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Which candidate will raise taxes in Virginia?

By Lee Hockstader

Bob McDonnell, the Republican candidate for governor in Virginia, is a smart guy -- smart enough to frame his positions with care. Which is why I wonder whether he has intentionally left himself some wiggle room in his ritualized insistence that he won't raise taxes “in this tough economic time.”

That’s how he usually puts it, and that’s how he put it tonight in his fourth and last debate against the Democrat running for governor, state Sen. Creigh Deeds. Sure enough, the gubernatorial campaign has taken place during a sharp recession. But it’s a good bet that the economists who decide these things will determine fairly soon that the recession is over -- or ended some months ago -- and that growth, jobless or not, has resumed. Could McDonnell then turn on a dime and declare that with “this tough economic time” over and done with, higher taxes were now unavoidable?

It may be difficult to imagine that a Republican of McDonnell’s ilk, who has opposed most major tax increases, will change stripes that drastically. But on the major challenge facing the state, transportation, he will face a stark choice if he is elected governor: Stick with his own, light-as-a-feather transportation plan (lots of ideas, none of them likely to produce much money) and see no significant road improvements for the next four years, or, well, make a few adjustments.

It wouldn’t be unheard of. Neither Gov. Gerald Baliles (1986-1990) nor Gov. Mark Warner (2002-2006) admitted to wanting to raise taxes as a candidate; both turned out to be famous tax-raisers, and both left office lionized by majorities of Virginians as great governors.

It wouldn’t even be completely unprecedented for McDonnell, who, after all, played a part in crafting a compromise a couple of years ago under which Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads would have had the option of increasing taxes on themselves. (The idea died in a court challenge, but it could be revived in some other form.)

McDonnell, who would still be a youngish 59 on leaving office in 2014 (Virginia governors get just one four-year term), would be looking for the next political opening, possibly for the presidency in 2016. Would he really want to run as the governor who did nothing significant to address his state’s most critical problem? Or, mindful that moderation is the key to success nationally, as in a purple state like Virginia, would he strike a deal with the Democrats who control the state Senate and become the first governor in a quarter century to raise new funds for transportation?

“I know it’s gonna take a bipartisan solution,” McDonnell said in the debate tonight, in which he also took pains to praise President Obama, President Kennedy and former Gov. Doug Wilder -- all Democrats.

A bipartisan solution? Sounds like new taxes to me.

By Lee Hockstader  | October 20, 2009; 9:35 PM ET
Categories:  Hockstader  | Tags:  Lee Hockstader  
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Comments

At NO time did Bob McDonnell mention raising taxes AT ALL or in reference to Obama, Kennedy or Wilder.

Bob McDonnell wants to LOWER TAXES.

The only candidate flip-flopping like a fish out water about raising taxes is “I think I made myself clear young lady” Creigh Deeds . . . Google “Deeds On the Ropes on Taxes”.

Posted by: WeThePeopleofVirginia | October 21, 2009 5:15 AM | Report abuse

Some times the wise thing is to increase taxes and pay for the services people want.

Posted by: gary4books | October 21, 2009 6:00 AM | Report abuse

Oh look everyone, it's apparently time for the Post's daily "Deeds really isn't a complete moron" article. How nice. Thanks so much.

Posted by: mgochs | October 21, 2009 8:08 AM | Report abuse

I'll never understand the conservatives constant "lower taxes" mantra. You have to actually pay for things and services, really! Just ask the soldiers sent to Iraq without adequate bullets/water/armor/training/food/medicine/etc. becuase Bush and the GOP lowered taxes. Do we really want China to own all the USA?

You get what you pay for.

Posted by: janeway1 | October 21, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

WAPO, thanks for all your help this election. With a candidate like Deeds, it is great that you are here to tell us what he really means and thinks. No need to do it for McDonnell though, he actually takes positions and has a plan.

As an "independent newspaper" , if you want to present the other side, heres a suggestion. May work best as a Dilbert type cartoon.

Issue X - fill in your issue here

Deeds: I feel this way on issue X (cause thats what you VAs want to hear)

Reporter: But the Dems in power and your major liberal contributors feel differently.

Deeds: Well, I like that position too.

Reporter: So which is it.

