Sen. Mark Warner: Democrats must reach out beyond the East and West Coasts

Sen. Warner: Election lost about 'rejection' of more than Dems

After an election that all but wiped the Democratic Party off Washington's power grid, it is time for Democrats to focus on shaping an economic system that works for a wider base of supporters, Sen. Mark Warner told CNBC on Wednesday.

"I believe strongly that we've got to align the incentives in capitalism to make it work for a broader group of people," the Virginia Democrat said on "Squawk Box." "We can't just be a party of metropolitan areas and of the East Coast and the West Coast."

Warner said the fundamentals in the country's economic system are out of line with the realities facing U.S. workers.

"The social contract that was put together in the 1930s and 1940s, which was based on the assumption you're going to work at the same firm for 20 years, that's gone. We've got to re-examine that," Warner said.

Beyond that, Warner said corporations have narrowed their management goals on chasing quarterly profits rather than focusing on long-term results.

"The business community we see today that has 95 percent of corporate profits spent on share buyback and dividends rather than re-investing in businesses" is not conducive to growth, and needs to change to benefit more people, Warner said.

President-elect Donald Trump's call for wide-ranging tax cuts is also a worry for Democrats like Warner, who voiced concern about how they will be paid for.

"What I'm hoping is that particularly my friends in the Freedom Caucus over on the House are going to be as tough on debt and deficit as they were with [President Barack] Obama," Warner said, referring to the group of conservative Republican lawmakers. "If we do a short-term 'sugar high' with a tax cut that's unpaid for and massive new spending, when interest rates go up … we can't meet the debt service that we've already run up."

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