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 front-runner in a crowded GOP field, with the winner of that primary likely to face former governor Timothy M. Kaine (D).
Allen’s “Blueprint for America’s Comeback” — a 12-page glossy brochure — mostly echoes mainstream Republican policy thinking. It includes calls for a cap on federal spending, increased oil drilling and the repeal of President Obama’s health-care law.
“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 “eliminating or modifying [tax] credits, deductions and special carve-outs that have Washington picking winners and losers.” But Allen does not say how he would deal with popular deductions, including 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.
• Implementing a balanced-budget constitutional amendment, a line-item veto and a limit on government spending to 19 percent of the gross domestic product. Allen would reduce the federal workforce through a hiring freeze and attrition, a significant step given how many Virginians are on the federal payroll.
• Repealing Obama’s health-care law and replacing it with “personal, affordable health-care opportunities,” including health savings accounts.
Notably, Allen said, “we must make needed improvements to preserve Medicare for current and future seniors and protect the program from going broke.” But the plan does not directly address whether he supports the controversial proposal by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to turn Medicare for people currently 55 or under into a system that provides federal subsidies for the purchase of 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.
The blueprint touts Allen’s record of creating jobs and reforming Virginia government but makes little mention of his one term in the Senate, when some of these issues came up for votes.
Allen’s new plan would ban earmarks and automatic raises for members of Congress, a reversal of his positions when he served in the Senate.
Allen’s opponents have seized on that tenure.
“Voters have already seen George Allen’s ‘blueprint’ for America during his six years in the U.S. Senate and don’t need to see anymore,” said Kaine campaign spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine, adding that Allen had “voted to explode the national debt, privatize social security and build an economy so unstable that it nearly collapsed.”
Similarly, Jamie Radtke, the former Virginia Tea Party Patriots leader running against Allen in the GOP primary, suggested that the blueprint was hypocritical because Allen had taken budget-busting votes in the Senate.
“You have a guy who helped put the holes in the boat, and now he has a plan to keep the boat from sinking,” Radtke said.