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Warner: Look at Military's Pay, Health Care to Cut Spending

Alexandria resident and former governor spoke Friday with members of Alexandria Chamber of Commerce at United Way in Old Town.

Virginia Democrat Sen. Mark Warner fielded questions from members of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce Friday, taking on a wide range of subjects ranging from manufacturing and energy to sequestration.

Warner said on sequestration, or deep congressionally mandated cuts to the nation’s budget, that if these cuts happen, Virginia could suffer greatly.

“Sequestration is not the right way. It’s a blunt instrument,” he said, speaking at United Way International headquarters in Old Town. “It will completely kill the military.” These cuts apply to both defense and non-defense spending.

He suggested – and said it’s not a popular idea – to look at the military’s health care plan and military pay as ways to cut spending.

The Alexandria resident and former governor said “if you turn on the TV,” it may seem like one political party or another is to blame for the (sequestration) situation, but, he said: “We all bear responsibility…It’s simple. We cut revenues and taxes and at the same time doubled defense spending and went to war twice.”

And he doesn’t see the country experiencing the boom in government contracting that it’s seen “over the last 10 years.”

He agreed with a member of the audience, saying the nation really doesn’t have an energy plan and said if “we wind back the clock,” President Obama might have been better off focusing on an energy plan rather than healthcare.

“We’ve lost our lead on alternative energies,” he said, but added that the administration critics focus on problems like solar panel maker Solyndra that declared bankruptcy shortly after receiving a $535 million loan guarantee from the Obama administration, rather than on the many similar companies that have performed well.

Warner discussed manufacturing and the economy, saying the nation needs to do a better job in-sourcing jobs and bringing them to rural areas. “If we can build [a factory] in China, we need to build it in rural Virginia.”

Warner, the founder of telecommunications firm Nextel, added that the country could use a national economic development plan.

“When Virginia is competing against Korea, we just can’t put the same package together,” but added that when Virginia competes with California “we can eat their lunch.”

Warner said he still believes the United States is home to the “best and the brightest,” but that it’s “crazy” that we educate some of the smartest people in the world only to send them back to their home countries.

He said the country would never have experienced the tech boom of the 1990s if the post-9/11 immigration policies were in place at that time.

He also said the nation needs to do a better job of attracting foreign tourists, saying if it takes 12 weeks to get a visa to enter the United States as a tourist, fewer people will have the incentive to visit.

Warner noted that every 1 percent of tourism increase to the United States equals 128,000 new jobs, adding that “investors tour before they invest.”

Tom Hanton September 17, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Before cutting military pay and benefits I strongly suggest the senator look at their pay and benefits, which we the voters, not they our servants determine how much they are worth. At 13% popularity rate I suspect a serious pay cut is in order for all of Congress.
Leslie Hagan September 18, 2012 at 08:59 PM
A newly enlisted soldier starts at $18,000 a year, is shipped off to wherever, and is expected to die for his country with bare lip service paid to his lost life and future. Officers in the military, many with graduate degrees, and all with incredible management skills earn at least 50% less than their civilian counterparts. Congressmen and Senators are notorious for wanting to cut military wages and benefits because many of the military in their states are citizens of other states so they think they can kick these people in the teeth, as Senator Warner did, and get away with it because these military cannot vote against them. He is right up there with W who didn't want to pay soldiers combat pay. If this is your real thought Senator, please spare us your obviously meaningless expression of support of our troops. Oh yes, why don't you start receiving all of your medical care at VA hospitals? Then you could see just how wonderful the military "benefits" are. I grew up as an Army brat with a father who was a West Point graduate with a masters degree in engineering who served his country through three wars for a pittance of what he could have earned in civilian life and no thanks for his 35+ years of service other than the right to be buried in Arlington. How very Republican of you, Senator.
Leslie Hagan September 18, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Correction - in lieu of "citizens of other states", I should have said "legal residents of other states". Because military personnel are moved around so frequently, it becomes increasingly tedious and time consuming to re-establish residency every 6 months or so, especially for such things as voting. To ease this problem, they may declare themselves residents of one state, no matter where in the US or abroad they actually live. They cast their vote and pay their taxes in that state.
jf September 24, 2012 at 05:39 AM
Secondary care is the health care services provided by medical specialists and other health professionals who generally do not have first contact with patients, for example, cardiologists, urologists and dermatologists. Thanks. Regards, http://www.hcg1234.com/ | hcg1234
fgdf September 25, 2012 at 01:21 PM
Health cuts are inevitable in any business when revenues decrease and expenditures increase, and this is true for health-care facilities such as hospitals, doctor offices and nursing homes. Thanks a lot. Regards, www.ipc-athletics.org/ | ipc-athletics.org

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