Just 17 days away from Election Day, Tim Kaine, Virginia's Democratic nominee in the U.S. Senate race, criticized his Republican opponent George Allen Saturday on a number of issues at a Democratic campaign office in Fairfax Station.
Kaine, who thanked volunteers and spoke for about 20 minutes, laid out differences between he and Allen on three issues: The economy, the federal budget and finding common ground in Washington.
"This is just a dead-heat race," said Kaine of his Senate campaign. "In the President's race, this is the closest ballot in the country… There's no other state that is as close as Virginia."
Kaine is leading Allen 50-45, according to a recent survey by Public Policy Polling.
Kaine on the economy
"George's attitude then and his attitude now in his campaign has been to cut taxes and cut regulation, especially cut taxes for those at the top-end. We saw what happened. That was a strategy they (Republicans) used to turn surpluses into deficits and put us in the worst economic tailspin since the 1930s.
"You want to make sure taxes and regulation are balanced, but there's not a tax you can cut that's going to help somebody get a college degree or add one foot to (Rail-to) Dulles Phase II. I'm a big believer in investments in infrastructure. Hire people right away and then raise the platform for economic success: Investments in education and talent, workforce training, Pell grants, strategies to bring college costs down so students don't finish with a college degree and have loans that are too big, and level the playing field for small businesses.
"So, on the economy side, George Allen is a 'cut taxes and regulation' kind of guy…But you can't cut your way to prosperity. You have to invest and innovate your way to prosperity.
Kaine on the federal budget
"Let's just talk some simple math, because a lot of people really do want to know - especially in Virginia with sequestration and defense cuts on the horizon - how do we deal with budget issues?
"We're spending $3.6 trillion a year. We're taking in $2.3 trillion a year. We've got to close that gap, and do it the right way and not the wrong way. George Allen says that the first thing you do is make permanent the Bush tax cuts for everyone — even the wealthiest.
"Now, hold on a second. We're not closing any gap by doing that. We're just letting the gap get bigger… (For Republicans) the way to close the gap is to just pull out the meat ax and start cutting everything - education, infrastructure, social service programs, Medicare, defense - everything gets cut. And especially the non-defense items get cut in budgets like the Ryan budget, which tried to close the gap with no revenues. They get cut by 75 percent - in education, infrastructure and R&D and things that make this economy grow... It's a foolish strategy, and it's the kind of foolish strategy that put us into this mess.
"My strategy is, 'OK, you start with that same gap, the first thing you do is let the Bush tax cuts expire. Now you're closing the gap by bringing in more revenue. And then you can find targeted savings, absolutely. I had to do it as Governor and I had to cut $5 million out of the budget.
"Allen never had to make any real cuts when he was Governor. He can talk a good game - 'We're going to be fiscally responsible' - but pretty much everything that Allen has attacked me on in this campaign was on 'Why did you cut this when you were Governor?' And this is a guy (Allen) who's going to go in and do all the cuts, but he's going to come after me because of the worst recession in 75 years. I had to make cuts to balance a budget. I know how to do it. But I also know that cuts and only cuts are the wrong strategy.
Kaine on finding common ground in Washington
"You find common ground by putting people in office who know how to work together. I was a non-partisan Mayor of the very diverse city of Richmond…before that I was a missionary running a vocational school in Honduras… and then as a Lieutenant Governor and Governor, and in six of my eight years we had Republican-led Houses (of Delegates). We won accolades for best-managed state, best state for business, best state to raise a child. None of them were Tim Kaine accolades. But you wouldn't have gotten them if you didn't have a Democratic Governor who knew how to work with Republican legislators…
"When George was a Governor he very famously said 'We Republicans, we should enjoy knocking Democrats' soft teeth down their whiny throats.' He said that, and didn't do it with a smile either… And when he was a Senator, George had a very interesting track record. There was gridlock then, too. The Republicans were in the majority, and John Warner - a proud Republican - was our senior senator. And he (Warner) joined a gang of 14 Senators, seven Dems and seven Rs to work together to break through the gridlock.
"Where was George Allen? George Allen wouldn't join the gang. In fact, George Allen was leading the people ridiculing the gang, ridiculing the work of John Warner, our senior senator… So, while I've got a track record of pulling people together and finding common ground, George has a track record - both as Governor and as Senator - of not wanting to find common ground, and battling against compromise and insisting that we should knock the other party around."
The Allen campaign sent Patch this emailed response to Kaine's statements:
“It’s ironic that Tim Kaine is talking about fiscal responsibility when he supported every major failed policy that has come out of Washington that has added over $5 trillion to our national debt.
"George Allen as Governor worked with a Democrat-controlled legislature to help create over 300,000 new jobs for Virginia by lowering taxes by $600 Million, reforming 70 percent of regulations and investing in community safety and education. Tim Kaine, who lost 100,000 Virginia jobs while Governor, was forced to cut spending because the legislature refused to approve his $4 Billion tax increase plans that would hurt Virginians making as little as $17,000 a year.
"Now Tim Kaine’s answer to the nation’s fiscal challenges is the raise taxes, which will create more job losses. Instead of launching negative, misleading attacks, Tim Kaine should focus on what he could learn from George Allen who actually created net new jobs for Virginians by working across the aisle for historic reforms.”
-Emily Davis, campaign spokesman for George Allen.