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Archive for July 2011

Big night for Decision Virginia!

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Written by Ryan Nobles

July 29, 2011 at 12:24 am

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Normally optimistic Mark Warner “losing sleep” over debt fight

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By: Ryan Nobles – bio | email

He is normally the guy trying to rally everyone else. When everyone sees gloom and doom, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia) looks for opportunity.  But after several attempts to be the voice of reason in an increasingly rancorous debate over the federal debt ceiling, even Mark Warner is starting to lose faith.

“Ryan, I can’t  sleep at night,” he told me Tuesday during a satellite interview from Capitol Hill.  “I am very worried.”

Last week, I caught up with Warner just as his “Gang of Six” was leaving his office. At that time Warner felt like he and a few of his bi-partisan colleagues had come up with  plan that mixed cuts and tax increases to ease the country’s debt burden and increase the debt ceiling.

He thought it was a plan he could sell. He was wrong.  About an hour or so later, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R- Henrico) gave me the first glimpse into what the Republican House would think of the plan when he told me that from his view, the numbers “just don’t make sense”.

Now,  less than a week later, the Gang of Six plan, which was gaining momentum, is on the outside looking in. The White House and House Republicans aren’t talking and there doesn’t appear to be any kind of serious plan that all three players will be able to agree upon.

Hence the reason, Warner is getting concerned.

“In my heart,  I’ve got to believe that we will not go through driving off this off the cliff,” he said.  “But we got to get out of our partisan foxholes we’ve got to be willing to get over this debt limit.”

Warner is still holding out hope that at least some version of the Gang of Six plan will be in the mix, but at this point there are no indications that any deal is imminent.  Making many people in Washington, New York and beyond very nervous.

Extended clips from my conversation with Warner, including his warnings about what could happen if we get to August 2nd without a deal are below:

Written by Ryan Nobles

July 26, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Debt ceiling negotiations go through Virginia

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By: Ryan Nobles – bio | email

The debate over the future over the U.S. debt limit is running straight through the Commonwealth of Virginia.

My story from 6pm Wednesday night on NBC12:

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWBT) – In Washington, the debate is heating up over the approaching debt ceiling deadline.

Virginia Senator Mark Warner is hopeful that a plan by a bi-partisan group of senators can turn things around. That plan has been hatched by a group dubbed the “Gang of Six”. While their plan has promise, Congressman Eric Cantor told me today that he doesn’t think the numbers add up.

…read the rest of the story on NBC12.com.

Meanwhile, much has been made about how Rep. Eric Cantor’s prominent role in the debt ceiling negotiations could be a make or break point for his career. This is what he told me during our interview today:

Also on the end there.. you may have caught Cantor’s opinion of Mark Warner’s debt ceiling “gang of 6” compromise. If you didn’t here is the full quote:

“You can’t make sense of the numbers, I like the fact that you are bringing down tax rates, because I think that is a growth oriented measure. But when you look at the kind of revenues they are talking about in their package, at least loosely. It doesn’t make sense.”  -Rep. Eric Cantor on “Gang of 6” proposal

Warner on the other hand, ever the optimist, isn’t ready to throw stones, quite yet:

And Rep. Bobby Scott seems pretty sure everyone has their priorities out of whack:

Written by Ryan Nobles

July 20, 2011 at 6:25 pm

Billionaire pushes popular vote plan

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In 2000, more people voted for Al Gore than did George W. Bush. However Bush was elected president.

In 2004, Bush won Ohio by a razor-thin 66,000 votes enough to capture enough electoral college votes and defeat John Kerry. However, what looked like a close election was not close at all across the nation as Bush won by more than 3 million votes.

Tom Golisano is a businessman, sports owner and part-time politician. He is also an Independent. He thinks it is time for the electoral college to come to an end.

“It is the only election that works that way in the United States of America, it was formed and created that way in a much different era,” Golisano said. “There were very few states, no means of communication or computing.”

Golisano knows a thing or two about elections. He ran for Governor of New York as an independent three different times, using almost all his own money to mount serious, but unsuccessful elections.  He stepped down from the company he founded, Paychex in 2004 and sold his interest in the NHL Buffalo Sabres earlier this year.

Now, semi-retired, Golisano is pushing state legislatures across the country to pass a law that would force them to surrender their electoral votes to the candidate for president that receives the most popular votes. Golisano is half-way to his goal of getting states that equal 270 electoral votes to sign on. Enough to render the electoral college symbolic.

