Today, former governor and U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine discussed a path to avoid harmful defense cuts that will take effect if Congress does not reach an agreement to responsibly address our fiscal crisis. Kaine emphasized the devastating effect the scheduled cuts would have on Virginia's economy and the need to avoid them by setting aside politics and negotiating a long-term deficit reduction proposal that includes significant cuts and new revenues.
"There's been a lot of grandstanding around the impending defense cuts and the time spent grandstanding should be productively used right now to find a path forward to avoid them," said Kaine. "Whether it's my opponent running an ad suggesting I'm pro-defense cuts, or whether people are more focused on doing press events to talk about the defense cuts instead of working to find a solution that might avoid them, there are too many who are still sussing out the politics of this instead of finding solutions to the challenge."
During the call, Kaine pointed out that the fiscal crisis the nation faces was created, in part, by politicians like George Allen who took a record surplus and turned it into a massive deficit during his time in Washington. Instead of working to solve a crisis he helped create, Allen participated in the brinkmanship over last summer's deal that caused the downgrade of America's credit rating.
Kaine said, "Rather than joining Virginia leaders like Eric Cantor and Governor McDonnell, rather than joining business organizations like the U.S. Chamber or the Fairfax Chambers of Commerce, rather than joining key leaders in the Senate like Senator John McCain in supporting the compromise to avoid America defaulting on its credit for the first time in American history, George Allen labeled the possibility of our country defaulting as a great opportunity for leverage. He was willing to let the country default and risk a second economic collapse."
Kaine then contrasted his balanced approach, which would reduce the deficit while allowing for investments in key priorities like education and infrastructure, with George Allen's all-cuts approach, which would cost jobs in Virginia and weaken national defense.
"The solution is not complicated. The solution has been laid out by so many different groups, both in the political process and outside, who have said clearly, we've got to make a number of cuts. We do need some more revenue and addressing what's happening with the Bush tax cuts is key to it. Rather than playing more games, we need to get down to business," stated Kaine. "I think this is an issue that needs to be solved for the fiscal good of the country, and I call upon members of Congress, who are spending time in showboats and press conferences, to actually spend time dialoging with their colleagues and finding a path forward."
On the issue of the expiring Bush tax cuts, Kaine continued to contrast his middle ground approach with George Allen's approach which would make out deficit situation worse.
"The president has called on Congress to allow the cuts to expire for those making over $250,000. Republicans, including my opponent, say we should extend all the tax cuts, and will offer no plan to offset the tremendous cost. I believe that there is a middle ground position. That's why I've called on Congress to allow the tax cuts to expire for those earning over $500,000. This is a middle ground, it's a compromise between where the President is and the make-everything-permanent position of the Republican Party. And while finding a middle ground doesn't seem to be popular these days, it's exactly what the American public wants Congress to do. If we do it, we'll generate more than $500 billion dollars in revenue, and that can be used to pay down the deficit and avoid the harmful sequestration cuts to defense and domestic spending," Kaine said.
"The difference between my proposal and the Allen proposal is my proposal makes the deficit gap we have to close smaller, which would avoid significant cuts, and the Allen make-everything-permanent [position] makes the deficit we have to close even bigger, which increases the likelihood of catastrophic cuts," Kaine said.
During the call, Kaine also highlighted his record of working across the aisle as governor to find common ground and improve the lives of all Virginians. As governor during the worst recession since the Great Depression, Kaine worked with members of both parties to cut more than $5 billion in spending.
"We cannot afford the all-cuts approach. We have to approach the cuts in a very straightforward line-item by line-item way. I have a lot of experience in doing that as governor, I've got a track record, I know how to make cuts, but you can't cut your way to prosperity. So we've got to deal with the Bush tax cuts, and then we have to embrace the notion of finding the right cuts to make, not the wrong cuts," said Kaine.
As governor, Kaine also led a bipartisan effort that successfully protected Virginia defense priorities by opposing the transfer of an aircraft carrier from Norfolk Naval Base and investing millions to offset federal Base Realignment and Closure requirements.