Kaine hammers GOP on debt ceiling, calls out Allen for ’03 vote
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.
On Cantor’s role in the debt ceiling debate. Kaine believes he should still be a part of the talks:
Kaine on the importance of making tax increases as part of the debt ceiling package: