DV Archive

Decision Virginia Archive 8/08- 7/12

Posts Tagged ‘Bill Riggs

Kaine picks his moments to part with Obama

leave a comment »

By: Ryan Nobles – bio | email

It has, and undoubtably will continue to be, one of the prevailing themes of the 2012 campaign for Virginia Senate. How close is Tim Kaine to President Barack Obama?  The obvious answer is very close. Each time the president is forced to confront a difficult decision,  Kaine is also forced to give his take.  Quietly, Kaine has picked opportunities to build some space between he and Obama.  Most of those occasions are never clear-cut, and regularly couched in an overriding appreciation of the president as a friend and as a leader. But make no mistake, Kaine is working to build his own image in a race where the president’s perception could have an overwhelming impact on the race for Senate.

The latest came in an interview with public radio station WRHV in Hampton Roads. Kaine was asked by the host Cathy Lewis what he thought of the confrontation between the Obama administration and the Catholic Church over mandatory coverage for contraception by intuitions operated by the Church.  Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services has determined that facilities such as Catholic hospitals must provide the coverage for free, despite the Church’s moral opposition to contraception. Kaine said he thought the requirement went a bit too far.

“This is something that’s been talked about a lot today and I have definitely expressed my grave concerns to the White House about that,” Kaine said.  “I support the contraception mandate but there should be a religious employer exemption that is broader than the one they proposed.”

The Washington Post’s Ben Pershing picked up the conversation and his blog post quickly spread like wildfire to national political journalists who are aware of the Kaine-Obama connection and it’s implication on the Virginia Senate Race. 

Kaine’s campaign was quick to damper down some of the talk.  They made sure to point out that former Virginia governor still believes the overall contraception mandate makes sense, but just believes the exemption should extend further than what HHS has dictated. 

This back and forth is pretty typical of a Kaine parts with Obama moment. The headline comes out “Kaine parts with Obama”.  The tweets and blogposts follow and then the Kaine team does a bit of work to temper the idea that their candidate has strayed too far from the president, but make clear exactly where the two differ.

Case in point. During an interview with me on First at 4 back in September, Kaine split with the president on raising the tax rate on capital gains and he said he supported a higher sunset rate for the Bush tax cuts.  Just like the contraception issue, Kaine supports the president’s broad policy, but finds subtle differences where he can build some space.

But that is not all.

Kaine called on the Obama administration to continue their study of the Keystone XL pipeline, instead of turning the project down. He believed the president should’ve gone to the Congress before taking any military action in Libya  and he was disappointed when the Obama administration passed by Virginia as a potential site to explore off shore drilling.

It will be impossible for Kaine to completely escape the specter of Obama and he knows it. He once told me that when it comes to he and the president, “I’ve got my own views on some things and he and I some times have some pleasant and some times spirited disagreement on this or that. But on most issues we see things the same way.”  That is why the Kaine team welcomes polls like today’s that shows Obama (and them) with a slight lead in Virginia.

But while Kaine wiggles an every so small space between he and Obama, George Allen will continue to pound home his belief that his fellow former governor will be nothing more than a rubber stamp for a Obama agenda. 

National republicans have already pounced on Kaine’s statements on the contraception debate, tying it to his overall strong support for the health care reform law.

“If Tim Kaine is truly concerned with government overreach today,” asked Brian Walsh of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.  ‘Why didn’t he listen to the countless Virginians and Americans across the country who expressed these same concerns BEFORE he joined with President Obama to help ram ObamaCare through the Congress?”

So between now and election day, expect every moment of new difference between Kaine and Obama to become big news stories. No matter how small the issue may be.


Written by Ryan Nobles

February 8, 2012 at 7:34 pm

Kaine parts with Obama on capital gains hikes

with 2 comments


It is the issue that could define former Governor Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) in the race for U.S. Senate from Virginia. If Kaine can articulate a message on taxes that sounds reasonable to independent and moderate voters it could quell the concerns raised by his potential opponent, former Governor George Allen (R-Virginia). And depending on how that position is received, it could also provide him wiggle room in his tight association with President Obama.

The issue on the table right now is President Obama’s proposal to pay for his jobs bill. It is a plan that includes a mix of new taxes that add up to $1.5 trillion.

Kaine is generally supportive of the president’s deficit reduction plan. In an interview Monday on NBC12 First at 4, Kaine told me that more revenue is a necessity.

“I have supported the expiration of the (Bush) tax cuts… let them expire at the top end,” Kaine said “I also believe we do need to take away some of the tax breaks and loopholes for big oil. I want the companies to be profitable, but they don’t need our help.”

But while he is generally supportive of the plan, Kaine stops short of the president in two key areas. He believes the Bush tax cuts should expire starting at the $500,000 a year mark, while Mr. Obama has proposed the taxes kick back in at the $250,000 a year level. He also is resistant to pushing high rates on income made from investments.

“I have not supported that provision,” he said.

An increase to capital gains taxes have been a point of contention for the president and a constant knock from republicans who have couched the president’s plan as just a massive tax hike.

Republicans like George Allen, whose staff responded to the Kaine interview.

“Mr. Kaine is clearly feeling the weight of advocating for the President’s failed agenda over the last three years,” said Bill Riggs, Allen’s press secretary.

Riggs pointed out that Kaine has had a mixed message on taxes from his time as DNC Chairman, to his time as a candidate. Monday, Kaine pointed out emphatically that an expiration of the Bush Tax cuts would not be a tax increase, even citing anti-tax champion Grover Norquist.

“The Bush tax cuts in the plan were made temporary,” said Kaine. “George Allen voted for them to be temporary and they were made temporary for one reason. If you make them permanent, they will completely explode the deficit, so here they are, they’re temporary, they’re set to expire at the end of 2012 and I have supported the element of the president’s plan that would let those tax cuts expire at the top end. That’s not voting for a tax increase.”

But according to Riggs, Kaine had a different position when he was at the DNC, applauding the president’s bi-partisan plan to extend the tax cuts. While Kaine voiced support for the overall plan, he specifically applauded the extension of the tax cuts for the middle class, saying that it allowed Americans to “breathe a sigh of relief”.  His staff maintains that has always been against the extension of the Bush Tax Cuts for high earners.

Hence the challenge for Kaine. Can he find the common ground on taxes that can fend off Allen’s attacks while at the same time building some space between he and President Obama? It could be the difference between winning and losing.

You can see my full interview with Governor Kaine below. A full transcript is available at NBC12.com.

The full statement from Governor Allen’s campaign can be found after the jump. Governor Allen has also been invited for an interview on First at 4 as well.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ryan Nobles

September 26, 2011 at 10:53 pm

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

with 2 comments

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