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Decision Virginia Archive 8/08- 7/12

Kaine raps McDonnell on unemployment benefits

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Governor Tim Kaine just responded to a letter former Attorney General and Republican Candidate for Governor Bob McDonnell sent to members of Congress. In his letter McDonnell asks the federal representatives to “remove the strings” connected to the release of millions of dollars in federal stimulus funds for unemployment benefits. McDonnell has taken quite a bit of heat over his support of the Republican controlled House of Delegates efforts to prevent the expansion of unemployment benefits  in order allow the commonwealth to be eligible for the federal funding.

In his original letter McDonnell instructs the members of congress that forcing permanent changes to the unemployment benefits structure would cost too much over the long term, to make it worth it to take advantage of two years of federal stimulus dollars. He suggests that if congress really wants to help the states, they should remove the language that requires any changes to be permanent.

While the letter was not directed to Governor Kaine, McDonnell mentions the Governor in the letter and wrote that he hopes to “work together to ensure Virginians get the help they need now.”

Governor Kaine took McDonnell up on his offer by following a similar pattern. he wrote a letter and then released it to the media.

Kaine outright rejects the basic claim in McDonnell’s proposal. He states emphatically that states are welcome to revert back to prior standards once stimulus funds are depleted. He goes on to say that now that McDonnell is aware that his concerns have already been addressed by the administration, that he should agree that it will benefit all Virginians for the General Assembly to reconvene to make the necessary changes and therefore have access to the federal funds.

Governor Kaine has been very careful to not wade into the race for his current job, despite his role as the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee.  In fact, overall he and McDonnell have had a very cordial relationship and have gone out of their way to not be critical of one another.

This however appears to be an opportunity too good for Kaine to turn down. The unemployment benefits squabble has been very near and dear to his heart and it gives him the chance to rap the guy who he wants to see lose, while at the same time acting as Governor.  It also helps that it was McDonnell drew his sword first by mentioning Kaine in his intial letter.

Everyone is watching Kaine closely to see how he handles this race for Governor. As the DNC chair, he cannot sit on the sidelines. However, he risks losing his stature as a respected statesman if he gets too involved and his action gets in the way of his efforts to govern.

Written by Ryan Nobles

April 30, 2009 at 7:44 pm

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