George Allen on Tuesday unveiled the most detailed set of policy proposals yet in his campaign for the U.S. Senate, calling for broad cuts in taxes, spending and regulation across the federal government.
Allen – the former Virginia governor and senator – is now running for the Republican nomination to succeed retiring Sen. James Webb (D). Allen is widely considered the frontrunner in a crowded GOP field, with the winner of that primary likely to face ex-Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D).
Appearing in Richmond at Transfield Services, a transportation firm, Allen released the “Blueprint for America’s Comeback” – a 12-page glossy brochure full of proposals that mostly echo mainstream Republican policy thinking. His plan includes calls for lower taxes, a cap on federal spending, increased oil drilling and the repeal of President Obama’s health-care plan.
“America’s open for business, with competitive economic policies,” Allen said in a phone interview Tuesday, describing the goals of his plan as “reducing taxes, regulating the regulators [and] unleashing American energy resources.”
Specifically, Allen calls for:
• Reducing the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, and creating “a tax code that is more fair and simple, including a Flat Tax option for individual taxpayers.” He proposes “eliminating or modifying credits, deductions and special carve-outs that have Washington picking winners and losers.” But Allen does not say how he would deal with specific, popular deductions like those for mortgage interest and college tuition.
• “Reversing current counterproductive energy policies.” Allen would take away the EPA’s authority to regulate carbon emissions. He would allow states, including Virginia, to engage in oil and gas exploration off their shores. And he would promote production of coal-based methane and shale natural gas.
• Implementing a balanced budget constitutional amendment, a line-item veto, and a limit on government spending to 19 percent of GDP. Allen would impose a government hiring freeze and “[u]se attrition to reduce the federal workforce,” a significant step given how many Virginians are on the federal payroll.
• Repealing Obama’s health-care plan and replacing it with “personal, affordable health-care opportunities,” including Health Savings Accounts.
Notably, Allen says “we must make needed improvements to preserve Medicare for current and future seniors and protect the program from going broke.” But the plan still does not directly address whether he supports House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) controversial proposal to change Medicare for people currently 55 or under to a system that provides federal subsidies for the purchase or private insurance plans.
Allen declined to say whether his plan would keep Medicare as a program where the government directly paid for health care, or become a Ryan-like subsidy program. “That’s to be determined,” Allen said.
Because Allen is not a sitting member of the Senate, he is not able to ask the Congressional Budget Office to evaluate how his combination of tax and spending cuts would affect the federal budget deficit. But he made the traditional conservative case in favor of his tax proposals.
“If you do reduce the tax rates on job creators we’ve seen … you end up with tax revenue increases fro m the expanded base of businesses,” Allen said. He also argued that his energy policy proposals would boost government revenue.
The blueprint touts Allen record of creating jobs and reforming Virginia government when he served as governor, but makes little mention of his one term in the Senate.