after 10 or 15 years then it would be abolished, he pointed out.

Right now, he said, the debt reduction problem finds the same four or five people sitting in a room in Washington, D.C. debating the same points, making the same arguments that have been made since June of 2011. “We need some new ideas in this debate,” the senator said.

Warner decried the highly partisan nature of Congress, saying that both parties seem to try and keep their own members from interacting with and getting to know members of the other party.

And that plays havoc with finding a bipartisan solution, the senator adding that whatever plan is finally adopted will not be either a Democratic or Republican plan but will be, out of necessity, a bipartisan plan.

Some day.

Warner is hoping to speed that day's arrival.

There are members of both parties who resist the partisan party isolationism and the senator said he is sensing progress, like spring, may be in the air.

Warner has played a lead role in trying to create bipartisan momentum, creating what became known as The Gang Of Six, which is actually 45 senators, Republicans and Democrats.

He wryly noted, “Only in Washington when you're trying to get Democrats and Republicans to work together can you be called a gang member. But I've been working on this issue.”

Simply sharing a meal on a regular basis changes the political climate.

When you break bread with somebody and talk about their family, Warner reasoned, it's harder to attack them the next day.

And both parties are responsible for the national debt, and it is important to acknowledge that truth, he said, in order to facilitate the forging of an honest, bipartisan solution.

Over the last 75 years, the nation has run deficits in 70 of those years, the senator pointed out. And both parties have been in power on and off, over and over again during those seven-plus decades.

The national debt is not Obama's fault or Bush's fault, he continued, but our shared national responsibility.

Warner has faith in the American people and believes they would be receptive to his debt reduction proposal, and other new ideas, to move the nation forward on the deficit, on Medicare and Social Security.

But he has days when pessimism stalks him home from the halls of Congress.

“When I get the most discouraged I always remember this wonderful quote from Winston Churchill,” he said, recalling what the British Prime Minister famously said in the dark, early days of World War II, London bombed and uncertainty surrounding the intentions of the US to help fight Germany.

Churchill told the British people, Warner said, “You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing-after they've tried everything else.'”

Virginia's senior United States Senator is hopeful the right thing is just around the corner.