On a day when President Obama’s budget blueprint for 2012 couldn’t garner a single vote of symbolic support in the Senate, former Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) would not say how he would have voted if he were in the chamber.
Kaine — the former Democratic National Committee chairman -- is running for the seat of retiring Sen. James Webb (D-Va.), most likely against ex-Sen. George Allen (R), and budget issues are proving to be tricky for both candidates.
Wednesday evening, the Senate voted on a controversial budget plan passed by House Republicans that would change Medicare for future retirees. The measure was brought to the floor by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for the purpose of putting the Senate GOP on the spot. Forty Republicans voted for it while five opposed it, but Allen has declined to say how he would have voted.
Similarly, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) brought Obama’s budget submission to the floor Wednesday evening to force Democrats into a difficult position. Not a single Democrat — or Republican or independent — ended up backing it, though Democrats argue that it is out of date because Obama later gave a speech proposing a different spending framework.
How would Kaine — a close personal and political ally of Obama’s --have voted Wednesday? It’s not clear.
“Governor Kaine has said the President’s plan is far better than the Ryan plan which eliminates Medicare as we know it,” said campaign spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine. “The good news is that there is a bipartisan effort to come up with a third plan, led by Senator [Mark] Warner. Governor Kaine is eager to see what they release and believes that a bipartisan approach is the only way to achieve a plan that both parties can support.”
In February, when Obama unveiled his budget and Kaine was still DNC chairman, Kaine called the plan “a blueprint for success” that “does not shy away from the reality of America’s difficult fiscal situation.”