We will have a more in-depth look at his efforts to get rid of the electoral college in the coming weeks.

But that wasn’t the only news Golisano broke while he was on with us.  Sports fans in Western New York (full disclosure, my hometown) are worried about the future of the NFL Buffalo Bills.  Golisano is credited with saving the Sabres franchise and now many are wondering if he plans to do the same for the Bills, when current owner Ralph Wilson passes away. (Wilson is in his 90’s and hasn’t given a clear indication for the future of the team).

Here is what Golisano told me:

I’m concerned about the Buffalo Bills, ever leaving the community of Buffalo, I think it would be a terrible shame. I have made the commitment that if that likelihood appears to be happening, I will try and get involved and see what I can do to prevent it.” – B. Thomas Golisano on NBC12 First at 4, 7/19/2011

You can see the full interview with Golisano below:

Written by Ryan Nobles

July 19, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Kaine hammers GOP on debt ceiling, calls out Allen for ’03 vote

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There are times to play politics and there are times to govern. Former Governor Tim Kaine believes that republicans in Washington are playing a dangerous game with the debt ceiling debate and it is all for political gain, at the worst possible time.

In an extensive interview Thursday, Kaine, who is running for the U.S. Senate from Virginia, told me that the GOP cares little about the country and more about making President Barack Obama look bad.

“(Republicans are saying) we don’t want to do a deal because it might help President Obama,” said Kaine. “It’s not President Obama that is the issue here, it is the Country.”

Throughout the entire debt ceiling debate, former Senator George Allen, the front runner for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate,  has been a strong supporter of the GOP plan dubbed “cut, cap and balance”.  Cut the budget, cap spending to a percentage tied to gross domestic product and constitutionally require the federal government to balance the budget.  He, like the republicans in Washington making this case, believe that the debt ceiling debate is a perfect time to address this proposal.

His spokesman Bill Riggs said in a statement that Allen, unlike Kaine, does not believe tax increases should be involved in the discussion in any way.  That fight, said Riggs is not about politics like Kaine claims, it is about the unemployment rate.

“The question is, why would Chairman Kaine want to raise taxes a trillion dollars with unemployment already at 9.2%, knowing it will adversely impact job creation?”  Riggs asked.

Kaine doesn’t buy that Allen cares about spending cuts, because if he did why didn’t he use the opportunity to reign in spending when he voted four different times to raise the debt ceiling? In 2003, Allen passed on the chance to vote for an amendment that would require congress to specifically identify how the government will pay for any spending increases.  If they money wasn’t there, it couldn’t be passed. The policy is called “pay-go”.

At the time the GOP was in control and the amendment was designed to make a point about the debt ceiling increase. Allen voted against it.  Kaine believes that if the amendment had passed then, the deficit would not be nearly the problem it is now.

“If the pay-go restriction had been put into place much of the issues that we are dealing with today in the deficit might not have been even issues that we had to deal with,” Kaine said.

Team Allen, however points out that the issues of 2003 are much different from 2011. The debt in 2003 was around $7 trillion, now it is hovering north of $14 trillion.  They believe that the problem can be reigned in with their three-pronged cut, cap and balance with no tax cuts.  Kaine and the democrats believe new revenues of some kind are a necessity.  According to Riggs, that is the problem.

“As Governor, Chairman Kaine advocated and pushed for billions in tax increases,” Riggs said.  “And now it seems he’s standing with his Democrat friends in Washington to raise taxes again.”

But despite Kaine’s rejection of debt ceiling politics, perhaps his most powerful supporters has admitted that he used the debt ceiling for just that end.  President Obama himself,  voted against raising the debt ceiling in 2006, as a young senator, toiling away in the minority.  As the debt ceiling debate began to ramp up, the President admitted that from his new perch in the White House, the issue is far to grave to mess around with.

I asked Kaine about the President, and he refused to be critical of the ’06 vote, but primarily because he claimed to not know enough about it.

“I am not a student of that vote,” said Kaine. He went on to say that depending on the situation a point can be made with a debt ceiling vote.  Where republicans have gone wrong it is on their insistence that score political points against the president.

“You don’t use an economic catastrophe as leverage, you don’t use a government shutdown as leverage,” he said. ” If you do that you are just using pure politics, rather than trying to solve a problem.”

