Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

A quick look at the Allen-Kaine debate

Democrat Time Kaine, left, and Republican George Allen sometimes use accurate numbers to draw questionable conclusions.
Democrat Time Kaine, left, and Republican George Allen sometimes use accurate numbers to draw questionable conclusions.

PolitiFact Virginia listened in on Thursday U.S. Senate debate between Republican George Allen and Democrat Tim Kaine. In the coming days, we plan to run several of their claims through our Truth-O-Meter.

For starters, we thought we’d review a number of statement at the debate that PolitiFact has previously researched.

Allen: "I opposed this (debt ceiling) deal last summer."

Allen was referring to an increase in the national debt limit that was passed on Aug. 2, 2011 -- the day the U.S. would have started defaulting on its obligations of Congress had not acted.

The deal had two parts.The first part called for a mix of $900 billion from national security and domestic spending cuts. The second part called for a congressional supercommittee to find at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction either from cuts, revenues or both. The committee failed, setting in motion a potential $1 trillion in automatic cuts -- half from defense programs and half from non-defense programs -- which are set to start in January, 2013 unless the White House and Congress take steps to prevent them.

Allen did oppose the deal, saying in an August 1, 2011 news release that it had "failed to deliver a long-term solution to our debt crisis." Allen also said the compromise had no concrete  Balanced Budget Amendment and put off decisions to "yet another commission."

Kaine: "(Allen) voted to raise the debt ceiling four times."

Allen served in the Senate from 2001 to 2007. He voted to raise the debt limit in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006, according to Senate records.

Allen: As governor, Kaine tried "to raise taxes on people earning as little as $17,000 a year."

Kaine proposed, as part of his farewell biennial budget for 2010-12, adding a 1 percent income tax surcharge and giving those proceeds to localities in return for them scrapping their car tax on  personal vehicles. Legislators in 1998 had passed a five-year plan to end the car tax and reimburse localities for their losses. But that program proved more expensive than expected and lawmakers halted the phase out when it was 70 percent complete.

Under Kaine’s unsuccessful proposal, the state would have stopped providing a $950 million annual car tax reimbursement. In exchange, it would increase the state income tax by 1 percent and give that to localities. The increase would have applied to all brackets and many people people earning $17,000 would have been affected.

Kaine: "I reduced (the) general fund budget when I was governor."

The general fund -- largely supported sales and income tax revenues -- supports education, public health and public safety. When Kaine took office in January 2006, it was $15.1 billion. When he left office four later, after combating a national recession, the general fund budget was $14.8 billion. But not counted in these numbers is $1.5 billion in federal stimulus money that was allocated to general fund programs during Kaine’s last year in office.

Allen: The United States’ 35 percent corporate income tax rate is "the worst in the world."

The statutory 35 percent rate is the highest among the three dozen industrialized nations that belong to the  Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development .

But businesses are entitled to various deductions and exemptions that can significantly lessen their tax burden -- leading to lower effective tax rates. A Congressional Research Service report found that the weighted effective rate for the U.S. in 2008 was 27.1 percent compared to 27.7 percent for the rest of the OECD.

Kaine: Says, as governor, he "expanded" pre-kindergarten programs

The recession forced Kaine to scale back his goals for expanding pre-K programs. But he was still able to increase funding for the Virginia Preschool Initiative from $46.3 million to $58.6 million.

In the 2005-06 school year, when Kaine took office, 11,343 children were enrolled in the state preschool program. When his term ended, in 2009-10, the program enrolled 15,901.