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Raise Taxes in a Recession?

Like the Beltway Democrats, Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds seems oblivious to the idea that government shouldn’t be raising taxes in a recession. In his first debate with opponent Bob McDonnell, Deeds may have made two costly errors — sounding like he’s winging it and leaving the door open to new taxes. This report explains:

Deeds said he would make transportation a top priority in his first year in office, saying “there’s no quicker way to create jobs and create economic prosperity in every corner of the commonwealth.”

But when McDonnell asked him whether he would increase taxes, Deeds was evasive.

“A lot of options are going to be on the table,” Deeds said. “I’m not going to presume what will or will not pass the General Assembly next year.”

McDonnell hammered on Deeds’ answer, telling the Democrat: “You don’t have a plan. You haven’t suggested one dime.”

Pressed further on the issue by reporters after the debate, Deeds said: “I’m running for governor, I’m not running for dictator.”

“A specific funding source would be a lightning rod,” Deeds said. “I’m not prepared to throw up any lightning rods.”

McDonnell said he would not raise taxes, saying, “I don’t think the people of Virginia could sustain another tax increase.”

I imagine this will make its way into a campaign ad or two. Even the Washington Post, usually a cheerleader for Democrats in Virginia general elections, can’t conceal Deeds’s poor outing:

McDonnell was on the offensive for much of the 80-minute debate, repeatedly pressing Deeds to take positions on federal measures that would limit greenhouse gas emissions and make it easier for unions to organize, both of which McDonnell said would hurt state businesses. McDonnell also knocked Deeds for refusing to propose a specific plan to pay for transportation fixes.

Following his superbly run primary race against better known and funded candidates, Deeds disappeared from public view. One would imagine he was honing his message and developing policies. But judging from his first significant outing since early June, he did not put the time to good use. Is it any wonder state business leaders who backed his Democratic predecessors are sitting on the sidelines? There is plenty of time before Election Day, but Deeds will have to do better than this if he is to break the run of elections dating back to 1977 in which the party that won the White House lost the Virginia gubernatorial race.