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Tim Kaine trying to be optimistic about progress toward debt-ceiling deal

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Political leaders appear to be inching toward a deal in the politically-manufactured debt-ceiling controversy, enough that Tim Kaine, a Democrat who represents Virginia in the U.S. Senate, is cautiously optimistic that a deal will get done.

“We’re waiting to see details, but the positive comments of all of the principles involved in the discussion, I think, should create some reasonable grounds for optimism. That’s number one, the most important item now,” Kaine told reporters on a conference call on Thursday.

Yeah, that’s about as cautious as one can be to still be considered cautiously optimistic, but it’s what we’ve got from Kaine, who is still clearly frustrated, as a number of Democrats and some Senate Republicans are, that House Republicans are, once again, using the debt ceiling as a cudgel to try to score political points.

Congress voted three times in the Donald Trump presidency to raise the debt ceiling with no objections from Republicans, as Trump-era budgets added nearly $8 trillion to the national debt, more than 25 percent of the total debt in our nation’s 234-year history, in his mere four years in the White House.

But now all of the sudden, Republicans are back to being budget and debt hawks, and trying to pretend that it’s not because there’s a Democrat in the Oval Office.

The key date to keep in mind with respect to possible debt default is June 1, which is two weeks away. Kaine pointed out that the Senate is not in session next week, so the earliest that a deal could get a final vote of approval would be after Memorial Day, which, yes, is cutting it mighty close.

The senator then offered the kind of analysis that you’d expect from a cable-news pundit, if cable-news pundits actually knew what they were talking about.

“Here’s where I think this might be going. I think you might see a lift of the debt ceiling for some significant period of time, some budgetary commitments that would maybe be a little bit conceptual, but that would shape the appropriations discussion that is ongoing, that will continue to play out over the course of the next months into the fall.

“So, there might be an agreement upon, you know, the top line of what the budget would be, or other agreements whose details get filled in then as we go through the appropriations process. And then we’re also hearing that there might be appetite for some longer-term reform.

“So, you know, long-term commitments of members of Congress and outside stakeholders to look at spending and revenue, deficits and debt with a report back to Congress, and possibly, as was the case with Simpson-Bowles, done nearly 15 years ago, report back to Congress, some kind of up-or-down vote on that report.

“This is just what I’m picking up, and what my intuition tells me could be coming,” Kaine said.

Based on that analysis, Kaine is taking a very much wait-and-see approach.

“Rather than say, I would accept this cut, not that cut, or I would accept this cut, but only a certain level and not more, I want to give the leaders and the White House the ability to do their best job to reach an agreement that’s good for the American economy that avoids default,” Kaine said. “I’m sure I’m gonna have questions, obviously, about the details, but I don’t want to put a lot of red lines down on the table. I want them to do their work, and then I’m anxious to see what they come up with.”

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham, the king of "fringe media," is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].