This post has been updated
Retiring Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) criticized some of the tax increases in President Obama’s jobs plan this week, and Republicans have seized on those comments to attack the Democrat trying to succeed him — Timothy M. Kaine.
Obama’s proposal includes a mix of tax cuts and new spending on infrastructure and education, with the cost of the plan offset by closing some tax loopholes and eliminating itemized deductions for individuals earning over $200,000 and families earning over $250,000. Those proposals have drawn heavy flak from Republicans and a few Democrats, including Virginia’s senior senator.
“I do not believe we should be increasing ordinary earned income taxes on any level,” Webb said Monday on Andrea Mitchell Reports. “I think there are places for us to be able to get money by changing things like the capital gains tax and the loopholes that have existed in our tax code.”
Webb was more blunt Tuesday, telling Politico that Obama’s proposed tax increase was “terrible.”
The comments were nothing new for Webb, who has a history of deviating from the party line and criticizing Obama on some issues. And he made the same point about tax increases on ordinary income on the Senate floor in July, amid the debate over raising the debt ceiling. Webb is likely to support many other elements of Obama’s proposal.
But now Republicans and Democrats are in the midst of squabbling over Obama’s jobs plan, as are Kaine and his likely opponent next year, former senator George Allen (R). So the GOP has seized on Webb’s complaints.
Kaine, the National Republican Senatorial Committee suggested, “stands outside not only the Virginia mainstream, but far to the left of a long and growing list of Senate Democrats.”
And the Allen campaign also sought to put Kaine on the spot via Webb’s remarks.
“Will Chairman Kaine join others rejecting the latest efforts to increase taxes or will he continue to stand with the president?”asked Allen spokesman Bill Riggs.
Last week Kaine praised elements of Obama’s proposal, but he has not voiced an opinion on the specific tax increases the president wants.
“Governor Kaine is reviewing the proposal and has already stated he’s generally in favor of the president’s approach which directs resources to helping small businesses and middle class families,” said Kaine spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine. “He believes that focusing our efforts on job-creating small businesses and working Americans is a better approach than the one Senator Allen champions, which protects tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations at the expense of the middle class.”