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Kaine Returns to F.C. Community Center 2nd Time in 2 1/2 Weeks

Former Virginia Governor and current Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine made his second lengthy appearance in 18 days at the Falls Church Community Center Wednesday morning, meeting with a dozen articulate senior citizens to talk about Social Security, Medicare and a variety of pressing political issues.

kainefrontpicTIM KAINE, the former Virginia governor now running for the U.S. Senate made another major appearance at the Falls Church Community Center Wednesday morning, speaking to a group of senior citizens about Social Security, Medicare and other important issues. (Photo: News-Press)

Former Virginia Governor and current Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine made his second lengthy appearance in 18 days at the Falls Church Community Center Wednesday morning, meeting with a dozen articulate senior citizens to talk about Social Security, Medicare and a variety of pressing political issues.

The hour-and-half discussion was preceded by an introduction from Falls Church City Council member Ira Kaylin. On April 29, Kaine was the keynote speaker at the same Community Center for the local Democratic committee’s annual Jefferson Jackson Dinner. In January, Kaine was again in the City of Falls Church, engaged in an economic development conversation with Asian-American business leaders at the Eden Center.

It was a misnomer to identify Kaine’s audience yesterday as “senior citizens,” because their knowledge of the issues and articulate comments were those of alert citizens of any age. Their concerns, as well, were not limited to the impact of policy on the elderly, but spoke to the plight of the young, slapped with student loan debt, and those struggling in underpaying jobs.

Kaine delivered an upbeat opening, saying, “We’re tough enough to figure things out, and noting how Social Security has been “the most successful domestic program ever in the U.S., in need occasionally of minor adjustments.”

Before Social Security was implemented in the 1930s, he pointed out, 80 percent of elderly Americans lived below the poverty level. Now it is only 10 percent. He said the key to its success is exactly what its opponents don’t like. It is grounded in an “inter-generational responsibility,” he noted, and when opponents call it a “Ponzi scheme,” this is what they’re opposing. “The idea of taking money from one generation to give it to another is fundamentally what Republicans don’t like,” he said. “They want everybody to fend for himself.”

During a debate with his presumptive Republican Senate challenger George Allen, he noted that Allen advocated “privatization” of Social Security. “He wants to break the generational bond” that makes Social Security work,” Kaine said. “I will fight that tooth and nail.”

Many of the problems of Medicare, Kaine added, can be addressed by taking on the pharmaceutical companies. He cited the component of the prescription drug legislation that prohibits the U.S. from negotiating with the pharmaceutical companies for the price of drugs.” This “drives me insane,” he said.

“We could be saving $25 billion a year” by negotiating for volume discounts impacting 47 million Americans, he said, adding there could also be savings from use of generic rather than brand name products.

He added that “we pay for the wrong things” with Medicare, noting that other countries focus more on “health and outcome” rather than “procedures.” There needs to be, he said, a “migration” toward greater emphasis on wellness care, while making no “draconian” cuts.

Agreeing with the comments of one citizen, he noted that the public strongly supports all the individual components of the Affordable Care Act, even though attitudes are more split when it comes to the package as a whole. If the Supreme Court strikes it down, he said, “It will be horrible,” and “will greatly diminish the credibility of the court,” already diminished by its Bush-Gore and “Citizens United” decisions. “I am hoping they will find they can uphold it in a non-political way,” he said.

His opponent, George Allen, he noted, called so-called “Obama Care” a “monstrosity.”

Kaine conceded he is in a very tight race to win in November, even though attack ads against him paid for by “super PACs” such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce linking him to Obama “seem kind of weird, given that Obama is leading over Romney in the polls in Virginia right now.”

Concluding his comments, Kaine said, “They have the ‘super PACS,’ we have the grass roots,” noting that being even in the polls now is better than he was used to when he ended up winning statewide races in 2001 for lieutenant governor and 2005 as governor.

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