Democratic Senator Issued Shocking Statements About 1%ers Protecting Their Wealth at Oligarch Confab
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) earlier this month urged the business class to band together and influence politics because their collective success means they “have an outsized ability to affect what happens in Washington.”
“If you don’t think the frustration of Americans with our overall system—not just our political system, but our business system, our tax code—is at the boiling point, then Katie, bar the door!” Warner said. “The walls that are gonna have to be built, may not be at borders, they may be around neighborhoods the way they are in many Third World countries around the world.”
Speaking on a panel at the Milken Institute’s 2016 Global Conference, Warner—who, as a member of the bipartisan Gang of Six, dedicated a significant amount of his time advocating for a deficit-reduction plan that cut the corporate tax rate and curbed entitlement—bemoaned the failure of the “Grand Bargain,” a controversial plan that would have cut spending for Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.
“We’d have gotten 70 votes if the establishments on both sides had not shot down our effort,” Warner said.
Warner said he blames the failure on the business class, who “all kind of moan about Washington” but don’t do anything about it. “I get a little tired of the business community bitching about Washington but then never wanting to get their hands dirty,” Warner added.
Warner praised Maya MacGuineas, a policy analyst also speaking at the Milken Institute, for her work with the Fix the Debt campaign, a controversial group backed by major corporations with interests in the national debt. As the Nation points out, Fix the Debt was launched by Nixon's former commerce secretary, billionaire Pete Peterson, at the height of the national conversation about the "fiscal cliff," and used by the fiscal conservative to push an austerity agenda with the help of prominent CEOs and spokespeople. The editors of the Nation write:
“Quite a few of those CEOs head firms that pay a negative tax rate, like Honeywell, GE, Boeing and Verizon. And as the Public Accountability Initiative notes, many lobby to preserve costly tax breaks for the wealthy (including the “carried interest” tax loophole that made Peterson a rich man) and to prevent a tax on Wall Street speculation. Fix the Debt–tied firms are even pushing for a “territorial tax system” that will increase the debt by $1 trillion over ten years and encourage the offshoring of American jobs. Why would supposed debt slayers favor this boondoggle? Because, IPS calculates, at least sixty-three Fix the Debt firms would divvy up a $134 billion windfall.”
Warner remembers Fix the Debt a little differently, telling attendees that he and his comrades “put together an effort that Maya led which was the first time I’ve seen the business community … where we raised some resources so we could, in a bipartisan way support members who were willing to say we need entitlement reform, we need tax reform that generates revenue.”
“It was probably 1/100th of the business community [that] participated,” he added.
Mark Weinberger, CEO of Ernst & Young, agreed the business class should be more involved in our nation’s decision-making. “People think in Washington we’re so disassociated, we’re so aloof, we’re so unconnected to the general public,” Weinberger said. “Nothing could be further from the truth, quite frankly. And we want to do what they want us to do to get elected, in many cases.
[h/t to Zaid Jilani of the Intercept for seeing this story first]