Chairman Kaine Says Republicans `Overreaching' on Health-Care Law Repeal
The chairman of the Democratic National Committee, former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, said Republicans overreached in their opposition to the health-care overhaul, giving President Barack Obama a chance to reframe the debate in his State of the Union address with an emphasis on the economy and deficit control.
“He’s going to talk about the path of the recovery, but the need to accelerate it, especially with respect to hiring and employment,” Kaine said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend. The president will also discuss “how to deal with the deficit and how to deal with it responsibly, but without choking off the nascent economic recovery.”
House Republicans, who gained 63 seats in the November elections to win control of that chamber, were “overreaching” in their Jan. 19 vote to repeal Obama’s health-care legislation because doing so would increase the deficit and deny tax credits to small businesses, Kaine said.
“They broke their deficit pledge,” he said. “They broke their business pledge.”
Obama, who will deliver his State of the Union address to a politically divided Congress on Jan. 25, will emphasize the steps his administration has taken to bolster the economy and put them in an “overall framework,” Kaine said.
“We’ve done a series of important things, but we haven’t necessarily connected them all together and demonstrated that these are all part of a necessary path to sustainable economic growth in the aftermath of the collapse,” he said. “And I think you’ll see the president both talk about policies and programs, but connect them together.”
On the issue of U.S. relations with China, Kaine said that Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visits with Obama and with business leaders this week emphasized the “pivotal relationship between two nations in the world for the next generation, perhaps longer.”
Relations between the two countries, with more than $400 billion in annual trade, are complicated by disagreements on issues including human rights, China’s enforcement of intellectual-property rights and what U.S. officials say is the artificially low value of China’s currency.
Kaine said that progress is being made slowly on intellectual-property concerns and that the currency issues “remain very, very challenging.”
He said economic and security interests with China come first over concerns about human-rights abuses.
No ‘Guarantor’ of Rights
“We can’t be the guarantor of human rights anywhere in the world outside our own borders,” Kaine said. “Nevertheless, we set a strong human-rights example, and it’s important that the president continue to raise that in all settings. But economic and security interests are primary.”
Kaine, who was Virginia’s governor in 2007 when a gunman killed 32 people on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, said he supports gun-control legislation to ban the type of ammunition clip used in the Jan. 8 Arizona shooting rampage that wounded 13 people, including Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords, and killed six.
“I have long been a supporter of what I think are, you know, reasonable regulations,” he said.
Kaine said Obama will follow his State of the Union address with a budget plan in February. It may include ideas from a proposal by the president’s debt-reduction panel that would have cut the deficit from last year’s $1.3 trillion to about $420 billion in 2015, he said.
‘Serious’ About Deficit
“I think he’ll say to Congress, ‘You say you’re serious about the deficit? I am, too. I’ve put it in a budget, and now let’s figure out how we’re going to get there,’” Kaine said.
Kaine said that as more Americans experience the benefits of the health-care law, designed to extend insurance coverage to 32 million people who lack it, efforts to dismantle it will grow increasingly unpopular.
“The Republicans did that vote, I guess, to appease some aspect of their base, but they’re going to drop it and move on to other issues,” he said.
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