Over the last week, likely Virginia Senate candidates George Allen and Tim Kaine have focused their campaigns on what pundits say will be the biggest issue in the 2012 elections: the economy.
Both Allen and Kaine spent the week jotting about to various small and medium sized businesses in Virginia. Sometime during all of that, they made time to speak with Patch about their economic plans.
Both Kaine and Allen are currently in the midst of their primary campaigns for their parties respective Senate tickets. Laking the statewide recognition of Allen and Kaine, their challengers are generally considered to be long shot candidates. Kaine is in a three way race against two other contenders, Courtney Lynch and Julien Modica. Allen is in a four way race agains E.W. Jackson, Sr., David McCormick and Jamie Radtke.
Allen: Lower Taxes, Less Regulations, More Fossil Fuels
In an interview at the Southpoint Steak and Shake in Spotsylvania County earlier this week, Allen argued that national demographic shifts prove that communities with laissez-faire economic policies attract businesses and residents.
"People in this country have been voting with their feet, going to where there's jobs, opportunities to provide for their families," said Allen, referencing recent census data showing an increase in southbound internal migration over the last decade.
Allen frames his economic proposal, dubbed the "Blueprint for America's Comeback" around familiar Republican talking points: lower taxes on businesses, increased fossil fuel exploration and extraction, and–among others–less robust environmental regulations over heavy industry.
Allen's economic plan outlines expanded off-shore oil exploration on the American seaboard and beyond. He also advocated taking further advantage of the nation's existing coal resources to meet energy needs.
Allen was less enthusiastic about nascent renewable energy sources such as wind farms and solar power.
"It doesn't generally meet the criteria for affordability at this point," said Allen. "Hopefully one day wind and photovoltaics, maybe in the future, meets that criteria."
Allen also wants to reduce the average business tax rate to an average of 20 percent.
On paper, business in the United States pay up to 35 percent in taxes, the second highest int the world, but a variety of loopholes and tax exemptions mean that many businesses pay much less than that.
"At least 75 countries have cut their corporate tax rates over the last four years as a means of attracting jobs and investment from high-tax nations like ours," reads Allen's economic manifesto. "Bringing our near 'worst in the world' rate back in line makes America more competitive."
Allen's economic plan also stresses reigning in environmental regulations enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency. Allen wants to end the moratorium on Gulf of Mexico drilling permits
The repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Car Act, the very last item in Allen's plan merits only two sentences, though it has been a major focal point of conservative outrage over the last two years.
Kaine: Develop Talent Economy
Kaine frames his economic focus on developing a "talent economy" in Virginia and across the nation.
Kaine's economic plan focuses on investments and reforms to existing workforce training programs and educational institutions to produce skilled workers needed in science and engineering.
Speaking by phone as he was campaigning in the Shenandoah Valley, Kaine highlighted a decline in the percentage of American's with a college degrees. He vowed to push for new investment in higher education with a focus on technical skill development.
"America was number one in the world for a very long time," said Kaine. "We're now number 16 in the world and we're slipping further."
In an interview with the News Virginian, Kaine also called for increased investment in workforce training for military veterans.
Kaine's economic platform advocates leveraging international business connections to drive business to Virginia and open up foreign markets to domestic goods. Part of this international effort includes pushing back against nations with trade barriers for US goods and lax intellectual-security law enforcement.
"We have to get serious with China and other nations that block the marketing of American goods through trade barriers, currency manipulation or piracy", reads Kaine's website.
He also called for a balance between regulations and taxation, and said he wants to keep taxes reasonably low.