The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Kaine states case for Democrats
BY CHELYEN DAVIS
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine, in a speech on the Democratic National Convention’s opening night, described a slowly improving economy that would be dragged down by Republican rule.
In his speech, Kaine portrayed Democrats as the party that “fought for the middle class,” and obliquely praised the auto-industry bailout. He said Virginia has gone from reliably red to a swing state because “Democrats get results.”
“We cut taxes for 95 percent of American families,” Kaine said. “We went from 25 months of job losses to 29 straight months of private-sector job growth. The auto industry is back. Manufacturers are hiring again.”
He painted Republicans as a party that “pushed ideology and wedge issues,” a reference to social issues such as personhood, abortion and contraception access.
Democrats say Republican positions on those issues are a threat to women’s health and autonomy, and make those issues regular talking points on the campaign trail.
Kaine also described Republican budget proposals as “fiscally reckless.”
“The last time they were in charge, the other side turned a record surplus into a massive deficit with two wars, trillions in tax breaks, loopholes and entitlements, none of which they would pay for,” Kaine said. “Today, well, you see what they’re pushing. They’re pushing budget-busting tax cuts and economy-busting spending cuts. To pay for their plan, they’d raise taxes on the middle class. They’d turn Medicare into a voucher system. And rather than raise taxes on the wealthy by even one penny, they’d put thousands of defense jobs at risk.”
That last line was a reference to the “sequestration” cuts looming in Washington, which would cut billions of dollars from defense and other areas of federal spending if congressional leaders don’t work out a deal to prevent them.
The cuts were part of a bipartisan deal last year to stave off a debt default, and Kaine supports that deal, although not the implementation of the actual cuts; his opponent, Republican George Allen, opposed the deal at the time as well as implementation of the cuts.
Kaine cast Republican rule as something America “can’t afford” to return to.
“We need to move forward,” he said. “Because while we’ve made progress, we still have a long way to go. We’ll only get there if we elect leaders who put results ahead of ideology.”
He said President Obama is such a leader, listing as promises kept the end of the war in Iraq, drawing down troops in Afghanistan, killing Osama bin Laden, and reforming health care.
“He promised he’d fight for equal pay for women, college affordability for students and fair treatment for LGBT Americans—and he’s kept his word,” Kaine said. “Our president, President Obama, is a tough leader who gets results for the American public.”
Kaine, a former Virginia governor and now Senate candidate, is running against another former governor, Allen, in this fall’s election. Allen did not attend the Republican convention in Tampa last week.
The Allen campaign used Kaine’s speech to reiterate its longstanding portrayal of Kaine as a partisan “absentee governor,” an accusation that stems from Kaine’s decision to take the political role of chairman of the Democratic National Committee during his last year as governor, after President Obama’s election in 2008.
“Tim Kaine is right at home with Democrat party loyalists praising him for championing President Obama’s failed tax, borrow and spend agenda while leaving Virginians behind,” said Allen spokeswoman Emily Davis in a statement critical of Kaine’s gubernatorial record, sent out before Kaine’s speech. “As governor, Tim Kaine chose to Chair the Democratic National Committee instead of focusing his sole attention on Virginians struggling to find jobs, afford college and make ends meet. Virginians can’t afford six more years of Tim Kaine putting Democrats’ Washington agenda ahead of Virginians.”
The Democrats’ convention runs through Thursday night, when Obama will speak in Charlotte.
Chelyen Davis: 540/368-5028