Will the Real Tax-and-Spender Please Stand Up?

The Kilgore campaign has resumed its characterization of Tim Kaine as a “tax and spend liberal,” citing the following evidence:

  • Bringing Teacher salaries to the national average – $1.16 billion (Fiscal Impact for HB2075, 2005),
  • Small Business Health Care Tax Credit – $540 million (Fiscal Impact for SB1255, 2005),
  • Full Funding of Education – $1 to $1.2 billion (Richmond Times-Dispatch, June 2, 2005),
  • Phasing Out the Death Tax along the federal phase-out – $216 million (Fiscal Impact for HB4, 2004).

And those are just the highlights of a long laundry list.

Fair enough. Kaine probably does deserve the label “tax and spend liberal” (along with half the General Assembly, including a lot of Republicans). But unless Kilgore’s position is that he’s a tax-and-spend moderate — yeah, I’d spend more money, too, but not as much as the other guy — he needs to detail what he would cut from government spending and how.

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  1. Ben Kyber Avatar
    Ben Kyber

    Call me old-fashioned, but I think that in order to DETAIL how he would cut government spending, Kilgore would actually WANT to cut government spending. Otherwise hes just using the issue as political leverage.

  2. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    Obviously, I’m troubled by a Russ Potts who wants to tax us without being specific about it will fund; a Tim Kaine, who says he won’t tax us and isn’t advertising his spending proposals; and Jerry Kilgore, who is proposing a lot of new spending but saying he won’t raise taxes.

    All we can do is use these unsupportable positions to give us an idea of a candidate’s priorities. Potts seems to want to spend on transportation, for example, while Kaine seems to want more fully fund education, while Kilgore seems to want to fund pay raises for better-performing teachers.

    It’s not surprising that Kilgore isn’t specific on what he’d cut. I wish it were otherwise, but no matter what he suggested, he’d be painted as wanting to starve children and throw old folks out into the street.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    Will, I agree with you. Coming out about cutting spending is just opening the door for demagoguery from his opponents. So Kilgore really cannot say anything specific about that during the campaign except to make general assertions as to cutting waste.

    On the other hand, I am not especially confident about anyone running being willing to significantly cut any spending. I am much less confident though that we will see any cutting at all from either Kaine or Potts. With them it is more a question of how much new spending will increase?

    Interestingly, I will follow Russ Potts’ guidance from his last Senatorial campaign. He said in 2003 that I shouldn’t support his opponent at the time because he was a “tax and spender”. Ironically this advice will lead me to not vote for either Potts himself or Kaine for sure. I will have to evaluate Kilgore more to really see if I think he will be a “tax and spender”.

  4. The Jaded JD Avatar
    The Jaded JD

    Kudos to Mr. Bacon for his ideological consistency, demanding Mr. Kilgore tell us what he plans to cut to accommodate his spending proposals in the absence of increased state revenue.

    Sure, I hope state revenues continue to ride a rising tide of economic growth, but I think we learned our lesson in the Gilmore Administration that gubernatorial campaigns often write checks from the state treasury that mere economic growth cannot cash. And the resulting tug of war between living up to those promises and the downward spiral of state revenues during an economic downcycle often leads to fiscal irresponsibility.

  5. Anonymous Avatar

    Now that he has provided and questioned a list of Kaine spending priorities, Kilgore might get painted as wanting to starve the orphans and close the schools anyway…that is one move the Kaine camp might take.

    But I think the Kaine camp will instead produce an equally extensive list of expensive promises Kilgore has made, starting with the pledge to use General Funds for transportation. This is a really good example of that old rule about glass houses and rocks. It is clear that the Kaine strategy is to stay as close to Kilgore as it can, blur distinctions, and then win on personality and polish and a “keep a good thing going” argument tied to Warner’s popularity. I’m not sure this move by Kilgore disrupts that much.

  6. SDH4VBT Avatar

    Read the fine print of the Kaine laundry list, Jim. He clearly agrees with you on better land use and planning to tackle transportation issues. You’ll see more of that soon when Virginians for Better Transportation circulates the results of Kaine’s recent interview and VBT questionnaire. In all honesty it was a bit vague on details, but he wants a VDOT commissioner committed to that approach.

