With President Obama signing the debt ceiling compromise yesterday, Congressional leaders now have 10 days to appoint people to the bipartisan joint committee responsible for coming up with another $1.5 trillion in deficit reductions. With the decision regarding the appointments having to made relatively soon, Virginia’s Sen. Mark Warner has been actively lobbying for a spot on the commission.
As we‘re coming off of a tough negotiations that almost lead to a catastrophic default, Warner is using his credentials as a centrist as part of the reason why he wants to be on the committee. He told the Richmond Times Dispatch, for instance, that his “fear is that this could be made of a group that could be the more ideologically rigid in both parties, and [he’s] not sure that gets us to where we need to be."
Warner then went on the Fox News Channel to talk about the deal and some of the work that the new committee would have to do. He pointed out that he believes we need to take bold steps towards addressing entitlement and tax reforms -- something that would receive a significant amount of resistance from members of both parties. Perhaps showing a little lack in confidence that anything very productive will be accomplished by the committee, however, he said that “the fact that I’m willing to do that probably means that I’m not actually going to get on the committee.”
During his lobbying efforts, Warner has also pointed to his experience as a member of the “Gang of 6” and claims this helps to illustrate how he’s been intimately “working on this issue for the last year.” Some pundits have also pointed out that this was the only group that actually came up with a bipartisan proposal (though it didn’t end up receiving much support beyond the group and there was definitely a lot of disputes that even lead to members leaving the group at one time).
While I tend to think that Warner should be considered because he does have a lot of experience on the issues and his reputation as a centrist might help ease tensions, I think his appointment should only come if he’s also surrounded by some strong progressives. I say this because while he would bring a lot to the table, we’ve seen the Democrats give up a lot more than the GOP has given up in recent compromises. I therefore would like to see the Dems appoint some liberals to help ensure we have some strong voices for progressive values in the discussion.
UPDATE: Here's video of his appearance on the Fox News Channel.