It took all of five days for Democrat Tim Kaine’s televised debate comment about taxes to show up in an ad for Republican George Allen’s U.S. Senate campaign.
The 30-second Allen spot incorporates a snippet from last week’s debate between the former governors in McLean, in which Kaine said: “I would be open to a proposal that had some minimum tax level for everyone.”
Allen’s campaign has seized on the remark to push its argument that Kaine is a reflexive tax-raiser. The ad also takes note of Kaine’s attempts to raise taxes during his term as governor.
“Tim Kaine: Raising taxes on everyone,” the ad concludes.
“Tim Kaine’s response to nearly every challenge is to raise taxes,” said Allen campaign manager Mike Thomas.
Kaine’s debate comment came during a discussion about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s assertion that the 47 percent of Americans who pay no income tax “believe they are victims” entitled to government handouts. After Kaine condemned Romney’s remark, moderator David Gregory of NBC News asked Kaine if he believed all Virginians should pay some level of federal income tax.
“I would be open to a proposal that would have some minimum tax level for everyone,” Kaine responded. “But I do insist that many of the 47 percent that Governor Romney was going after pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than he does.”
Kaine said after the debate that he was not advocating a broader application of the income tax.
“It shouldn’t be news that somebody who wants to go into the Senate is willing to start from a position of openness in a dialogue,” he said.
Kaine’s campaign said the Allen falsely accuses Kaine of wanting to raise taxes on everyone.
“It’s disappointing that George Allen would choose to run an ad that he knows is false,” Kaine spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine said. “This is exactly what’s wrong with Washington these days and further demonstrates why George Allen would not be able to help break the partisan gridlock there.”
“The facts are that the tax burden on Virginia families was lower under Tim Kaine than under George Allen,” Hoffine said. “Tim Kaine cut taxes for the lowest-income Virginians, while George Allen wants to cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans. Tim Kaine has offered a specific plan to avoid sequestration, while George Allen has vague proposals that would actually increase the deficit. And Tim Kaine continues show a willingness to listen and work with the other side in the interest of finding common ground while George Allen continues to draw ideological battle lines. ”
Thomas said Allen “understands that we can’t tax our way to a growing economy. Based on his proven record, George Allen has put forward a Blueprint for America’s Comeback, a comprehensive plan to create over 500,000 new jobs a year, unleash America’s plentiful energy resources and rein in federal government spending.”
Allen wasn’t alone in going after Kaine today. The powerhouse conservative group Crossroads GPS unleashed another attack ad on Kaine, also on taxes. It also accuses Kaine of supporting potential military spending cuts because Kaine backed a bipartisan 2011 deal to increase the federal debt limit.
The agreement called for a congressional “supercommittee” to come up with a long-term plan to reduce the deficit and for automatic spending cuts to occur if the panel failed. As noted here earlier, Kaine supported the debt-limit deal and so did Republican congressional leaders. But Kaine also has called for Congress to take steps to avert the defense cuts that could take effect next year.
“George Allen and his allies are giving new meaning to the old saying ‘throw some money at the problem,’” Hoffine said. “With over $13 million in negative, misleading attacks to date, all their efforts have done is cement George Allen’s reputation as someone who’s more interested in fighting partisan battles than fixing them. ”
– Michael Sluss