Kaine parts with Obama on capital gains hikes
It is the issue that could define former Governor Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) in the race for U.S. Senate from Virginia. If Kaine can articulate a message on taxes that sounds reasonable to independent and moderate voters it could quell the concerns raised by his potential opponent, former Governor George Allen (R-Virginia). And depending on how that position is received, it could also provide him wiggle room in his tight association with President Obama.
The issue on the table right now is President Obama’s proposal to pay for his jobs bill. It is a plan that includes a mix of new taxes that add up to $1.5 trillion.
Kaine is generally supportive of the president’s deficit reduction plan. In an interview Monday on NBC12 First at 4, Kaine told me that more revenue is a necessity.
“I have supported the expiration of the (Bush) tax cuts… let them expire at the top end,” Kaine said “I also believe we do need to take away some of the tax breaks and loopholes for big oil. I want the companies to be profitable, but they don’t need our help.”
But while he is generally supportive of the plan, Kaine stops short of the president in two key areas. He believes the Bush tax cuts should expire starting at the $500,000 a year mark, while Mr. Obama has proposed the taxes kick back in at the $250,000 a year level. He also is resistant to pushing high rates on income made from investments.
“I have not supported that provision,” he said.
An increase to capital gains taxes have been a point of contention for the president and a constant knock from republicans who have couched the president’s plan as just a massive tax hike.
Republicans like George Allen, whose staff responded to the Kaine interview.
“Mr. Kaine is clearly feeling the weight of advocating for the President’s failed agenda over the last three years,” said Bill Riggs, Allen’s press secretary.
Riggs pointed out that Kaine has had a mixed message on taxes from his time as DNC Chairman, to his time as a candidate. Monday, Kaine pointed out emphatically that an expiration of the Bush Tax cuts would not be a tax increase, even citing anti-tax champion Grover Norquist.
“The Bush tax cuts in the plan were made temporary,” said Kaine. “George Allen voted for them to be temporary and they were made temporary for one reason. If you make them permanent, they will completely explode the deficit, so here they are, they’re temporary, they’re set to expire at the end of 2012 and I have supported the element of the president’s plan that would let those tax cuts expire at the top end. That’s not voting for a tax increase.”
But according to Riggs, Kaine had a different position when he was at the DNC, applauding the president’s bi-partisan plan to extend the tax cuts. While Kaine voiced support for the overall plan, he specifically applauded the extension of the tax cuts for the middle class, saying that it allowed Americans to “breathe a sigh of relief”. His staff maintains that has always been against the extension of the Bush Tax Cuts for high earners.
Hence the challenge for Kaine. Can he find the common ground on taxes that can fend off Allen’s attacks while at the same time building some space between he and President Obama? It could be the difference between winning and losing.
You can see my full interview with Governor Kaine below. A full transcript is available at NBC12.com.
The full statement from Governor Allen’s campaign can be found after the jump. Governor Allen has also been invited for an interview on First at 4 as well.
Allen Campaign Response To Kaine Interview:
“As the President’s hand-picked Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Mr. Kaine is clearly feeling the weight of advocating for the President’s failed agenda over the last three years. It was Tim Kaine who championed President Obama’s first $800 billion failed stimulus, saying it would ‘jump start the economy.’ Since then we’ve lost 1.7 million jobs and seen 30 months of unemployment over 8 percent. If more Washington spending and massive tax hikes improved the economy, Americans wouldn’t be facing unemployment stuck above 9 percent. New tax increases will not help to create jobs, they will only hurt job creating businesses. Chairman Kaine should know this all too well, as Governor he tried to raise taxes $4 billion even while Virginia lost over 100,000 jobs – sadly, some people never learn.” – Bill Riggs, Allen Campaign Spokesman