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With speculation growing that he’ll join the wide-open 2012 Republican presidential field, South Dakota Sen. John Thune plans to roll out a sweeping proposal Tuesday to remake the congressional budget process.
Thune’s budget plan would create a joint House-Senate panel on cutting government spending, call for a line-item veto and mandate that 10 percent of the deficit be cut each year until it is eliminated.
As he tries to build up his policy credentials, Thune is also stepping up his political travel, headlining a Republican Party of Virginia event on Wednesday, to be followed by trips to Arkansas, California and Ohio on behalf of GOP Senate candidates. With Thune in heavy demand on the campaign circuit, more such trips are expected soon.
The American Conservative Union gave Senator Thune a rating of "100" in 2006.
Thune has described his religious faith as the most important aspect of his political career: "Having a Christian worldview shapes my decision-making with respect to all aspects of my life. I always respect people in public life who are principled, and those principles have to be connected to something. And my faith is what serves as the anchor and directs my actions." In June 2006, Thune reaffirmed his strong support to amend the United States Constitution to ban same-sex marriage: "The Federal Marriage Amendment debate simply is an opportunity for us to affirm our support for marriage...It is an important debate to have in this country." Thune is pro-life and opposes federal funding for elective abortions in accordance with the Hyde Amendment.
In a 2005 interview with Christianity Today, Thune supported Operation Iraqi Freedom, expressing a hope that this would result in greater religious freedom: "Liberating Iraq from decades of tyranny and dictatorship, bringing about political freedom, will create an atmosphere of where religious freedom will come to Iraq. And that opens the door, obviously, for the Christian faith there as well."
Calling himself a fiscal conservative, Thune spoke out against and voted down the economic recovery and stimulus spending bills in 2008 and early 2009. In one example of fiscal conservatism in 2005, he supported a bill to save $40 billion in the federal budget by cutting back student lending, child support, and welfare programs. On the other hand, Representative Thune supported the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and has expressed support for their continuation in 2010. In 2008, however, he opposed giving tax breaks to first-time home buyers and home builders. In a tight Senate race in 2002, Thune was instrumental in creating the $750,000,000 Livestock Compensation Program, $50,000,000 of which went to South Dakota. Although he expressed opposition to earmarks, in 2008 he requested $252,490,000 in earmarks and received $240,081,050. Thune voted for the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and has consistently supported funding for both wars.