WASHINGTON -- Virginia Sen. Mark Warner (D) is not known for his dramatic outbursts, but the Democratic former telecom maven apparently had more than he could take Wednesday when conservative economic experts tried to argue that a default on America's debt wouldn't be so bad.
Warner, who has amassed a fortune of up to $300 million thanks to his business success, is normally reserved, but he lashed out during a hearing of the Joint Economic Committee at Daniel Mitchell, a Cato Institute scholar, and David Malpass, the president of Encima Global -- who both suggested the country could go over the brink.
"It's stunning to me that anybody who would claim economic expertise would say that messing with the full faith and credit of the United States of America is a responsible action. I mean, it's mind-boggling," Warner said.
Warner had plenty more to say as well -- not just to hapless experts, but also to his colleagues in Congress who have been unable to compromise for years on spending and taxation.
He was especially harsh on lawmakers who absolutely refuse to consider raising any taxes when the aging population will require greater expenditures. Many of them -- primarily Republicans -- want to keep the nation's tax revenue at about 18 percent of the gross domestic product. Warner said those who are standing firm on taxation in spite of growing demands of Baby Boomers and in spite of the Clinton years, when slightly higher tax rates produced surpluses, aren't being realistic.
"Anybody who says -- on any historic basis, looking at the past 75 years, or ... those five or six years when we've had balanced budgets, when those revenues ended up between 19.5 to 21 percent -- that somehow we're going to get back to that historic 18 percent revenue line, that [it] is going to be sustainable with anything approaching what the American people have come to expect is, again, is divorced from reality," Warner said.
He also argued that the consequences of a debt showdown this year are much worse than two years ago when the country's credit rating got downgraded.
"We got through the debt limit, we didn't crash. We got through the so-called Super Committee, we didn't crash. We got through the stupid fiscal cliff," Warner said. "But I tell you, I think this time we're playing with fire exponentially greater, without virtually any other tools to react."
He said lots more in the 6-minute tirade. Watch it above.