Friday, October 24th, 2014

Ad Watch: Allen and the GOP go after Kaine

George Allen attacks Tim Kaine's stands on health care and defense in this TV ad that began airing Oct. 23.

Republicans have launched TV ads attacking Democrat U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine on health care, defense, taxes and spending.

The commercials are separately sponsored by Republican U.S. Senate candidate George Allen and two conservative groups, Crossroads GPS and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Yesterday, we reviewed ads by Kaine accusing Allen of being insensitive to women on birth control and abortion. Today, we’ll turn our attention to the GOP spots, which contain many statements PolitiFact Virginia has previously examined.

Allen claim: Kaine supported a "deal leading to defense cuts that threaten 200,000 Virginia jobs."

Crossroads and the NRSC make almost identical statements in their ads.

Kaine supported a last-minute deal struck by Congress and the White House in August 2011 to raise the nation’s debt limit and avoid a U.S. default. In return for a higher borrowing cap, the bipartisan compromise called for $900 billion in spending cuts over 10 years, mixed between national security and domestic programs.

It also created a congressional supercommittee to come up with at least $1.2 trillion more in deficit reductions through cutting spending and increasing revenues. But the panel deadlocked and that triggered the final part of the deal: an automatic $1 trillion in cuts split evenly between defense and domestic programs over nine years that will begin Jan. 2.

Kaine says he backed the deal because he did not want to see the U.S. default on its bills -- a position shared by many Republicans, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Gov. Bob McDonnell. Kaine has voiced hope that Congress will strike a debt-reduction deal before the automatic cuts -- called "sequestration" -- begin.

The Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University has made a disputed estimate that sequestration could eliminate 1 million military and defense-related jobs across the nation, including 207,000 in Virginia.

Allen opposed the debt-limit deal last year.

Allen claim: Kaine backed President  Barack Obama’s "government takeover of health care."

The NRSC ad makes virtually the same statement.  

Undoubtedly, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act expands government regulation of health care. It mandates that most Americans have health care insurance or pay a tax penalty.

But the law does not give government the power to control privately-run hospitals and health care businesses; doctors won’t be government employees. Private insurers will still provide health care coverage and employer-based coverage will continue.

The claim that Obamacare is a  "government takeover of health care" was PolitiFact’s 2010 Lie of the Year and we have previously ruled its repetition by Allen as False.

Crossroads claim: "As governor, Tim Kaine tried to raise a lot of taxes, even on people making as little as $17,000."

We examined this claim and found it to be True. Kaine, in his farewell biennial budget for 2010-2012 unsuccessfully proposed adding a 1 percent income tax surcharge and giving all proceeds to counties and cities in exchange for them ending the car tax they levy on personal vehicles. Many -- but not all -- individual earners at the $17,000 level would have seen their tax bills rise.

Kaine unsuccessfully sought about $4 billion in tax increases when he was governor from 2006 to 2010. We should also note that he raised the minimum threshold for paying state income tax from $7,000 to $11,950 for individuals and from $12,000 to $23,950 for married couples filing jointly. That took 147,000 low-income Virginians off the tax rolls.

NRSC claim: "As governor, Kaine increased spending by nearly $6 billion."

The total state budget was $32 billion when Kaine when Kaine took office in 2006 and was $37.9 billion when he left in 2010 -- a $5.9 billion increase. But governors have little or no control over more than half of the budget. That portion, called the non-general fund, largely consists of earmarked federal grants, tuition payments set and received by state colleges, and medical fees set and received by state hospitals.

A cleaner measure of a governor’s fiscal record comes from examining the general fund, which pays for education, health and public safety. It’s mostly supported by state sales and income taxes. The general fund was $15.1 billion at the start of Kaine’s administration and dropped to $14.8 billion at the end, as Virginia emerged from a national recession.