Democratic candidate says he'd back a plan to force the 47 per cent to pay minimum level of tax

By Toby Harnden


A Democratic candidate to the U.S. Senate said that he would back a plan for 'some minimum tax level for everyone' - including the 47 per cent of Americans controversially identified by Mitt Romney.

Governor Tim Kaine, debating Republican opponent George Allen in Virginia last night, was asked by the moderator David Gregory whether he believed that every Virginia citizen 'would have to pay something in federal income tax'.

"I would be open to a proposal that would have some minimum tax level for everyone, but I do insist many of the 47 percent that Governor Romney is going after pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than he does.'


Making a point: Governor Tim Kaine said he'd back a plan for a minimum level of federal tax in the state of Virginia during a TV debate

The comment appeared to be a tacit recognition of the part of the point that Romney was trying to make at the May fundraiser in Boca Raton, Florida - that too many people are dependent on the government without having a financial stake in how money is spent.

Republicans immediately leapt on the statement, which echoed that of Michelle Bachmann, the then Republican primary candidate, who said during the primaries: 'Everyone should pay something.'

Allen shot back: 'Well, it’s typical of Tim Kaine. As governor, he tried to raise taxes on people earning as little as $17,000 a year. He wanted to raise taxes on buying used cars.'

Pat Mullins, chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, said: 'Tim Kaine just can’t help himself. Anytime he has the opportunity to even talk about raising taxes, he does it.'

Kaine, a key ally of Barack Obama in 2008, and Allen had been neck and neck in the polls until this week when a Washington Post poll put Romney ahead by eight points and a Quinnipiac University-New York Times-CBS News poll by seven points.

After the debate, he swiftly tried to correct himself. 'David [Gregory, the moderator] asked me a question which is, would I be open to a discussion about something broader like that, and I said sure, I'd be open to it. 

'It shouldn't be news that somebody wants to go into the Senate that is willing to start with a position of openness and a dialogue.'

During the debate, Allen declined to endorse Romney's comments about those who don't pay income taxes, arguing that his push for welfare reform while he was  governor showed he cared about the poor.

'The best social programme of all is a job," he said. When the moderator asked him specifically if he agreed with Romney's statement that those who are on those programmes 'see themselves as victims' he demurred.

'No,' he said. 'I have my own point of view.'


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