U.S. Senator Makes City Stop, About 75 Attend
Posted: May 31, 2014
By PRESTON KNIGHT
HARRISONBURG — U.S. Sen. Mark Warner didn’t get off to the best start for his job interview in the city on Friday: He ran late.
But for the next hour, he laid out his argument for why voters should “rehire” him to office for another six years in a message that touched on bipartisanship, student loan debt, job growth, education and more.
“In America, everybody ought to get a fair shot,” said Warner, a Democrat who kicked off his re-election campaign for a second term in office this week. “What I worry about increasingly is whether our kids or grandkids are going to have that same kind of fair shot [I had growing up].”
The Harrisonburg Democratic Committee hosted the former governor Friday afternoon at Matchbox Realty downtown. The event was the seventh stop on Warner’s “Working Together” tour and attracted about 75 people.
The senator said his five-plus years in the Senate have been a challenge because he’s found that there’s less desire to compromise, compared to his time as governor of Virginia from 2002 to 2006.
Democrats and Republicans must admit “neither political party has a monopoly on truth or patriotism,” he said, and arguing only turns off “rational” people.
Warner won’t introduce major legislation without a Republican co-sponsor, he said. For example, the Know Before You Go Act is a bill he’s teamed with Republican Marco Rubio of Florida on. It ensures more information is provided to prospective college students, such as their employment chances for their field of study upon graduating.
That is one measure he hopes will help solve what he calls the next financial crisis: student debt. Refinancing of student loans should also be available and employers should be given the option to help pay off the debt for employees, Warner said.
“In America, you shouldn’t have to go broke if you want to go to college,” he said.
People in their 20s and 30s cannot afford to buy houses and start their own companies because of student debt, Warner said. That harms job growth, he said.
To help startups, Warner suggests reforming the tax code to encourage companies to come to the United States and pushes for regulations to be established for crowdfunding, which will allow individuals to invest money in startups over the Internet.
On K-12 education, No Child Left Behind — the federal legislation meant to measure student progress largely through standardized testing and other benchmarks — should be reformed or eliminated to put less emphasis on “rote memorization,” he said. Warner favors making computer coding a mandatory class in high school, calling it a “21st century language.”
Reforms to major legislation are an acceptable practice because Congress “never gets it right the first time entirely,” he said. Warner uses that argument to defend his stance on the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, which Republicans have repeatedly tried to repeal and, in Virginia, pin any problems associated with it to the senator for approving it.
Warner said Congress should take the positives from the act and improve them, such as offering a cheaper option, especially for younger people, and setting mandates on businesses that employ 100 or fewer people, not 50.