For some reason, George Allen refuses to give up the ghost: he thinks he can ride the anti-tax horse back to the Senate. To be sure, it was a big horse back in the 1990's when Allen was the most powerful politician in the state. But it is now been reduced to a One-Trick Pony in 2012.
Yet the GOP posse thinks Tim Kaine made a huge "mistake" yesterday in discussing taxes. The Democratic candidate made an uncharacteristic bobble by answering a hypothetical tax question with a hypothetical answer. For a Harvard lawyer, that is unusual.
But let's assume, arguendo, that Kaine is guilty as charged: He is more likely to raise taxes than George Allen. First: This is not a new charge, Allen has been saying it for the last 446 days, and will say it for the remaining 46. If it hasn't worked yet, then why would what Kaine said yesterday move the needle? Is Tim Kaine more likely to vote for a tax increase than George Allen? Considering Allen says he will never raise taxes, then logically Kaine can't be less likely to raise taxes now can he? Nor can anyone else.
So okay: let's assume that Kaine is more likely to raise taxes in some way than Allen. Indeed, Kaine admits it: he is willing to raise taxes, or more accurately let the Bush tax cuts expire, for people making $500k in taxable income a year. That is not all that many people, by the way, according to the IRS.
In 2008, Virginians elected the President despite his promise to raise taxes on those making $250k net a year. Right now, Virginians favor the President once again, who is making the same pledge again. Okay, so he didn't do in the past 4 years, so you can say voters may not believe he will do it this time either.
However, he has made it very clear: he intends to do it, although the Congress is more likely to draw the line at $1 million. Again, this covers a very small number of Americans.
When Allen was winning in the 1990's, the anti-tax argument was very strong. It has been less so recently as Mitt Romney is finding out. Virginians ain't dumb: they know we are in a fiscal mess. So let's cut through the stuff.
Everyone in Virginia likely believes that all things being equal, Tim Kaine, the Democrat, is more likely to raise taxes than George Allen the Republican. Mark Warner, the Democrat, is not only more likely to raise taxes, he has been trying to do it for several years in the Congress. He is also the state's most popular politician. Why?
Because there is a difference between raising taxes for the purpose of giving the government more money to waste and raising taxes for the purposes of fixing the fiscal mess caused in large measure by giving a handful of people tax cuts we can't afford.
Bill Clinton raised taxes: and he is the most popular ex-President since Eisenhower. The point being, as Republicans have made clear: they are going to be more anti-tax than any Democrat, no matter what. People get that. But they also get that Republicans have for some reason stopped giving Virginians, and Americans, credit for having any brain power at all.
Tim Kaine is seen as a decent, fiscally responsible guy who is not ideological and actually a little more cautious on stuff than he needs to be. But better to be safe than sorry. He isn't going to tax and spend us into bankruptcy: quite the opposite, he can be trusted to help fix the mess in Washington. And Americans suspect this will require raising taxes on people making a million bucks a year at some point.
And it will, given the fiscal cliff straight ahead. But even then, there will be reductions in the business taxes paid by their companies; it is going to be a reform of the code, not just adding taxes. A one-trick pony can't carry America to the head of the class. Moreover, the tax increase will only go back to what the rate was under Clinton although with less deductions, that is true.
The bottom line: George Allen has turned his once powerful Anti-Tax horse into a One-Trick Pony. As I have said for months now, I know George. He did some good things as Governor that helped our state, and showed a practical streak in many areas, not purely ideological. But like so many contemporary Republicans, the politics of getting nominated has caused him to have a brain cram.
There was a time when calling a Democrat a "tax raiser" - without any proof - would work to get you elected in Virginia. Those days are over. Tim has a very responsible record of tax and fiscal issues. Virginians know that. He is a man who can be trusted to govern responsibly. To be sure, the tax issue isn't his strongest. It isn't for Warner either; it never is for a Democrat. But that has been baked into the pie for years now.
If all George Allen has left is 46 days of calling Kaine a big tax-and-spend guy - and to seize on every little thing possible to try and prove it - this election is over, the only question left to decide being the margin of Kaine's victory.
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