What are women’s issues? Tim Kaine says they’re a lot more than the pro-life/pro-choice dichotomy that may be the first to come to mind. Speaking at a women’s town hall in Fairfax today, the former governor and U.S. Senate candidate said women’s issues are not separate from jobs and the economy.
“The issues that women face are not pro-life/pro-choice, they’re economic issues,” he said. “Whether your employer can deny you access to contraception, paycheck equity — these are bread and butter issues that affect families and women’s financial well-bring. ”
Kaine, a Democrat, was greeted by a large and supportive crowd at a Fairfax City community center. Fairfax County Supervisors Chairwoman Sharon Bulova introduced Kaine and credited him with rescuing the Metro to Dulles project after it had been rejected by the U.S. Transportation Department several years ago, when Kaine was governor.
“Gov. Tim Kaine not just stepped up but went to D.C. and met with Mary Peters (then the Secretary of Transportation) and explained to her gently, constructively why the decision to deny funding was wrong and why she should reconsider,” Bulova recalled. “He changed her mind, worked to bring back a major transportation project because of his willingness to work it out.”
Kaine pledged that if elected to the Senate, he would “fight to make Phase II a reality” by assuring adequate federal funding to complete construction of the Silver Line from Reston to Dulles.
“When you invest in infrastructure, you hire people today and that helps reduce unemployment and then you enjoy the fruits of their labor for 50 years,” Kaine said. “Eisenhower may have been the best president ever in terms of economic development because of the Interstate highway system.”
Kaine contrasted his approach of making strategic budget cuts while raising revenue and investing in key area to Republican candidate George Allen’s plans to reduce all spending sharply while keeping the Bush-era tax cuts in place.
Allen was in Alexandria today meeting with local business leaders, including Adnan Hamidi, owner of Alexandria Cupcake, who said the uncertain economy is scaring small business owners.
Asked about proposals to private Social Security and Medicare, Kaine said he is “completely against” privatization, calling it “fiscally reckeless.”
“Privatization undermines the very core of Social Security,” Kaine said. “The idea of Social Security is that working people chip in a little from their paycheck to support the people who raised them, who taught them and cared for them.
“The notion of privatization is that you don’t owe anything to anybody. It takes the social connection out and says, ‘Just do your own thing, don’t worry about the rest of the team.’”
Kaine conceded the need for periodic adjustments to Social Security and suggested that raising the payroll cap would be the easiest way to get the system back on track.
Kaine also criticized proposals to convert Medicare into a voucher program, suggesting that amounts to little more than shifting costs to the sickest and most vulnerable seniors.
“Rather than shift costs to seniors, why not reduce costs?” Kaine asked. “The federal government is now prohibited from negotiating with drug companies over the cost of prescription drugs. That’s crazy.”
Kaine said the Medicare program could save $25 billion annually if it got the same discount the Veterans Administration has negotiated with drug companies.