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MEMO: The Record George Allen Wants You To Forget

To: Interested Parties
From: Matt Thornton, Senior Communications Adviser, American Bridge 21st Century
Date: 6/12/2012
RE: The record George Allen wants you to forget

In 2006, Virginia voters unceremoniously ousted George Allen from office. Six years later, Allen has portrayed himself as a Tea Party proselyte in his bid to return to the Senate. But even a cursory look at his record as senator and governor should be enough to convince voters that Allen is a big spender who can’t be trusted to address our nation’s budget problems responsibly.

Despite his rhetoric about “reigning in” state spending, Allen increased Virginia’s budget by billions, contributing to unprecedented deficits. As senator, he supported the budget-busting policies of the Bush administration which are among the primary drivers of our annual deficits. Though Allen is responsible for helping create the nation’s budget woes, he now supports policies that would exacerbate the problem by cutting taxes for the nation’s wealthiest citizens and most profitable corporations.

And while Allen has been an unabashed advocate of spending, deficits, and earmarks, he can’t seem to take a tangible position on important issues like paycheck fairness.

George Allen may have convinced Republican primary voters that he deserves another shot, but come November he’ll receive a message from independents in terms that he can understand: when you drop the ball that many times, you don’t get to go back in the game.

BACKGROUND:

State Debt and Deficit

Virginia’s Budget Grew 40.7% During Allen’s Term As Governor. “When Allen took office in January 1994, he inherited an overall $14.7 billion budget for the state fiscal year that started the previous July 1. At the end of his term in January 1998, he left behind a $20.7 billion proposed budget for the fiscal year that started the following July 1. That means Allen endorsed $6 billion in additional spending when he was governor — a 40.7 percent increase.” [PolitiFact Virginia, 9/12/11]

Washington Post Editorial: Allen And Gilmore “Managed to Stick Virginia with Unprecedented Deficits.” In a staff editorial, the Washington Post wrote, “[Allen and Gilmore’s] collective financial record during a period of extraordinary economic growth managed to stick Virginia with unprecedented deficits that Mr. Warner has spent most of his time trying to erase. Mr. Allen was fortunate to enjoy boom years during his term. But he pushed for a tax cut that the General Assembly turned back when business leaders objected strongly. They said the cut would have done serious damage to the financing of education, which would harm Virginia’s reputation as having a first-class education system and in turn hurt efforts to attract and retain businesses. Mr. Allen also incurred substantial debt service costs with bonds for extensive prison construction. He turned to cuts for the Virginia Department of Transportation, leaving it underfunded and poorly managed, papering over cost overruns and running up debt service to a level that by 2006 may reach 9 percent of the transportation budget.” [Washington Post, 12/22/03]

PolitiFact: Allen’s Claim That He Reined In State Spending Is False. “Republican George Allen is promising his unrelenting effort to curb federal spending if he’s elected to the U.S. Senate next year. He says he’ll bring to Washington the same kind of ‘sweeping reform’ he brought to Virginia as governor from 1994 to 1998. His campaign web site says that when Allen was governor, ‘He challenged critics and sentiment that suggested it couldn’t be done, reining in government spending and substantially reducing the size of the state workforce’…Allen could accurately say he fought to curb spending. But Allen says he reined it in. That creates an impression the bottom line shrank or was stunted in growth. We rate the statement False.” [PolitiFact Virginia, 9/12/11]

Deficits Don’t Matter

Allen On Federal Spending During His Senate Term: “Yeah, It Was A Problem In Those Years.”  “But Kaine displayed discipline by repeatedly returning to Allen’s own six-year voting record in Washington. During one of the two instances in which the candidates addressed each other directly, Kaine actually drew out a rare concession from the Republican. ‘When Tim talks about spending in the years I was in the Senate, yeah, it was a problem in those years,’ Allen said, quickly noting that he voted against the infamous Bridge to Nowhere.” [POLITICO,12/7/11]

