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Kaine up with new ad one day before last debate

A day before Virginia’s candidates for U.S. Senate meet in their last debate of the campaign, Democrat Tim Kaine is out with a new ad criticizing Republican George Allen on economic policy.

The ad, which says Allen will “make things worse,”  is harsher than most of Kaine’s recent ads, which were largely positive ads on his own record. (See the ad here).

The ad blames Allen for a host of ills, saying he “turned a surplus into a deficit” during his previous term in the Senate and that now his proposals would “increase the deficit a trillion dollars” and “risk thousands of Virginia defense jobs to give tax cuts to the wealthy.”

The trillion-dollar deficit increase accusation is rooted in Allen’s position against the Affordable Care Act. Allen wants to repeal it, and says doing so would save money; Kaine said repealing the ACA would cost money, a claim he bases on Congressional Budget Office estimates, which is the basis for the ad’s claim that Allen’s proposals would hugely increase the deficit.

The line about defense jobs and tax cuts for the wealthy comes from Allen’s opposition to the debt ceiling deal reached last year by members of Congress. That deal raised the debt ceiling but put in place a harsh package of budget cuts, including billions of dollars from defense, that would kick in this coming January. Congress had hoped the proposed cuts would be enough of a threat to spur compromise on a different and more palatable way to reduce the federal debt. But so far it has not — the only result is that politicians in both parties, now running for election, blame the other side for the looming cuts.

It’s become an issue in the Virginia Senate race, even though neither candidate was in office to vote for the deal last year. Kaine supported the debt deal, although he says he didn’t want the budget cuts to actually happen as proposed, because he says otherwise, the U.S. could have gone into default. Allen opposed it, and has criticized Kaine for supporting it. Allen also opposes including new revenues — i.e. tax increases — in any deal to reduce the debt or deficit. That includes opposition to letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire on top earners. Kaine advocates new revenues in addition to spending cuts, and wants to let the Bush tax cuts expire on those making more than $500,000 a year.

That’s how the Kaine ad ties defense cuts to wealthy tax cuts — because Allen doesn’t want to increase taxes on the wealthy to reach a deal that could avert the defense cuts.

Kaine spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine said the ad highlights “a stark choice in this election between Tim Kaine’s proven record of fiscal responsibility and George Allen’s record of turning a surplus into a massive deficit and paving the way for an economic disaster. Unfortunately, George Allen’s current policies are no different.  He’s once again pledging to maintain costly tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and big oil companies while slashing education, defense, Medicare and other key priorities, making our businesses, middle class, and national economy weaker, not stronger.

The Allen response, from spokeswoman Emily Davis:

“Tim Kaine must think that if he skews enough data, somehow Virginians won’t notice that he has championed the run up of over $5 Trillion to the national debt, tried to raise taxes on those making as little as $17,000 and lost 100,000 jobs as Governor.  Tim Kaine has proven that his solution to nearly every problem is to raise taxes, which will only create more job losses. After calling the failed Washington sequestration deal the ‘right thing to do,’ Tim Kaine is willing to use our military and over 200,000 Virginia jobs as political bargaining tools for tax increases on job-creators. George Allen’s record proves that he knows his job is to fight for Virginians’ jobs, helping create over 300,000 Virginia jobs as Governor and supporting tax relief that helped grow 7 million American jobs as Senator. George Allen is the steady leader Virginia needs to stop these cuts that will harm hundreds of thousands of Virginia jobs.”

The Virginia Senate race is turning into an expensive one; both campaigns have devoted several million dollars to advertising alone, while outside groups have spent more than $26 million to influence the race, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. (You can look at the CRP’s data on the outside groups’ spending on this race here:

The two candidates will face off directly for the last time Thursday night at a debate at Virginia Tech. The debate is expected to be carried live by C-SPAN, and either broadcast or live-streamed by other stations, including co-host WSLS in Roanoke.