RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – With the threat of yet another government shutdown around the corner, republicans and democrats are staring each other down, this time bickering over funding for disaster relief - money that is needed here in Virginia. Joining me to talk more about this issue and his race for the U.S. Senate is former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine.
RYAN: Welcome tack to First at 4:00.
KAINE: Good to be to back with you, Ryan.
RYAN: Let's talk about this. Republicans have a deal on the table that would increase FEMA's funding by about $4 billion, but they have couched it with about a billion dollars in cuts to investment in green energy jobs. Why is it unreasonable to suggest if we're going to invest so much money in disaster relief that we bring back spending in other places, especially when our deficit problem is so large?
KAINE: Well, it's a bad idea for a couple reasons and it reminds me, in 2006, my two legislative houses couldn't agree on a budget, and it threatened to produce a government shutdown and I told Virginians, we're going to operate government, we're going to find an agreement, and we did. And government continued. Here's what's going on. The battle about disaster relief that is needed in Virginia is an important one and the tradition has always been, we help communities out that are hard hit by disasters and then we figure it out a year into of the budget how to pay for it. The House has taken a position, no, we're not going to give these communities disaster relief until we make expense cuts right now and they have proposed to cut an alternative energy program that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said last week as job creator and that cutting those funding -- cutting that funding would hurt American jobs. We shouldn't be pitting disaster relief victims against people who will be potentially unemployed if we cut economic development.
RYAN: Isn't there some disagreement over necessarily how successful these green job investment creation programs have been and aren't the republicans compromising to a certain degree because they're not asking for $4 billion in cuts for $4 billion in investment in FEMA. They've only asked for a billion.
KAINE: But look at what they're doing. They're not only saying we want to reduce this program that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says as job creator but they're also saying we're going to hold up approval of the operations of federal government unless we can agree on this in the next few days. There's no reason to put the operations of the federal government, a potential government shutdown on the table, to try to win an argument about a narrow spending item with respect to disaster recovery. They're playing politics with victims of disasters and playing politics with people who receive veteran's pensions and the payment of our military and economic development projects or unemployment compensation. There's no reason to link these issues. Should we be making expense cuts? Of course, we should. I cut more money out of the Virginia budget than anybody who's ever been governor and I know how to do it, but you don't put a single partisan issue in the midst of an issue about whether government should continue. We can work that out in time but we ought to be doing the disaster relief and operating federal government.
RYAN: This is just a small slice, it's less than 1% of the overall budget, but it represents a much bigger fight.
RYAN: As we go forward, where are you on the president's deficit reduction plan in particular? Your potential opponent, Governor Allen, has hit you hard saying that you're for tax increases...
KAINE: Yeah, he's completely misstated my position. Letting the Bush era tax cuts expire, even Grover Norquist has said, that's not a tax increase. The Bush tax cuts in the plan were made temporary, George Allen voted for them to be temporary and they were made temporary for one reason. If you make them permanent, they will completely explode the deficit, so here they are, they're temporary, they're set to expire at the end of 2012 and I have supported the element of the president's plan that would let those tax cuts expire at the top end. That's not voting for a tax increase. That piece of the plan I support. I also more broadly support the notion, the only way to deal with the deficit is to make cuts first like I did as governor and George Allen never cut anything, and second, find tax reform like letting these tax cuts expire at the top end and also taking away subsidies from big oil, the companies that don't need them.
RYAN: But capital gains taxes are on the table. Would you agree on expansion of the capital gains tax?
KAINE: I have not supported that provision. I have supported the expiration of the tax cuts, the temporary tax cuts as was originally planned as promised by George Allen, let them expire at the top end. I also believe we do need to take away some of the tax breaks and loopholes for big oil. I want the companies to be profitable, but they don't need our help.
RYAN: Governor Kaine, thank you for being here, I appreciate it.
KAINE: You bet, Ryan. Good to be with you.
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