Virginia Senator-elect Tim Kaine
Kaine talks about compromise, sequestration and his hopes for the Senate.
WASHINGTON - When former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine heads to Washington in January to join the U.S. Senate, he's got one thing on his mind: compromise.
Kaine doesn't mean compromise in a general sense. He's got specific proposals he'd like to discuss that he thinks both parties could agree with.
"I think the more specific we are, the farther we'll get," Kaine told WTOP on Friday. "We need to find compromised positions, because neither side is going to walk over to the other and say, 'Well, you know what, now we completely agree with you.'"
Kaine says his first priority is solving the nation's budget problems and avoiding sequestration.
"Here's the deal, we're spending about $3.7 trillion a year, we're bringing in about $2.5 trillion in taxes. We've got to close that gap," he says. "We don't have to close it tomorrow, but we've got to get on a path to close that gap.
"I have maintained that we ought to be making $2 or $3 in cuts for every dollar in revenue, but we definitely need revenue. In the short term, I have proposed a very specific plan to avoid the pain of sequester."
First, Kaine says he would like to see Congress allow the Bush tax cuts expire for the first dollar of income over $500,000 -- which he calls a compromise between the Democrat position of $250,000 and the Republican position of making the cuts permanent.
Second, he says Medicare should be altered so that prescription drug pricing can be negotiated.
And third, subsidies should no longer be given to the top five oil companies, "Because they don't need our help. They're extremely profitable," he says.
"If you do those three things, you take the trillion dollar sequester over ten years and you whittle it down to the point where what you need to find is $230 billion of targeted savings over ten years, spread across all the things that the federal government does," Kaine says.
Kaine hopes President Barack Obama will lay out a specific plan to avoid sequestration when he speaks to the nation at 1 p.m. on Friday.
"I think, frankly, if Congress by year end can take a step to avoid these drastic sequestration cuts that will hurt the economy and hurt defense and other important priorities, that would create a sense of confidence and optimism that can springboard forward into a more comprehensive budget deal early in the next term of Congress," he says.
When Kaine takes office, one of his first priorities will be bridge-building, he says.
"That's been a Senate tradition," he says. "We've got to add more people to the number of senators who are willing to be part of these bipartisan gangs, and I'd love to be a part of that."
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