Mark Warner discusses national debt

"Up to Us" campaign brings senators from Hill to University, promotes awareness


Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., spoke to about 500 students, faculty and community members about the national debt Monday in Newcomb Ballroom as the highlight of nearly 20 events and efforts organized by the University “Up to Us” campaign.

“Up to Us” is a nationwide competition between various college campuses that promotes student awareness of the rising national debt and student engagement with economic issues as the deadline for sequestration approaches.

“[We’re] bringing the conversation from the Hill to U.Va.,” said fourth-year College student Ryan Singel, a campaign organizer, when introducing the Senator.

Warner lauded campaign members for discussing this fairly unpopular topic with University peers. “[The national debt] is the most important issue we face in our nation,” Warner said. “If we don’t fix it, guess who pays the debt? You guys.”

He also discussed his efforts to reach a bipartisan consensus on fiscal reform while in the Senate. “We cannot simply cut and tax our way out of this problem,” Warner said. “We need to have a growth agenda.”

The Office of Management and Budget reports the country has run a deficit for 58 of the past 63 years, which Warner said is the fault of both parties. The $16.5 trillion national debt cannot be solved in the next 10 years, he said. He suggested reducing the deficit by $4 trillion in that time frame was more realistic. “We just have to show the markets and the world that we’re going to recognize that this is a real problem,” he said.

Warner said after his presentation he hoped awareness of the national debt would remain high.

“This is not a self-correcting problem, and what my hope and prayer is that these students, the folks who are listening today, will let their members of Congress hear [their opinions],” Warner said. “Too often all we hear is from folks on both ends of the extreme. This is too important just to leave to the politicians [and] the interest groups in Washington.”

Warner said despite the high-flown rhetoric, he was confident the economic crisis was solvable.

“I think our economy is poised for a dramatic recovery,” he said. He added that the federal government had already proposed one-third of the necessary cuts for his $4 trillion plan.

In closing, Sen. Warner quoted Winston Churchill: “You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing — after they’ve tried everything else.” After a pause he added, “Well, we’ve tried everything else. Now it’s time to do the right thing.”

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