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Earthquake forces Warner outside for public forum
Warner presentation moves outside following earthquake.

 Warner
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Date published: 8/24/2011

BY DONNIE JOHNSTON

Given Congress' recent 13 percent approval rating, Washington politicians expect to get rocked these days.

Sen. Mark Warner, however, had no idea what was in store for him yesterday at the Library of Congress' Packard Center in Culpeper.

A few minutes before Warner was scheduled to speak, the walls of the Packard Center's theater began to sway violently. It sounded like a train was passing over the in-ground building.

At first some thought the effects were theatrical, but when bits of debris began falling from the ceiling, people began to realize that they were in an earthquake.

By the time the senator arrived a few minutes later, the building had been evacuated and his audience members--more than 100 local government officials--were wandering around in the parking lot.

Warner found the nearest shade tree, took off his coat and spoke to the crowd for about 20 minutes before the building was declared safe and everyone went back inside.

There Warner, who had earlier given his views on how to bring down America's $14.5 trillion debt, began to feel the aftershocks of both the earthquake and the debt ceiling crisis of three weeks ago.

Concerning questions about Social Security, Warner said that with people now living longer he would be in favor of upping the benefits age and taxing salaries above the present $106,000 salary cap.

He added that he felt that Social Security solvency should be assured for at least 75 years.

Saying that there "is no silver bullet" to solve America's financial woes, Warner also said that he would be in favor of raising income taxes for people who earn more than $250,000.

He said jobs would be key to the country's economic recovery, but that too many young Americans didn't have the right skills to find employment. He added that a government-business partnership as exists in Germany might be a good model for the United States to use.

Regarding the earthquake, Warner recalled that a tornado at CulpeperFest required him to make a quick exit 10 years ago.

"Every time I come to Culpeper I seem to bring a disaster," he quipped.

Donnie Johnston:
Email: djohnston@freelancestar.com