Richmond Times-Dispatch Fact Check: Debt Increased $16,896.68 Per Second During Allen’s Tenure. According to The Richmond Times Dispatch: “[Jamie] Radtke said the Allen voted for budgets that increased the debt by $16,400 every second he was in the Senate. Her formula was a bit flawed; the actual figure is $16,896.68 a second.” [The Richmond Times Dispatch, 1/24/11]

Allen Acknowledged Voting for Bush Administration Budgets That Increased the Deficit. In response to the question “You voted for the single largest deficits in history, did you not?” Allen said “I voted for those appropriations bills, and I also…I tried to stop some of the spending.” [CNN, “Parker/Spitzer,” 10/26/10]

Bush Tax Cuts

Allen Voted For Passage Of The 2003 Bush Tax Cuts. Allen voted for the adoption of the conference report on the bill that would provide $350 billion in tax breaks over 11 years. It would provide $20 billion in state aid that consists of $10 billion for Medicaid and $10 billion to be used at states’ discretion. The agreement includes a new top tax rate of 15 percent on capital gains and dividends through 2007 (5 percent for lower-income taxpayers in 2007 and no tax in 2008). Income tax cuts enacted in 2001 and scheduled to take effect in 2006 would be accelerated. The child tax credit would increase to $1,000 through 2004. The standard deduction for married couples would be double that for a single filer through 2004. Tax breaks for businesses would include increasing the deduction that small businesses could take on investments to $100,000 through 2005. Note: A ‘yea’ was a vote in support of the president’s position. The United Auto Workers and the Alliance for Retired Americans were opposed, while the US Chamber of Commerce supported the bill. [Vote 196, HR 2, 5/23/03, Passed 50-50, D: 2-46, R: 48-3, I: 0-1]

Allen Voted For Senate Passage Of The 2001 Bush Tax Cut. Allen voted for final passage of the Senate’s version of the Bush Tax Cut Plan. The bill provided a total of $1.347 trillion in tax cuts through fiscal year (FY) 2011, with its provisions due to sunset at the close of FY 2011. Every tax bracket was cut by the bill, except for the 15-percent bracket, which did not receive a rate reduction. [Vote #165, 5/23/2001]

CBO: One-Third of The Bush Tax Cuts Went To People With the Top 1% of Income, Who Earn On Average $1.2 Million. “Fully one-third of President Bush’s tax cuts in the last three years have gone to people with the top 1 percent of income, who have earned an average of $1.2 million annually, according to a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office to be published Friday… The new estimates confirm what independent tax analysts have long said: that Mr. Bush’s tax cuts have been heavily skewed to the very wealthiest taxpayers.” [Washington Post, 8/13/04]

Supported the Debt Ceiling

The Washington Times: “Mr. Allen Has Experience With The Federal Debt Ceiling, Having Voted Four Times To Raise It To Support Spending Plans Of President George W. Bush.” According to Washington Times: “Mr. Allen has experience with the federal debt ceiling, having voted four times to raise it to support spending plans of President George W. Bush.” [Washington Times, “Allen at Home on ‘Us Against Washington’ Team; Record Could Crimp Tea Party Backing for Senate,” 5/29/11]

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial: “The Public Ought to Know that Allen Voted to Raise the Debt Ceiling”. In May 2011, a Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial criticized Allen, Kaine and Radtke for negative campaigning and said that ‘the public ought to know that Allen voted to raise the debt ceiling.’ According to The Richmond Times-Dispatch, “The other day George Allen, who lost his Senate seat to the now-retiring Jim Webb and who wants it back, made some remarks about the need to link an increase in the debt ceiling to meaningful spending cuts. Former Gov. Tim Kaine, the likely Democratic nominee for the seat, issued a press release blasting Allen for voting to raise the debt ceiling back when he was in the Senate. “Perhaps the guy who helped create the problem is not the best person to give advice on how to fix it,” said Kaine’s spokesman. Naturally the Allen camp fired back. Rather than explain Allen’s positions then and now, it tore into Kaine for “defend[ing] the status quo of out-of-control spending and record deficits,” which wasn’t entirely accurate. Tea-party activist Jamie Radke blasted both sides. Pollyannas and naifs sometimes say politicians never should utter an unkind word. In fact, negative campaign ads usually convey more information than positive ads, which tend to feature the candidate striding manfully across a meadow with his adoring family in tow while a superimposed flag waves in the background. The public ought to know that Allen voted to raise the debt ceiling, and that Kaine supported tax hikes. Still. Voters will not pick a replacement for Webb for another 18 months. Let’s hope the candidates offer more elevated discussion of the issues once in a while. The shin-kicking stuff is going to get awfully old.” [Richmond Times Dispatch, 5/23/11]