Deeds: I think Ive been clear, everything is on the table. I will form a commitee.

Virginia Electorate: HUH?.

We are the Washington Post and we approve of this message. Vote Deeds.

Posted by: billmeadester | October 21, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Lee Hockstader, an editorial writer for the Washington Post, is a smart guy -- smart enough to frame his positions with care. According to his biography on the Washington Post website, Lee Hockstader spent a few years working in the Washington Post’s bureau in Moscow. Moscow. In Russia. Which is why I wonder whether he has the best interests of Virginia at heart when he supports Creigh Deeds and mocks Bob McDonnell.

Posted by: VirginianforFreedom | October 21, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Honestly . . . Creigh Deeds has fumbled his way through this campaign to the point where I expect to hear he endorses Bob McDonnell for Governor.

Posted by: WeThePeopleofVirginia | October 21, 2009 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Intelligent people know that McDonnel's plan doesn't hold water and I do believe that he will have to raise taxes in some way because the only way to fund Transportation is with a source of new Revenue. A five cent addition to the gas tax would be a good start and barely noticed in these times of seesaw gas prices. His problem is not striking a deal with the Dems in the Senate but the Obstructionist Repubs in the other house. Deeds is at least honest in saying why promise something when we know the recent history of progress in the Assembly. McDonnell will prob be elected but we know how well past Republicans have governed and we will just have to wait another 4 years as things get worse.

Posted by: Falmouth1 | October 22, 2009 7:38 AM | Report abuse

I'll never understand the conservatives constant "lower taxes" mantra. You have to actually pay for things and services, really! Just ask the soldiers sent to Iraq without adequate bullets/water/armor/training/food/medicine/etc. becuase Bush and the GOP lowered taxes. Do we really want China to own all the USA?

You get what you pay for.

Posted by: janeway1

++++++++++++++++++++

janeway1, you need to look a little further back in history. One of Bushes first items of business as president was to REBUILD the military after Billy the cigar Clinton decimated it. If you recall (oops you never looked) he robbed the military budget to pay for the social programs and also to come in with a surplus in the budget. he not only raided the military, he also stole from the intelligence community, hence, the 9/11 attacks were made feasible by the terrorists.

Bush not only rebuilt the military, restored confidence in our intelligence community, he lower taxes and had a robust economy. Yes the housing bubble burst on his watch, but we all know the Democrats in congress along with billy boy were the instigators for this debacle.

Learn about both sides of history other than the posted script on the move on site

Posted by: frankn1 | October 22, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Typical Virginians: wanting something for nothing. WE WANT NEW ROADS (but not if we have to pay for them). WE WANT BETTER SCHOOLS (but not if it raises taxes).

Small wonder that it takes an hour to go 15 miles each way on an overgrown country road (Rt. 7).

McDonnell's either going to ignore the traffic problem or increase and add more tolls (which is just an "everyday tax" anyway) after he guts education spending and puts the kaiboche on the Metro extension.

There was a dead deer on the side of the road that was moving faster than me this morning. Something's gotta give, or someone's gotta give an effort.

Posted by: Please_Fix_VAs_Roads | October 22, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Lee Hockstader, an editorial writer for the Washington Post, is a smart guy -- smart enough to frame his positions with care. According to his biography on the Washington Post website, Lee Hockstader spent a few years working in the Washington Post’s bureau in Moscow. Moscow. In Russia. Which is why I wonder whether he has the best interests of Virginia at heart when he supports Creigh Deeds and mocks Bob McDonnell.

Posted by: VirginianforFreedom | October 21, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

---------

Wow, VirginianforFreedom, can you possibly be as out of contact with reality as this sounds? You actually believe all American journalists who report from Russia are in some way... what? Stalin-era Communists? Fluent in Russian? Interested in classical ballet? Drunk on vodka? I'm completely baffled as I try to imagine the inner "logic" of your mind.

And in any case, what could any of that possibly have to do with a race between a Republican and a centrist Democrat to be governor of Virginia? We don't have a foreign policy here, you know, because we're, well, a commonwealth, not a country. I'm hoping you knew that.

In the real world where regular people live, a posting to Moscow is a prized assignment in any news organization, because that's a key world capital. It's a sign somebody is good at his or her job.

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | October 22, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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