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Mark Warner Panders to Wealthy, Supports Bush Tax Cuts

by Pamela Leavey

Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner was in Iowa yesterday pandering to the wealthy and defending the Bush tax cuts. Warner said at an event in Iowa with the Greater Des Moines Partnership in Des Moines, that Democrats have “taken the wrong approach in arguing against tax cuts enacted under President Bush,” and he singled out former “Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry’s campaign as a reason the message did not resonate in 2004.” EXCUSE ME?

Warner told members of the Greater Des Moines Partnership that “in order to appeal to more voters, the party ought to avoid alienating wealthier Americans.”

I think the Kerry campaign missed something,” Warner, who is weighing a 2008 presidential campaign, told about 50 local business leaders.

“Even though the Bush tax cuts only applied to the top 2 percent of Americans, what I think the Kerry campaign missed was that the other 98 percent of Americans still aspired to get to the point in their life where they could qualify for the tax cuts.”

Where is the logic in this? By and large Democrats across the board opposed the Bush tax cuts and here comes Mark Warner telling us all that we’re wrong. Warner misses the point that a large percentage of the other 98 percent of Americans are aspiring just to make damn ends meet and the last thing they are thinking about is qualifying for that 2 percent pie in the sky bracket that the majority of the American public will NEVER qualify for.

What this sounds like to me is Mark Warner worrying about protecting self-serving interest, his tax cut as a millionaire. Did Warner pay attention during the ’04 campaign when Kerry talked about the fact that he personally would rather see working americans get much needed health care coverage, than receive another tax cut. And Kerry isn’t the only Democrat who speaks to the Democratic party from the gut and understands that the needs of the masses are for more important than the avaricious goals of the few — I’m talking Bill Clinton, John Edwards and ted kennedy to name a few, all who say they don’t need another tax cut at the cost of Americans going with out health care.

While most Democrats are fighting to end poverty, raise the minimum wage, secure healthcare for all, Mark Warner is pimping to the rich.

Warner said yesterday that “wealthier Americans may be willing to support what would essentially be an income-tax increase, but only if it is portrayed as part of a fiscal strategy that includes trimming government waste and curbing spending.

During the ’04 campaign, John Kerry called for repealing the rate cuts on the top two income brackets. Yesterday, Kerry spokesman David Wade characterized the same idea as a generational responsibility to Americans — something John Kerry spoke about in his speech yesterday at Pepperdine University.

“Senator Kerry believes that most Americans understand that leaving the tab for the next generation is unconscionable and investing in opportunity is good for all of us,” David Wade said.

Mark Warner showed himself yesterday as incredibly out of touch with the values of the Democratic Party. Rather than diss John Kerry, Warner could take a few lessons from him. The contrast between Mark Warner pandering to the wealthy yesterday and John Kerry speaking from the heart about the poor, is astounding. While Warner was saying in a sense “save the tax cuts,” Kerry told the audience at Pepperdine that the “first and perhaps most obvious common challenge,” for all of us, “is to take practical steps to address global issues of poverty, disease, and despair.”

The cares of the poor and the troubled should be the focus of all our work. Today extreme poverty shackles one sixth of the globe’s population, one-fifth lack access to safe drinking water. Here in America twenty one percent of our children live in poverty. Eleven million under 21 don’t have health insurance. Thirty thousand children worldwide perish each day because of hunger and disease attributable to poverty.

Those points are obviously points that Mark Warner does not get.

Ezra Klein says “Color me unconvinced.”

Not only is Warner philosophically wrong here — I don’t know what sort of Democrat believes it’s supportable public policy to raid the federal treasury to enrich the wealthy — he’s not even backed up by the polling data. Support for Bush’s tax cuts has, and always has, been low. they’ve never been as popular as one might expect. Moreover, they’ve become less popular as time passed. In 2000, exit polls shows that voters naming “taxes” as their top issue went for Bush 80%-17% — it was by far his biggest advantage on any issue. In 2004, a number of those hardcore partisans were surely naming terrorism, but nevertheless, those obsessing over “taxes” were now voting a rather different ballot, favoring Bush by a mere 57%-43%, a 49% swing in Kerry’s favor.

9 Responses to “Mark Warner Panders to Wealthy, Supports Bush Tax Cuts”

  1. The key difference between John Kerry and Mark Warner is that Mark Warner has actually implemented a progressive budget. In Virginia he balanced the budget, increased revenue, and dramatically increased investment in health care, education, enviornmental protection and infrastructure.
    He sold this plan by emphasizing shared sacrifice and reassuring the business community and moderate Republicans that they would not be bearing the brunt alone. You cite this quote from the Register story:

    “wealthier Americans may be willing to support what would essentially be an income-tax increase, but only if it is portrayed as part of a fiscal strategy that includes trimming government waste and curbing spending.

    But you don’t really seem to have digested its meaning.
    As the Hotline blog said:

    He took that approach in Virginia, although the state legislature wouldn’t submit to an increase in income tax rates. Instead, a coalition of Republicans and Democrats gave Warner a slight tick up in the sales tax and a boost in the cigarette tax. It raised about $1 billion in revenue. The acquiescence of Republicans and voters in one of the most distinctly anti-tax states in the union suggests to some analysts that voters nationally are more willing to pay more if they can taste how the increased revenue will help them educate their children or drive customers to their businesses.

