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Former Governor Mark Warner, who is seeking the seat of retiring Senator John Warner (no relation), believes that the House's failure to pass a financial rescue package, Monday, will have an impact that goes beyond Wall Street.
“It was an embarrassment yesterday,” said Warner, who had stopped by Centerfest on Saturday, during a follow-up phone interview, Tuesday.
Warner said that Monday's stock market plunge, which is impacting individual retirement accounts, is just the tip of the ice burg. He said that the credit crisis is already making it harder for people to get car loans. A deepening credit crisis could dry up businesses' line of credit and that will cost jobs. He called the failed vote “playing Russian roulette with people's financial lives.”
“I have a lot of problems with the bill, but Congress needs to get back to work and get a bill,” he said.
Warner said that Congress needs to get back to work on a bill this week. He believes that the Bush administration did not do a good job explaining the bill, but assessing blame must wait until later. Fixing the problem must be the first priority, he said.
The bill should protect taxpayers and provide transparency, Warner said, and should also provide relief for home owners in mortgage trouble. He would also like to see more regulatory oversight for financial markets and the bank deposit amount that FDIC guarantees raised from its current $100,000 to $200,000.
During his visit to Bedford, Warner called for a national competitive strategy to help America economically compete with countries like China and India. He also called for a comprehensive energy plan.
According to Warner, a comprehensive plan means avoiding an either or mentality — choosing between drilling and alternative energy.
“You've gotta be for both,” Warner said.
Warner said more offshore drilling is needed. He also believes that hybrid vehicles that could get 100 miles per gallon are possible.
Alternative energy will be a job producer.
“There are going to be more jobs created in the energy sector in the next 25 years than any other,” he said.
Warner has taken criticism for raising taxes while governor.
“The fact was we had our bond rating in jeopardy,” Warner said in the phone interview.
He also said that the state was passing on its responsibilities to localities by not paying its share of school costs. Warner said the Virginia's state government is supposed to pick up 55 percent of school costs.
He contrasts what Virginia's government did with what the House of Representatives did, Monday, on the financial bailout bill. He said Virginia took a bipartisan “we've gotta fix it” attitude.
“We didn't punt, we fixed it,” Warner said.
Warner, a Democrat, noted that both he and his opponent, Jim Gilmore, a Republican, have been a Virginia governor. Gilmore was Warner's immediate predecessor in that office.
“I'm more than happy to make this a referendum on who left Virginia a better place,” he said.
Warner said he inherited a state balance sheet that was broken. He said the state deficit was six to seven times higher than Gilmore claimed.
Why should you vote for Warner?
“I have a proven record of getting stuff done,” Warner replied to that question.
Warner said that it doesn't matter to him whether an idea has a D or an R attached to it and added that the best evidence of that is how he governed. Warner said that during his time as governor, Republicans had a two-to-one majority in the General Assembly, proof that he can work in a bipartisan manner.
He also pointed to his 20 years of experience in business prior to holding public office.
“It taught me to measure the bottom line,” he said.
Warner said that it's important to send somebody to Washington who can read a balance sheet.
He said that, if elected, he would like to form a group in the Senate that would be called “Bipartisan Radical Centrists.”
“We gotta have people go to Washington who can say 'no' to the political extremes of the left and the right,” he said.