Virginia Democratic Senate nominee Tim Kaine probably wishes he could hit a "do-over" button. During a televised debate with GOP candidate George Allen, the former DNC Chairman came out in favor of a new federal "minimum tax for everyone," including tens of millions of low and middle class American families:
In his haste to demagogue Mitt Romney's '47 percent' comments, Kaine fell into a trap. As Romney stated, roughly 47 percent of all American households pay zero or negative federal income tax rates. Many of these people are either seniors, jobless, or don't make enough money to qualify to pay those taxes. While Romney concedes that it's appropriate for many of these individuals to be exempt from paying federal income taxes, Kaine proposes instituting a new baseline level of taxation for all of the above. Some Republicans like Michele Bachmann have floated similar ideas in the past, but have been slapped down by fellow conservatives. The economics are bad, and the politics are terrible. As Democrats try to convince voters that they've got the middle class' best interests at heart, statements like "minimum tax for everyone" aren't helpful, to put it mildly. Kaine has now backed himself into a corner: He supports tax hikes on "the rich" (standard Democrat fare), and he backs tax hikes on the poor, plus everyone in between. The Allen campaign pounces: "What a surprise. Tim Kaine wants to raise taxes," the email banner reads. Allen's e-blast notes that Kaine proposed a similarly broad tax increase when he was governor:
“The Increase Would Mean A Hike In The Income Tax Rate From 5.75 Percent To 6.75 Percent For Those Earning More Than $17,000, 60 Percent Of Taxpayers.” (Anita Kumar and Rosalind S. Helderman, “Virginia Governor Proposes An Income Tax Increase,” The Washington Post, 12/19/09)
As governor, Tim Kaine was a tax and spender par excellence. His successor, Gov. Bob McDonnell, turned Kaine's deficits into three consecutive surpluses -- in lean economic times, and without raising taxes. McDonnell has endorsed Mitt Romney for president and George Allen for Senate. The Virginia Senate race has been locked in a virtual tie for months on end. Once ads featuring this clip start to carpet-bomb televisions across the state, could Kaine's stumble prove to be the factor that finally shifts the race?
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