Allen touts ‘blueprint’ aimed at jobs, waste

Pitches Medicaid block fund, flat tax

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U.S. Senate candidate George Allen on Tuesday released a list of ideas he says will create jobs, reduce dependence on foreign oil and pare back the federal government.

Dubbed the “Blueprint for America’s Comeback” and released four months after he announced his candidacy, the Virginia Republican’s plan leaves out many of the more controversial aspects of a budget drawn by Rep. Paul Ryan and approved by the House in April. While Mr. Allen has voiced support for the budget proposed by the Wisconsin Republican, he declined to say whether he would have voted for the spending plan.

Mr. Allen’s plan includes a few specific ideas for reforming entitlement programs, like cutting an estimated $50 billion in waste from Medicare and turning Medicaid into a block grant for states. It doesn’t include any mention of Mr. Ryan’s proposals to convert Medicare into a voucher system and raise the retirement age to 70.

Conspicuously absent from Mr. Allen’s plan is mention of Social Security — a program that comprises 20 percent of the federal budget.

While Mr. Allen said he left out Social Security because Medicaid and Medicare are the biggest areas of spending, together with the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Medicaid and Medicare take up 21 percent of the federal budget.

“I was focusing on issues that would create more jobs and greater opportunity in our country — the key drivers in the spending area,” Mr. Allen told The Washington Times.

As he has done since beginning his campaign, Mr. Allen called for repealing the controversial health care reform bill passed by Congress last year. His plan also called for defunding the bill until the Supreme Court reviews its constitutionality and offering more opportunities for Americans to set up individual health savings accounts.

Mr. Allen said he would promote a flat tax option, eliminate the estate “death” tax, cap federal spending at 19 percent of gross domestic product and reduce discretionary spending to 2008 levels. He said he also wants to reduce the corporate income tax from 35 percent to 20 percent — 5 percent lower than the rate suggested by Mr. Ryan. That’s because America’s rate should be lower than the global average of 25 percent for industrialized countries, he said.

“I don’t think America should be average,” Mr. Allen said. “I think America should be better than average.”

His energy platform includes allowing offshore drilling, ending the moratorium on issuing production permits in the Gulf of Mexico, developing natural gas and clean coal and building more nuclear plants.

Mr. Allen will likely face Democrat Tim Kaine next year in a highly anticipated matchup between two former Virginia governors. Mr. Allen is attempting to win back the Senate seat he lost in 2006 to Sen. Jim Webb, a Democrat.

Kaine spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine shot back at Mr. Allen’s plan, saying his promises of fiscal conservatism aren’t reflected in the Senate record he left behind.

“As senator, Allen mortgaged the nation’s financial health to give tax breaks to millionaires and corporations already reaping billions in profits,” Ms. Hoffine said. “He voted to explode the national debt, privatize social security and build an economy so unstable that it nearly collapsed.”

Mr. Allen said he focused on reforms he sees as most crucial and relevant to his past experience.

“The ones I pointed out are the things I regard as most important,” he said. “I think I can persuade people based on my experience as governor when we led the nation in welfare reform, and I think I can speak from experience and knowledge.”

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