By Todd Allen Wilson
U.S. Senate candidate and former Gov. Tim Kaine told the crowd at U.S. Rep. Robert C. "Bobby" Scott's, D-Newport News, annual Labor Day picnic that trying to rein in the nation's massive debt and budget deficits with a cuts-only approach is a "big mistake."
"Let's make some cuts," Kaine said. "But we've also got to find some revenues. We don't need to be giving tax breaks to Exxon-Mobile, or continuing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest."
As part of his economic plan Kaine has called for letting the George W. Bush tax cuts expire for people making more than $500,000 a year. This is a more moderate proposal than that of his close political ally President Barack Obama who wants the Bush tax cuts to expire for those making more than $250,000 annually.
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Kaine said the approach favored by Republicans in Congress lowers taxes for the highest income earners while making cuts with a "meat ax" to education, college financial aid programs and infrastructure funding.
The former Democratic governor said he's willing to make cuts and pointed to his time in the executive mansion in Richmond where he said he made $5 billion in cuts to the state budget and was the only modern Virginia governor to leave office with a smaller General Fund budget than when he started.
Kaine lead the state through the nation's deepest recession since the Great Depression.
Emily Davis, spokeswoman for Kaine's opponent former Gov. and former U.S. Sen. George Allen, said Kaine is sending the wrong message during tough economic times.
"Tim Kaine's message to the 23 million unemployed and underemployed Americans this Labor Day is we need higher taxes, which will further discourage job creation," Davis said Monday in an email statement.
"Virginians can't afford Tim Kaine's record of proposing tax increases on people making as little as $17,000 a year while Virginia lost 100,000 jobs," Davis said. "George Allen understands that tax increases don't create jobs, and he's running on his record of helping create 300,000 net new private sector Virginia jobs with pro-growth policies of lower taxes, reasonable regulations and affordable American energy solutions."
Scott, who is running for re-election in the state's 3rd Congressional District, and U.S. Sen. Mark Warner backed Kaine at Scott's 36th annual picnic. The event, held at his late parents' home on Shore Drive in Newport News, is traditionally seen as a kick-off event for Democratic general election campaigns in the Old Dominion. It drew about 400 people on a day that began with rain but was clear for politics, hot dogs and live music.
Candidates in addition to Kaine and Scott were Paul Hirschbiel who is seeking the 2nd Congressional seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Virginia Beach, and Chesapeake City Councilwoman Ella Ward who is running for the 4th Congressional seat held by U.S. Rep. J. Randy Forbes, R-Chesapeake. The 2nd District includes parts of Hampton and Newport News and the 4th District covers parts of Suffolk, Smithfield and Isle of Wight County.
School board and city council members and candidates from across the region also came to rally supporters ahead of the Nov. 6 election.
Scott and Warner both pointed to the millions of dollars worth of attack ads against Kaine financed by super-PACs such as Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity. The ads were found constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 2010 Citizen's United decision.
Warner noted that many of these outside attacks by groups who don't have to disclose their donors have been disputed by independent fact-checking organizations such as PolitiFact.org and FactCheck.org.
"Facts do matter. Elections matter," Warner said. "That's why we can't let (these groups) rewrite history."
Kaine also highlighted the need to find "common ground" in Washington across party lines to solve the nation's problems.
"I'll go up and I'll join with Mark Warner; join with Congressman Scott and others to be part of the bridge-building team," Kaine said. "The solutions team, not the sound-bite team. Not the knock people around team. We're going to be bridge builders."