NORFOLK - Republican Senate candidate George Allen is taking to the airwaves to attack Democratic candidate Tim Kaine over the issue of taxation.
In his commercial, “Accountable,” Allen focuses on comments Kaine made in a recent debate before the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce. The commercial uses this Kaine comment : “I would be open to a proposal that would have some minimum tax level for everyone.”
What the ad does not say is that Kaine’s comment came in response to a question from moderator David Gregory of NBC News, and it was not a specific proposal from the Democrat.
The non-partisan, Pulitzer Prize-winning website Politifact.org in its “truth-o-meter” analysis of the ad concluded: “Kaine did not promote the idea of all Americans paying a minimum federal income tax. He said he would consider it.”
As a result, Politifact labeled that claim “false.”
However, Politifact was more supportive of the other central claim in Allen's ad -- that Kaine proposed tax increases for people earning as little as $17,000. Politifact found that Kaine, in his final budget proposal as governor from 2010-2012, did call for adding a one percent income tax surcharge, with all proceeds going to localities in return for them scrapping the car tax on personal vehicles.
On that score, Politifact declared, “We rate Allen’s statement as true.”
“It was clear, the message was very concrete,” said Norfolk State University political analyst Carol Pretlow.
Pretlow is a tenured Associate Professor of Political Science and founding Director of the Consortium for Strategic and Global Studies in the Department of Political Science at NSU. She agreed to work with WVEC to review the commercial and to offer it letter grades, as she would for a project by one of her students.
Pretlow said “Accountable” falls short in claiming that Kaine is absolutely for increasing taxes, when in fact all he did, in responding to a question, was to say that he would consider it.
“I expected a little more context, a little more substance to explain how this perspective got presented,” she said.
When it came time to issue her final grades, Pretlow came through with several. For style and visuals, she presented A’s. For message, Pretlow awarded a C because she says there wasn’t enough context to support the claims. As for a final grade, it was a B-minus.
“And that’s being generous,” she said.
Last week, Regent University Government Dean Chuck Dunn examined an ad from Kaine called “Actions Matter.” While that commercial received “true” and “mostly true” ratings from Politifact, Dunn was less generous, giving the commercial A’s for presentation, especially since it was Kaine himself on camera doing all the talking and not a narrator. Dunn issued a C for a final grade, because he said there wasn’t enough context and facts to back up the several of the claims.
Next week, 13News will begin examining ads in Virginia’s Second Congressional District race.