Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) spent the morning in Loudoun where he met with business owners in downtown Leesburg and at the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber hosted Kaine for a roundtable discussion that focused on tax and healthcare reform. Kaine said he is optimistic about stabilizing healthcare markets and making incremental improvements now that the Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act has collapsed, but floated the idea of much larger changes—such as taking the burden of providing healthcare off of employers and allowing people to keep their insurance as they move around, such as allowing people to buy into Medicare. He also said he expects to see Senate proposals for a single-payer system.
“We shouldn’t miss the opportunity to step back and ask, ‘is our system set up in a way that it can be set up better?’” Kaine said.
The conversation hit on several topics important to the business owners around the table—such as the minimum wage. Kaine said raising the minimum wage is a policy he supports, but “it’s a policy without a rationale.”
“We tell our kids, work is important, so we’re trying to preach this hard work,” Kaine said. “But if you have a wage that puts you under the poverty level, it’s like our words are hollow. Our actions don’t match our words.” He said the minimum wage should be enough that a single parent working full time is above the poverty line.
After his meeting at the Chamber, Kaine joined Leesburg Mayor Kelly Burk for a tour of businesses in downtown Leesburg, starting at Tally Ho Theater, stopping along the way to try beer at Black Hoof, mussels at Delirium, and peanuts at Very Virginia, and wrapping up with lunch at the Leesburg Diner.
On the tour, he said Northern Virginia is a particular challenge for infrastructure—such as the type that would be needed to evacuate DC in the case of an emergency such as a hurricane.
“The challenge is, it’s really hard to use eminent domain,” Kaine said. “So it’s not like there’s a lot of just vacant land, and you can build infrastructure on vacant land. You’re talking about due process and things like that. You’re talking about taking people’s property.”
But the tour itself had less in the way of policy discussion and more beer and food tasting.
“People were proud,” Kaine said. “They were showing off their businesses, and what I heard from people is a lot of pride in the level of activity in downtown Leesburg.”
This article was updated Friday, Sept. 1 at 1:44 p.m.