April 13, 2011 - 5:17 pm

BY WESLEY P. HESTER

Within minutes of President Obama’s speech on deficit reduction Wednesday, Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins was asking for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine’s thoughts.

"President Obama’s speech today leaves no doubt about how he plans to deal with our country’s massive fiscal problems - higher taxes that will cripple job growth, penalize  hard working Americans and make our economic recovery more difficult,” he said.

Mullins took the opportunity to point out Kaine’s tax increase proposals as governor.

“Since President Obama took a page out of Tim Kaine’s playbook and is proposing to address our national deficit by raising taxes, does Tim Kaine’s stand behind his own record?  Will he support President Obama’s efforts to raise taxes?”

Republican candidate George Allen issues a statement of a similar tenor, also taking aim at Kaine.

“Unlike my opponent, I will not blindly support the president, especially when he calls for tax increases that will fuel Washington sending as it cripples the still struggling economy,” Allen said.

“Checks and balances are desperately needed in Washington to ensure we all have a voice – and that it is finally heard,” he continued. “Only then can we be sure that Washington starts listening and stops defending and advocating for the status quo that has our country on the verge of bankruptcy.”

Asked for his take, Kaine said that the president had ”laid out a strong proposal…far preferable to a House proposal that would would weaken key programs like Medicare and jeopardize the recovery.”

But Kaine said he was most hopeful about the debt and deficit reduction package beingshaped by the bipartisan “Gang of Six” in the Senate, including Sen. Mark R. Warner, D-Va.

"The good faith dialogue that Senator Warner and others are engaged in is far preferable to a strategy of brinksmanship where threats of government shutdown and default on financial obligations are used as political leverage," Kaine said.