Extended clips from Kaine on debt ceiling politics, including President Obama’s vote as Senator can be found below:

The full statement from Bill Riggs, Press Secretary for George Allen  is below:

“As Governor, Chairman Kaine advocated and pushed for billions in tax increases, and now it seems he’s standing with his Democrat friends in Washington to raise taxes again.  So the question is, why would Chairman Kaine want to raise taxes a trillion dollars with unemployment already at 9.2%, knowing it will adversely impact job creation?  And if Chairman Kaine says he is open to a Balanced Budget Amendment, why is he telling Virginians that it’s not the right thing to do now?  Is it because he wants to raise taxes and have no real measures to rein in Washington spending?  It seems like Chairman Kaine would rather stand with President Obama and put a band aid on our debt crisis than stand with the people of Virginia and propose a long-term fix.” – Bill Riggs, Allen Campaign Spokesman

Governor Kaine also had quite a bit to say about taxes and Rep. Eric Cantor. I posted a few raw clips from our interview after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ryan Nobles

July 14, 2011 at 11:05 pm

Radtke believes debate could be a game changer in GOP primary

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It is an uphill battle for the “rest of the field” in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate. But despite the distinct fundraising disadvantage and the serious lack of name recognition, many of the challengers to front runner George Allen believe they can beat him.

Some are hoping for a grass roots surge.

Others think maybe key endorsements or a momentum shift could change the game.

While most won’t admit it, they might be counting on a gaffe by Allen as the difference in playing from behind to having a shot to win.

Most of those hopes are far fetched and lack specificity. Jamie Radtke is much more direct. She knows what could turn her campaign from long shot to legitimate.

“The true game changer would be a debate between myself and George Allen,” said Radtke.

Radtke said she welcomes all the other challengers as well, but feels confident that given the opportunity, voters would find that she is the refreshing alternative to Allen.

“The question is, will George Allen do a debate?’ she said.

Radtke said that many interested, independent groups have approached her campaign about the potential for a debate, but all plans are preliminary at this point. She said that her campaign’s stance on debates is clear.

“Name the time, name the place,” she said.  “This is a primary, it has not been decided who the nominee for the republican party will be and we would expect George Allen to participate in a debate.”

You can see more of our interview with Jamie Radkte below, including her feelings on Sarah Palin and what she thinks about the possibility of her endorsement.

Written by Ryan Nobles

July 11, 2011 at 10:48 pm

Warner won’t consider Treasury Secretary post

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By: Ryan Nobles – bio | email

Late last week the Wall Street Journal reported that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was considering stepping down from his post after he helps to navigate the White House through contentious talks over the federal debt ceiling.

Predictably, Geithner denied the report, but that did not stop the Beltway chatter over his possible replacement.  Most of the potential replacements come from Wall Street, but the Journal did speculate that if President Barack Obama wanted to break away from the financial crowd, that he might look to Virginia Senator Mark Warner.

The White House could look for a similar background for its next Treasury Secretary, which has led many to speculate that former White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles or Sen. Mark Warner (D., Va.) could be tapped, as both have extensive relationships with Republicans and have tried to broker deficit-reduction deals.  – DAMIAN PALETTA, Wall Street Journal (Full story subscriber only)

Warner told me today that he considers the federal debt crisis, the most important challenge of his career, but said that he believes he can do more to effect change as 1 of 100 as opposed to the top dog at the federal agency responsible for printing money.

“I would put it in the idle speculation category,” Warner said. “I hope I can add some value in Virginia and the country as being one of these guys in the Senate that says neither side has all the answers and you’ve got to find some common ground.”

Warner has made no secret of his frustration over the bickering on Capitol Hill over the debt debate and appears at times to be disappointed that he can’t find more partners to put their party affiliations aside for the greater good.

“It’s a lot harder here in the Senate,” he said.

Despite the difficulty he has faced on the legislative side of debate, Warner isn’t ready to abandoned his efforts for the Treasury Department.

“I would not consider that kind of opportunity,” said Warner. “I’m not sure it is a realistic opportunity anyway… I just hope and pray that I can be a part of a common sense solution to this debt and deficit issue.”

Of course, the job isn’t open yet, but Warner seemed to be trying to shut down any speculation before it even gets to that point.

His full comments on the speculation can be found below:

Written by Ryan Nobles

July 6, 2011 at 5:20 pm