The Washington Post

McAuliffe looks to attach $8 billion price tag to Cuccinelli tax plans in Va. governor’s race

One day after Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II’s campaign for Virginia governor released a report alleging that Democratic rival Terry McAuliffe’s policy proposals would cost $14 billion, McAuliffe’s camp fired back with its own accusatory set of numbers.

Cuccinelli (R) added up a variety of McAuliffe pledges, using estimates from think tanks as well as conservative PACs and nonprofits to produce the claim that McAuliffe “wants to spend 60 times more money than is available to him” in the budget.

A McAuliffe spokesman accused the Cuccinelli campaign of “making up numbers” to avoid accounting for his own plan.

On Thursday, McAuliffe sought to price Cuccinelli’s economic blueprint at $8 billion. Cuccinelli, McAuliffe’s document says, uses “fuzzy magic” to “mislead Virginians into believing [his] irresponsible budget plans.”

Cuccinelli has proposed reducing personal and corporate income taxes in the state, at a total cost of $1.4 billion per year. He would offset the loss of revenue by eliminating loopholes and credits in the tax code, but rather than specify the offsets himself, Cuccinelli would leave it to a commission to rank current tax credits based on their effectiveness.

McAuliffe’s latest report assumes Cuccinelli will not find those offsets, and so Virginia would have to cut spending by $5.6 billion over four years or localities would have to raise their own taxes to make up the difference. (McAuliffe’s camp has previously suggested Cuccinelli’s plan would lead to big property tax increases.)

But Cuccinelli has said publicly multiple times — including at the July debate in Hot Springs — that he will not cut income taxes unless he has identified offsets in the tax code.

Cuccinelli spokeswoman Anna Nix called McAuliffe’s assertions “laughable” and a sign that the Democrat was unwilling to refute the specifics of the report Cuccinelli issued Wednesday.

“Ken has repeatedly explained that he would pay for his plan by eliminating tax loopholes and capping the growth of government at population plus inflation,” Nix said. “Ken’s even said that without eliminating the loopholes, you won’t get the tax cut. Terry doesn’t understand Ken’s plan any better than he understands his own spending plans.”

McAuliffe’s report also seizes on a comment from Chesapeake minister E.W. Jackson, the Republican lieutenant governor nominee. In September, Jackson said he hoped to eliminate the corporate income tax entirely someday, and suggested that Cuccinelli agreed with him. That, McAuliffe’s report says, would cost more than $2.4 billion over four years.

Cuccinelli’s campaign has never said whether he agrees or disagrees with Jackson’s proposal, only that the lieutenant governor nominee does not speak for Cuccinelli. Jackson also said in September that the idea would “take longer than four years” to come to fruition, so would not be pushed immediately.

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