Proud of Every Single Earmark

Allen: “Every Single Earmark I’ve Gotten, I’m Proud Of.” “George Allen, a deservedly popular Virginia governor before he moved on to the U.S. Senate, pretty clearly aspires to the presidency. Alas, his recent remarks at a Chesterfield County high school suggest that his flight path to the Oval Office is aboard the common carrier Air Pork. Allen, a Republican, told the crowd that he favored the congressional practice of ‘earmarking’ legislation — that is, attaching funding for home-state (or -district) projects to larger bills without subjecting the add-ons to normal budgetary scrutiny. ‘Every single earmark I’ve gotten, I’m proud of,’ the senator said.” [Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, 3/25/06]

PolitiFact: Claim That Allen Voted For 40,000 Earmarks Is “Mostly True.” According to PolitiFact, “Radtke claims that Allen, during his term in the Senate, voted for 40,000 earmarks. We have one quibble. Allen did not vote on the earmarks individually. The items were attached to massive appropriations bills supported by Allen that kept the federal government operating. The earmarks amounted to less than 3 percent of the spending contained in those laws. But unlike a few lawmakers, Allen never protested the secretive earmark process by voting against an appropriations bill. He went along with the system and said he was ‘proud’ of the earmarks he got for Virginia. The appropriations bills Allen backed had 52,319 earmarks, according to the Citizens Against Government Waste. Radtke attaches a smaller number to Allen, but we won’t penalize her for understating her case. So Radtke’s statement is accurate but needs clarification. We rate it Mostly True.” [PolitiFact, 4/18/12]

Paycheck Fairness

Washington Times: Allen Has Declined “To Take Definitive Stands” On Issues Like Measure Intended To Make It Easier For Women To Achieve Pay Equity. According to the Washington Times, “[Allen] has largely ignored charges from both the right and the left that he was a willing enabler of Washington‘s profligate spending during the two terms of President George W. Bush. He has also declined Democrats’ calls for him to take definitive stands on lightning-rod issues for the GOP- a measure Congress is weighing that is intended to make it easier for women to achieve pay equity, for example.” [Washington Times, 6/11/12]

Allen Wouldn’t Say How He Would Vote On The Paycheck Fairness Act. According to the Washington Post, “Timothy M. Kaine (D) has made clear he supports the Paycheck Fairness Act, which is designed to update the 1963 Equal Pay Act. Fellow former governor George Allen, the likely Republican nominee in the race to succeed retiring Sen. James Webb (D), won’t say how he would vote if he were in the Senate now, though his campaign says he is clearly the better choice for women.” [Washington Post, 5/25/12]

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Allen So On Message “It Borders On Robotic” While He Artfully Dodges Controversy. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “Traveling the state bashing ‘Obamacare,’ what he calls the Obama administration’s ‘job-killing regulations’ and the government’s ‘unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats’ while touting his own ‘Blueprint for America’s Comeback,’ Allen sometimes seems so on-message that it borders on robotic. He’s also artfully dodged controversy, sidestepping positions on issues that could be used against him, such as the much-maligned budget plan of Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Budget Committee, the contentious ultrasound bill that the state legislature passed this year, and most recently, The Paycheck Fairness Act before Congress.” [Richmond Times-Dispatch, 6/1/12]