Over the weekend, the New York Times noticed George Allen has leaned into the looming sequestration cuts as a campaign issue, even though he has failed to offer a specific, realistic plan to avoid the cuts. In fact, the only solutions he has floated would actually increase the deficit, making the problem worse. Instead of offering solutions to avoid these damaging cuts, Allen has tried to score political points. Tim Kaine, on the other hand, has proposed a specific solution that mitigates sequestration by dealing with the Bush tax cuts, fixing Medicare to reduce prescription prices, and ending big oil subsidies. This balanced approach of compromise solutions is exactly what Virginians want.
Here is the key excerpt from the New York Times:
"In an interview, Mr. Allen said, “The responsible thing to do is to propose a way to avert these cuts.” But at the debate, he spoke generally about how to head off the defense cuts while maintaining deficit reduction targets.
"His suggestions: repeal the Obama health care law, although the Congressional Budget Office said a repeal would raise the deficit; expand domestic energy production on federal lands and use royalties to reduce the deficit; and put into effect a voluntary flat tax, which households could choose instead of the existing tax code. That, too, would most likely expand the deficit as taxpayers opted for the tax that saved them money."
Virginia Republican Adopts Cuts in Defense as His Issue
By Jonathan Weisman, New York Times
September 22, 2012
STAFFORD, Va. — Just outside the gates of the storied Quantico Marine Base,, the Republican nominee for a Senate seat from Virginia, sat down in the offices of a moving van company with more than a dozen defense contractors from his state last Monday to listen to them fret over government spending cuts.
Scott Hirons’s small software firm will probably have to shrink to five employees from 15 by the end of October if nothing is done to head off automatic, across-the-board defense cuts, he said. The cuts will not begin until January, if ever, but the threat alone has already frozen the contracting world, Mr. Hirons said. John Radziszewski worried not just about spending cuts but also about the Pentagon’s recent moves to “in-source” work to government research labs to save money.
“I personally could never imagine voting for something so devastating to our national security and jobs in Virginia,” said Mr. Allen, a former senator seeking to regain the seat he lost six years ago to Jim Webb, a Democrat, who is retiring.
In an election year when thehas set itself up as a paragon of small government and the scourge of federal debt, Mr. Allen is taking a different tack. He has made opposition to the bipartisan deficit reduction law of 2011 the centerpiece of his campaign. In Virginia, home to thousands of defense contractors ringing the Pentagon and vast military bases around Norfolk, Mr. Allen is seen as the Old Dominion’s version of Senator Pothole — as former Senator Alfonse M. D’Amato, Republican of New York, was known for his attention to local issues.
It is a delicate target. After all, the Budget Control Act was written to end a Republican-made standoff over raising the nation’s statutory borrowing limit. It passed with the votes of the entire Republican leadership, including Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House majority leader, and Senator John McCain of Arizona, the senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. One person who did not vote for it was Mr. Allen’s Democratic opponent, former Gov., who has never held a seat in Congress.
But in what may still be the closest Senate contest in the country, Mr. Allen believes he has found an issue he can ride back to Washington. A recent round of polls suggests that Mr. Kaine has opened his first real lead of the contest. That has pushed Mr. Allen to press his case against the defense cuts even harder.
“These folks really regret doing it,” Mr. Allen said of fellow Republicans and their votes. “Tim Kaine thinks it was the right thing to do. That’s beyond me.”
Mr. Allen faces two risks. For one, the more he presses his case against the automatic defense cuts, the more opportunities Mr. Kaine has to demand a specific Allen program of deficit reduction to replace those cuts. For another, conservatives are questioning the fiscal bona fides of Republicans trying to undo the automatic cuts, which are known as sequestration.
Chris Chocola, the president of the conservative political action committee Club for Growth, has been urging Republican candidates to stand by $1 trillion in additional spending cuts. “I need to see some sign that Congress is willing to do something really hard,” he said. “Sequestration is really hard, but they said they were going to do it.”
The automatic cuts are the ugly result of the showdown last year over raising the nation’s statutory borrowing limit. A potentially crippling default was averted only after House Republicans and President Obama agreed to 10 years of caps on federal programs at the annual discretion of Congress. Moreover, a special committee was established to find an additional $1 trillion to cut over 10 years. If it failed, the cuts — half in defense, half in domestic programs — would kick in.
It failed, and as the deadline for the cuts approaches, a blame game has begun. House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio on Friday again labeled it “the president’s defense sequester.” Representative Gerald E. Connolly, Democrat of Virginia, called that “monstrously cynical,” since the cuts were “100 percent their creation.”
“It’s like a man who kills his mother and father and throws himself on the mercy of the court because he’s an orphan,” he said.
At a debate in Northern Virginia on Thursday, both Senate candidates jumped into the issue almost immediately, but they took very different approaches.
In an interview, Mr. Allen said, “The responsible thing to do is to propose a way to avert these cuts.” But at the debate, he spoke generally about how to head off the defense cuts while maintaining deficit reduction targets.
His suggestions: repeal the Obama, although the Congressional Budget Office said a repeal would raise the deficit; expand domestic energy production on federal lands and use royalties to reduce the deficit; and put into effect a voluntary flat tax, which households could choose instead of the existing tax code. That, too, would most likely expand the deficit as taxpayers opted for the tax that saved them money.
Mr. Allen also suggested that Congress start with a bill, already passed by the House, that would cancel the first year of automatic defense cuts by shifting the cuts to domestic programs. But last Monday, when asked if he was endorsing that House measure, he would not commit.
“I haven’t had a chance to look at every detail of it,” he said, “but if I were in the Senate I’d be saying let’s look at this.”
What Mr. Allen said he would not do was raise taxes. “The men and women in our armed forces should never be used as bargaining chips to raise taxes on job-creating small businesses,” he said.
Mr. Kaine proposed letting theexpire on incomes over $500,000, which he said would raise $500 billion; repealing tax breaks for oil and gas companies, to raise $24 billion; and allowing the federal government to bargain for lower prescription drug prices for , for a $240 billion savings. That would leave Congress to find $250 billion in spending cuts over 10 years to avert all the automatic cuts, defense and domestic.
“We have to have shared sacrifice,” Mr. Kaine said. “Everybody has to be in the game if we are going to solve our budget issues.”
As Republicans grow more nervous about the defense cuts, some conservatives fear that the party is preparing to cave — either by agreeing to raise taxes or by simply canceling the cuts. On National Review’s Web site last week, Veronique de Rugy, a conservative economist, wrote that even if the automatic cuts were carried out, overall military spending would continue to increase. Republicans who want to stop the cuts, she asserted, are falling into Democratic thinking that the government must prop up employment.
“The Department of Defense is not a jobs program,” she wrote. “Its role isn’t to sustain defense contractors’ profits independently of the security they are actually meant to provide.”
Here in Virginia, where defense contractors make up a substantial chunk of the economy, such ideals may not fly. Mr. Allen’s campaign has received nearly $89,000 from the defense industry, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics; Mr. Kaine’s campaign has received nearly $70,000.
For now, many defense contractors are sticking with Mr. Allen. Mr. Radziszewski, the executive vice president of the software unit of QinetiQ North America, here in Stafford, said he trusted the Republican to bargain in good faith on behalf of the state’s contractors once he returned to the Senate.
But Mr. Radziszewski also delivered a message to the man he says he will vote for. Everything has to be on the table, taxes, domestic spending, even defense.
“The thing that keeps me awake is the bipartisan bickering,” he told Mr. Allen. “There’s the right wing. There’s the left wing. But the answer is always in the middle.”