- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 4, 2012

RICHMOND — U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine on Wednesday rolled out specifics of his economic agenda, as Republicans worked to undercut the message by linking him to proposed federal regulations on carbon emissions they say will cripple southwest Virginia’s coal industry.

The 20-page pamphlet titled “A Vision for Our Economic Future” emphasizes investments in infrastructure as well as early childhood education and serves as a counterweight to the plan released last June by Mr. Kaine’s likely opponent, George Allen, dubbed “A Blueprint for America’s Comeback.”

Mr. Allen’s plan calls for saving money through cutting an estimated $50 billion in waste from Medicare, turning Medicaid into a block program for states, and requiring a constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget, among other items.

Mr. Kaine said Wednesday that for every two-to-three dollars in spending cuts, there should be a dollar of revenue increases. To that end, he has proposed letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire for those earning more than $500,000 per year.

“There’s no way to close this just through spending cuts,” he said.

Mr. Kaine and Sen. Mark R. Warner barnstormed the state Wednesday, making stops in Norfolk, Northern Virginia and Richmond. Mr. Kaine served as lieutenant governor while Mr. Warner was governor from 2002 to 2006 and succeeded him in office from 2006 to 2010. He went on to become chairman of the Democratic National Committee under President Obama before announcing his Senate bid.

Mr. Allen, meanwhile, was busy campaigning in Culpeper and Madison. His campaign manager, Mike Thomas, derided Mr. Kaine’s plan.

“It took a year, but Chairman Tim Kaine has finally put on paper what Virginia families already knew — he wants to raise taxes on families and small businesses; supports counterproductive energy policies which allow Washington to pick the winners and losers; wants more failed stimulus spending and thinks Obamacare is a great achievement, which puts heavy burdens and mandates on individuals and small businesses alike,” he said.

Mr. Kaine’s message was also somewhat pre-empted by Republican legislators representing southwest Virginia, who blasted recently proposed regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that would effectively prevent the building of new coal power plants. The rules would require new plants to emit a maximum of 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour but would not apply to currently operating plants or new-permit plants that start construction over the next 12 months.

The prospect would be devastating to the economy of southwest Virginia, said Rep. H. Morgan Griffith.

“The economy down here cannot afford to take these kinds of hits,” he said.

Mr. Griffith, Virginia Republican, also took a subtle swipe at Mr. Obama, saying he was concerned the president and EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson would be “a little more flexible” after the November election and apply the regulations to existing plants, not just new ones.

Mr. Obama was recently recorded when he thought microphones were off telling Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he would have “more flexibility” after November’s election to address the country’s missile defense plans.

The League of Conservation Voters, Mom’s Clean Air Force, and the Environmental Defense Fund are involved in a new seven-figure ad purchase in Washington, D.C. and several swing states — Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania — in support of the new regulations.

The emphasis on energy is no accident. With gas prices reaching $4 a gallon in many areas across the country, Republicans, including Mr. Allen, have seized on the issue, ensuring it will stay front and center through the November elections.

Mr. Kaine said he “definitely” has concerns with the new rules but that the wrong approach would be to say that yesterday’s standards are adequate, and he chides Mr. Allen for ridiculing alternative energy sources including geothermal, solar and wind.

“I think virtually every American would say that every plant tomorrow should be cleaner than plants that were built yesterday,” he said. “We’re closer to energy independence today than when George Allen was a senator. This country is embracing an all-of-the-above energy approach.”

But Garren Shipley, a spokesman for the Republican Party of Virginia, said Mr. Kaine will be desperate to talk about anything else as the campaign moves forward.

Tim Kaine and Barack Obama are right beside each other on these energy issues,” he said. “Tim Kaine cannot run away from energy.”



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