  7. Phil Rodokanakis Avatar
    Phil Rodokanakis

    Kilgore could safely propose some rudimentary accountability measures. For example, no one can argue with the fact that our $60 billion bi-annual budget receives no outside audit scrutiny. Proposing a State Inspector General along with a complete budget overhaul based on performance based budgeting principles are long overdue.

    But Kilgore doesn’t want to run afoul of Sir John “Tax them till the die and then hit them with the death tax” Chichester and his cronies in the Senate, who would rather fight than switch their good-old-boy ideology on managing state government. Kilgore already got spanked by Sir John for proposing that transportation projects be funded through the general fund and he is still smarting from those blows.

    So as long as we keep on electing the likes of Sir John along with the other tax-and-spend commissars to the State Senate, true government reform will remain a distant dream and we will continue being governed by the good-old-boys. Virginia in the new millennium is no different from the way the State was governed a couple centuries ago…

  8. James Young Avatar
    James Young

    I have no doubt that Kilgore may be from the “Slower Socialism” wing of the GOP (a la Sean Connaughton), but there’s no way to know that at this time. Unfortunately, the Taxchester wing of the party demands fidelity.

    Only time will tell.

  9. Anonymous Avatar

    JY I prefer “Chitaxer”.

  10. James Young Avatar
    James Young

    Anon 11:29 — Six of one; half dozen of the other….

  11. Anonymous Avatar

    Call me loony, but I came of voting age in the 1990’s and have sat through three very significant tax increases (Bush I’s in 1991, Clinton’s in 1994 & Gov. Warner’s last year). Everytime these increases were proposed, a bunch of people came out and said they would kill the economy and cost jobs. Whether it was Phil Gramm or Newt or Sen. Byrd or Kilgore or Griffith – they all screamed how these tax increases would kill the economy. And in every single case, they were dead wrong. Not just a little wrong, but dead wrong.

    Now I know my age cohort doesn’t vote much, but it seems to me that the lesson we learned is that a financial house in order increases jobs, lowers interest rates, and provides more opportunities for more people. At least that is what I have observed.

    So i don’t get the fixation on taxes. I understand the concern about the estate tax as a bunch of baby boomers want their inheritance, and I get the whining about fuel taxes as we all drive SUV’s, and I sorta get the property tax beef from people that are happily watching their property values increase but don’t want to pay the price, but I don’t understand the lower tax thought.

    And I think that is Kilgore’s genius play – he isn’t talking about a tax cut, he is talking about services. He is effectively playing both sides of the fence. Genius I tell you genius. Kind of a Nixon goes to China thing – you can trust me not to raise your taxes as I am a Republican but you can also trust me to deliver the increased services that you know will improve your quality of life and the economic competitiveness of the commonwealth.

  12. Anonymous Avatar

    “very significant tax increases (Bush I’s in 1991, Clinton’s in 1994 & Gov. Warner’s last year). ”

    “Loony” Anon 1:47, I think you have a bit of revisionist history going on. There’s lots of evidence to show that there is a time delay to the economic impacts of tax increases. Bush’s tax increase in the late 80’s I believe not 1991 helped lead us to the economic downturn of 1992 and then his political demise (remember Slick Willie’s famous phrase “It’s the economy, stupid”). Clinton’s tax increase which took effect in 1995 was initially counteracted by the “peace dividend” from the fall of the Soviet Union, but eventually led to the recession of 2000. Warner’s tax increase came at about the same time we saw greatly increased federal spending in the state due to 9-11 and it was not the tax increase that caused the economic upsurge.

    Decreased income tax rates have always improved economic activity and as a result increase overall revenue to the government. It works every time it’s been tried from Kennedy to Reagan, to G.W. Bush. Our economy is only now seeing the large benefits from Bush’s tax reductions of a couple years ago.

    Otherwise if it is increased taxes that increase all these economic indicators, why not just have a 100% income tax and we’d all live in liberal paradise?

    I agree government needs to keep its fiscal house in order, but increased services is not the answer. The private sector can provide many of the services the government is trying to at much better efficiency if we just allow it. So, to keep the fiscal house in order and improve the economy, keep taxes and spending low and free up private citizens to unleash their potential. This will make our state a much better one to live in. Constantly increasing taxes and spending only leads to an overbloated, inefficient government and eventually kills the economic engine that provides the sustenance for the government to begin with.

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