    He’s not pandering to the wealthy, he’s reaching out to a potentially new Democratic constituency. One that’s ripe for conversion given Bush’s malfeasance. Here’s more from the AP:

    “It’s hard for me to find a business person today and look them in the eye and describe how this administration in Washington is fiscally conservative, or how this administration in Washington can put together a reasonable balance sheet for our country,” Warner said.

    Warner met over breakfast with leaders of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, a coalition of key business leaders that leans Republican but has occasionally been swayed by Democrats. He argued that an ideologically driven agenda in Washington doesn’t make sense from a bottom-line perspective.

    “I think this community understands we’re in a knowledge-based economy, but we’ve got a crowd in Washington that rejects stem cell research, rejects global warming,” said Warner. “That doesn’t move our country forward.”

    There’s also this quote which didn’t make it into the papers but was recorded by my fellow Forward Together staffer Lars Anderson:

    With regards to the Bush tax cuts, in a time of war, to give the most successful in our country a tax break is not morally right and not economically right.”

    There’s also this quote from the password protected area of the Hotline:

    what I think also is missing, what we did in Virginia, was we raised some taxes, and lowered others. But we tried to build the case that we tried to build a sense of fairness that everyone was going to do a little bit. Heck, we even had seniors agree to getting rid of some of the seniors’ tax breaks. Does it really make sense that wealthy seniors get a huge tax break while moderate income seniors can’t even afford to get themselves into long term care because our Medicaid system is going to fall apart? If you’re going to take on the issue of finance reform, there’s got to be a sense of fairness. It’s got to be a sense of everyone’s paying. It’s got to have a sense that everyone’s doing their share. That means business, that means individuals. We have to look at the spending side as well. The notion that you’re going to ask another group of Americans to sacrifice and not ask us to sacrifice….

  2. Texas Nate

    Thanks for sharing. The key difference between Kerry and Warner is decades of experience and leadership on Kerry’s part, as opposed to a few years on Warner’s part.

    Couple that with the fact that Kerry, while Clinton was president, worked to “balanced the budget” and in the years he has been Ranking Member on the Senate Committee for Small Business and Entrepreneurship he has fought for and successfully implemented legislation that helps small businesses ACROSS THE COUNTRY “increase revenue” and obtan much needed funding.

    Kerry was ranked the #1 environmentalist in the Senate in ’04. He’s championed environmental causes since the 70’s, organized the first Earth Day in MA during the 70’s and has successfully fought to protect ANWR over and over again.

    As the Ranking Member on the Senate Committee for Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Kerry has been addressing the business community for years and is recognized as a leader and a friend to small business. Warner has a lot of catching up to do…

    I stand by my post, Warner was pimping to the wealthy and it seems that I’m not the only liberal blogger that gets that.

  3. Warner is one of those 2%. He is only worried about his own tax cut. I would like to know how he would correct the mongo huge deficit that the current administration is piling up?

  4. If Warner wants to talk about shared sacrifice, that’s one thing. The State of Va. was about to lose its AAA bond rating on Wall St. because of the awful mess Warner’s GOP predecessor (Jim Gilmore) had left.
    So while Warner did use considerable skill in getting tax increases passed, he had the support of a Va. business community (paticularly in the socially liberal Northern part of Va.) that understood that Va. better come up with some cash and quick or Va. would no longer be viewed as favorable an investment area as it had been in the 1990s.

    If Warner were pitching a tax fairness plan, fine. But citing the Bush tax cuts as anything but fiscally irresponsible and Robin Hood in reverse is not only politically tone deaf, it’s also policy tone deaf as well.

  5. Looks like pimping to me. It also shows a man that is taking a cheap shot at someone that stands to be the next president. With his own hopes of doing the same, this comes off as a pre-emptive strike and a very cheap one at that, to Sen. Kerry. Looks like an outreach to those republican lites and a sellout to the dem party to me. Seems like he is getting all Joed up!

  6. I have more on this at Liberal Values, stressing the differences between Kerry and Warner.

    Even though it overlaps with Pamela’s post, I’ll cross post it here. Anybody really object if we have overlapping posts defending Kerry?

  7. You have to be able to add.
    Financing is a big question if we are going to have some kind of health care for all. Repealing the Bush tax cuts for 200k and above makes sense. Since the longer we wait, the more costly health care gets maybe go down to 150k.
    If Warner wants to pimp for the rich at the expense of the middle class he won’t get far.
    He did a good job in Virginia and showed real pragmatism to get the budget and finances squared away. I guess he decided to go a different way in his bid for the candidacy.

  8. We still come back to the reality that state financing is different than Federal. There is no national sales tax – and somehow I don’t think there ever will be.

    Warner’s experience is didly to transfer into #44 and be able to function in the heat.

    Just what we need, another delusional fool in the WH.

  9. Ron

    Considering Kerry was talking Liberal Values yesterday, and about poverty which is a BIG Liberal Value, I’m surprised you missed convering that in your post.