Kaine urges Obama, Dems to compromise with GOP on 'cliff'

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Local,Virginia,Steve Contorno

RICHMOND, Va. -- Democratic Sen.-elect Tim Kaine on Thursday implored President Obama and Democrats to compromise with congressional Republicans to avoid taking the country over the "fiscal cliff" in January.

"Neither side is going to walk over to the other and say, 'You know what, you're right. We're going to do it exactly the way you said,' " Kaine told reporters at a daylong gathering hosted by the Associated Press. "So you have to find that middle ground."

Kaine sounded an alarm over the Obama administration's claim that it was willing to go over the fiscal cliff -- allowing massive tax increases and spending cuts to take effect in January -- if congressional Republicans refuse to meet the president's demands, chief among them a tax increase for those earning more than $250,000 a year.

Kaine, who led the Democratic Party under Obama, said even a temporary deal that only delays the threat of the fiscal cliff is preferable to no deal.

Obama could move closer to a compromise by agreeing to raise taxes only on those earning at least $500,000 a year, said Kaine. He offered a nod of approval to a Republican proposal that would raise new revenues by capping income tax deductions rather than raising tax rates.

"As part of a larger discussion about the longer-term deal, I think that's a good thing to do," Kaine said.

Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, cautioned that the uncertainty surrounding deficit-reduction negotiations in Washington is severely hampering his ability to craft a budget proposal for the upcoming General Assembly session. He said he'll submit a bill that assumes the worst and make adjustments after seeing what Congress and the White House agree to.

"Even if [federal cuts] are eliminated and replaced in some way, even if these cliff issues are resolved, there is going to be less money coming from the federal government to every state in the country," McDonnell said. "And Virginia will be disproportionately affected because we are a disproportionate recipient [of federal money]."

Offering few details, McDonnell said he'll propose to the legislature a plan that raises $500 million a year for roads and legislation requiring teachers to be evaluated, two proposals that failed in this year's legislative session.

"Legislators deserve the right to be smarter today than they were yesterday," McDonnell said. "It's a different year."

scontorno@washingtonexaminer.com

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