Sen. Warner courts businesswomen in Leesburg
Twice in remarks leading up to the introduction of Virginia's senior senator who was in Leesburg to speak with Northern Virginia businesswomen, hosts of the event referred to Warner as a future president.
Warner swiftly deflected the half-joking calls for a presidential race.
“This is an intelligent group, well-informed,” Warner said in his warm-up to the audience. “… Leesburg, Loudoun County, kind of the intellectual pinnacle spot of Virginia.”
A former governor of Virginia elected to the Senate in 2008, Warner spoke on the issue he's “obsessed” with, the federal debt and deficit, as well as efforts to expand business opportunities to women through crowdfunding, raising capital for new start-ups through the Internet, and his desire to see the state expand Medicaid coverage through the new federal healthcare law.
Warner said women specifically, who often have a more difficult time than men raising funds and capital for new businesses, could benefit from crowdfunding, which is currently being examined by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“It is harder to raise money and raise capital if you are a woman entrepreneur or a minority entrepreneur than if you're a white guy,” Warner said to a concurring crowd.
One female audience member quickly chided, “we kind of knew that.”
“[Crowdfunding] could open up a whole universe of people who might be interested in your passion and vision in a way that's unprecedented,” Warner said.
The senator began his private career as a businessman and entrepreneur who accumulated millions through the technology field and venture capital.
On sequestration, the federal across-the-board budget cuts set to take effect March 1, Warner said Republicans and Democrats have to come together to produce a smarter plan. He supports completely wiping sequestration off the books and coming back with a comprehensive proposal considering targeted cuts and specific revenue increases.
“Defense is going to get cut, but do it in a smarter way,” Warner said. “But if we don't get it done in the next two weeks… there's a stupid way and a less stupid way to do these things. Let's at least do the less stupid way.
“They set [the current plan in budget cuts] up on purpose to be the stupidest possible.”
Phasing up the age for Social Security, other restructuring of entitlements and investments in infrastructure all need to be part of a grand bargain on the budget, Warner said. Just one approach – raising revenue or cutting spending – isn't going to turn it around.
Warner visited the Northern Virginia Technology Council in Reston earlier Friday with freshman Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.).
Following the Leesburg event, Warner sat down for an interview with the Times-Mirror, where he critiqued members of both parties who take absolutist stances and are afraid of telling constituents the tough truth.
“I think people are tired of politicians just telling them what they want to hear,” Warner said.
Warner serves as one of three Democrats in the bipartisan Senate Gang of Six working on solutions for the federal deficit, which currently sits at nearly $17 trillion. Warner said he'd be comfortable with cutting around $5 trillion off the deficit in the next decade.
As he has done often, Warner blamed both parties for Congress' failure to find compromise and solutions on dealing with the debt.
Despite the country's struggles, however, Warner said America is still the strongest nation in the world, and he wouldn't trade places with any other global superpowers.
“Our economy is so poised to take off,” Warner said before repeating a Winston Churchill quote. “You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing … after they've tried everything else.”
Clarification: This story has been updated to read that Sen. Mark Warner would like the federal government to reduce the federal deficit by $5 trillion over the next decade, not have the deficit amounting $5 trillion in 10 years.
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