Allen, Kaine spar over debt ceiling

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As the seemingly never-ending debate over increasing the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling rages on Capitol Hill, U.S. Senate candidates George Allen and Tim Kaine are taking different tacks on how to go about fixing the problem.

Mr. Kaine said that, while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s plan to increase the debt ceiling by $2.7 trillion falls short of a balanced approach, he advocates both spending cuts and new revenues through closing tax loopholes and allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire to rein in the national debt.

“In the interest of protecting our economy, Governor Kaine would support Senator Reid’s approach over the Boehner plan because it does more to reduce the deficit and has a better chance of preventing a credit rating downgrade nationally and in Virginia,” said Brandi Hoffine, a spokeswoman for the Democratic former governor.

House Speaker John Boehner’s proposal to increase it by $900 billion, meanwhile, would not require a balanced budget amendment to be implemented for the debt ceiling to increase — which was not acceptable to Mr. Allen, a Republican.

“George Allen believes that any solution to the debt crisis must include ironclad spending cuts, enforceable caps on spending and a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution,” said Allen spokesman Bill Riggs. “We will not support any approach that does not include a balanced budget amendment or delays decisions on spending cuts until after the debt ceiling has been raised. Washington cannot be trusted to police itself and rein in the explosion of government spending we’ve seen in the last three years. A balanced budget amendment with ironclad spending cuts is the only long-term solution that will bring accountability to Washington and force the federal government to get spending under control. None of the plans currently being discussed accomplish these goals.”

But even members of Mr. Allen’s own party, including Sen. John McCain of Arizona, have said that a vote on a balanced budget was not in the cards, given the current makeup in the majority-Democrat Senate.

A showdown vote on Mr. Boehner’s plan is expected later Thursday. Both would establish a special congressional panel to weigh additional spending cuts in the fall.

Unless Congress acts by Aug. 2, the administration says that it will not have enough money to pay down its bills.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell issued a statement Thursday urging Congress to support Mr. Boehner’s debt ceiling plan.

“It it critical that the United States Congress immediately pass the best possible bill that will resolve the ongoing debt limit impasse. It would be catastrophic for the United States, and for Virginia, if we defaulted on our obligations. For far too long, Congress has overspent and now the bills are due. Washington must start doing what governors are doing around the country — making serious cuts to get their fiscal houses in order. Speaker Boehner’s bill cuts spending, doesn’t raise taxes and ensures that we do not default on our debt. I urge the members of Congress, including Virginia’s delegation, to vote in support of this measure.”

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