Former Governor and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine, on Tuesday, sat with twenty women at the Starkey Road Mill Mountain and Tea to discuss and listen to issues that were most important to them.
On the economy Kaine told them that there are things we have to do right away like ending unnecessary tax subsidies and letting the Bush era tax cuts expire. To sustain the economy he proposed a combination of “talent and balance.” Balance in budgeting and balance in politics in the form of compromise. On the growth side he advocated for infrastructure investment citing both roads and rail. “There is an anti-investment mentality right now” that is stifling that growth.
Small businesses have been hit by bank regulations following the 2008 financial collapse, he said. That has affected small local banks that lend to small businesses trying to expand. “We have to figure out a way to ease up on local lending regulations.”
His talent strategy is education based. “If you cut education when you’re suppose to be growing your economy you’re going to hurt yourself,” he said. Kaine called for a national commitment that includes Pre-K learning and college affordability. “Women have often had their talents discounted … We still have a ways to go on that,” said Kaine.
Kaine believes that the idea of balancing a budget with 100 percent cuts is flawed. “No one has ever cut their way to prosperity. If you just make cuts you’re not going to get better, you’re going to get weaker.” As an example he pointed to President Eisenhower, a Republican, who invested and built the interstate highway system following WWII.
Kaine said, his opponent (George Allen) “has taken a pledge of allegiance to Grover Norquist that says, ‘I will never raise any taxes – ever.’”
Kaine supports generating revenue by taking away unnecessary oil company tax subsidies and letting the Bush era tax cuts expire for the “top end” wage earners. Cuts will only hurt defense, federal college Pell Grants and seniors. He called Paul Ryan’s “radical” revisions to Medicare, “A cost shifter – not a cost reducer.”
Kaine said he would redirect oil subsidies to alternative energy. It will help the environment and help manufacturing, he said.
Brenda Hale, President of the NAACP Roanoke branch, said that “voter suppression” was a pressing concern to her. Kaine said, “So many states have magically decided to make it harder to vote – it’s only explained by one thing, people are trying to game the system to get an electoral advantage.”
The women became vocal when talk turned to wedge issues and women’s health. “There’s a reason why you call them wedge issues – they’re about pulling people apart rather than about bringing people together,” said Kaine.
Kaine pointed to George Allen’s support for a federal law referred to as “personhood” that defines life beginning at conception. “That would have huge consequences; potentially criminalizing FDA approved birth control.” It would also dramatically change laws that refer to “persons.” Allen, he said, would also repeal employer-mandated contraception. Kaine, as a Catholic, agreed with the adjustment made that offered contraceptive coverage directly to the employee rather than force it on the employer. “Having contraception actually reduces health care costs,” said Kaine with agreement from the women.
Allen and Kaine have distinct differences. As governor of Virginia, Kaine fought to retain funding to Planned Parenthood. He believes that, “Women should be trusted to make their own moral and health decisions … it shouldn’t be government making people’s moral decisions.”
In answer to a question about campaign donor disclosure by corporations and “Super PACs,” he said he would propose bills that would prohibit “secret money” and require shareholder votes before corporations could contribute.
The Senate has used filibusters to block or delay action and has frustrated Senators and produced government dysfunction. It takes 60 of 100 votes to break a filibuster. Instead of allowing arcane procedures to block floor votes, Kaine says the filibuster needs to revert back to its origins.
“For anyone to filibuster they should have to stand on the floor and actually filibuster.” Kaine said people could decide if it was obstruction or a person “trying to do the public good.” There should also be a rule that defines use of the filibuster to only a few big things that are important, he said.
When asked about marriage for same-sex couples, he said, “Legally we ought to treat committed couples the same way … They should be treated like everyone else. Churches should have the ability to make their own decisions as they have now. As a matter of law I believe treating couples equally is the right thing,” said Kaine.