Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10) addressed members of the Northern Virginia Technology Council Friday, Jan. 10 at Sprint in Reston.
The two legislators discussed priorities for the year ahead, as well as the need for a long-term budget solution from congress.
Credit: Alex McVeigh
Both agreed that the budget recently put together by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) was a stopgap at best, and it is in the country's best interest to work to a long-term solution.
"This is the last of the small deals. Early in these negotiations, both parties said their sacred cows were off limits. For Republicans, you couldn't touch the tax code or revenues, and for Democrats you couldn't touch entitlements," Warner said. "I still believe that the single biggest job creation action we can take in this country is to put in place a long-term deal that wouldn't give two years of stability, but long-term stability that would allow us to say to our kids, our parents and ourselves that we promise our entitlement programs will be there and be sustainable for not just two years, but the next 25 years. That we'll be able to come up with taxes that are pro-growth, but generate additional revenues."
Wolf said he couldn't exactly call himself "completely optimistic" when it comes to the future of the country.
"I'm not suggesting that America is in decline, but I think we're facing decline, and I think we will go into decline if we do not do what Sen. Warner is talking about, and come to some kind of grand bargain," he said. ""We are $17 trillion in debt ... ten years from now the debt will be $26 trillion. We spend $4.2 billion every week on interest. Not infrastructure, not roads, not cancer research, not research on Alzheimer's but on interest ... a great nation cannot survive on those numbers."
The two also spoke about other pressing issues. For Warner, this included immigration reform.
"We know how critically important [immigration] is to our companies. Many of them are in a race for capital, which they have access to, and also a race for talent. I continue to think that one of the craziest things we do is train the world's best and brightest, and then when we want to hire them, but because of our immigration issues, we can't," he said. "They can't be hired here, so they simply go across the border to Canada, or to the U.K. If you look at the numbers and see the growth in Canadian companies using American-trained workers, I'm hopeful this is something we can accomplish."
For Wolf, needed reform includes an overhaul of the prison system.
"You can'y put a man or woman in prison for 15 years with no drug rehab, no training, and expect them to come out and be productive members of society," he said. "The Bureau of Prisons budget is larger than that of the National Science Foundation. We're the number one incarcerators in the world."