Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Our eyebrows shot up Tuesday when Bob McDonnell told us he wasn’t going to sign any pledge not to raise taxes.

He is the Republican nominee for governor of Virginia. Usually it is the Democratic nominee who wants to keep his options open.

But there goes Bob stammering about the problems pledges pose. “I don’t know. I’ve taken it before. I get so many of those pledges right now. People want me to pledge this or pledge that. I’ve been a firm believer that I’m gonna tell you exactly what I think … that I’m going to stick to my word. I did that when I ran for attorney general. I said, ‘These are seven things that I’m going to do,’ and we got all seven of them done, and so I’m getting so many questionnaires that want me to pledge this, that and the other. I may not take … probably will not do that, but I will tell you exactly what I think, because I’ve answered your questions today, and I will tell you that I have no plans to raise taxes.”

No plans to raise taxes? That answer has too much wiggle room for us.

The rest of Mr. McDonnell’s answer doesn’t make sense, either. The anti-tax-increase pledge is a guaranteed vote-getter. That’s why office seekers sign it every election. In what everyone expects will be a razor-thin race, it is strange to give away a real political advantage.

But, we thought, maybe we misunderstood the fast-talking former prosecutor.

So our intrepid videographer buttonholed Mr. McDonnell on his way out of The Washington Times’ offices. She asked why he hasn’t released a tax-cut plan. Check out the video. Watching Mr. McDonnell sputter and sway is more revealing than the long-winded, fast-paced answer he offers.

So we still don’t know what Mr. McDonnell plans to do on taxes. He told us he is considering, maybe, possibly proposing a temporary cut in the corporate tax rate along with other ideas. His tax-cut plan is “not ready for prime time,” he admits.

Meanwhile, Mr. McDonnell is campaigning as a “jobs governor.” Most of his published ideas on job creation amount to more spending on schools and infrastructure. Sounds like a boon to unions. Where are the private-sector jobs?

The only way to create real jobs is to cut taxes. The income-tax burden is lower in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and the Carolinas. To make matters worse, Virginia is one of the few states to tax personal cars and capital gains. That’s no way to woo job creators.

Certainly Mr. McDonnell has a fine record on taxes. As a lawmaker from Virginia Beach, he voted for about 50 tax cuts, collectively saving taxpayers more than $2 billion. Why doesn’t he build on it with a pro-jobs tax cut?

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