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Cuccinelli takes page from Romney playbook with new tax plan


Ken Cuccinelli, Republicans’ candidate for governor in Virginia, unveiled a major new tax plan on Tuesday, and it very much resembles proposals by GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and congressional Republicans from over the past year.

Cuccinelli debuted a new plan that would cut about $1.4 billion in taxes, namely by making major reductions to the state’s personal income and corporate tax rates. The Virginia attorney general’s plan would cut the personal income tax rate to 5 percent (down from 5.75 percent) and reduce the corporate tax rate to 4 percent (from 6 percent).

Cuccinelli sold his “Economic Growth and Virginia Jobs Plan” as a way to not only cap government spending in Virginia, but to also ease the burden on Virginia taxpayers and encourage new business investment.

Of course, it’s hardly unusual to hear a high-profile Republican candidate for office call for a regimen of tax cuts during the height of campaigns. But Cuccinelli’s similarities to many contemporary Republicans extends to the way in which he would finance the cost of the tax cuts, as well.

Per the website for Cuccinelli’s plan, the attorney general would help offset the $1.4 billion price tag for his tax cuts by indentifying and eliminating “outdated exemptions and loopholes that promote crony capitalism.”

Steve Helber / Steve Helber / AP file photo

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli gestures as he talks about the Supreme Court decision on the Health Care law during a press conference Thursday, June 28, 2012 in Richmond, Va.

That’s an approach remarkably similar to the kind preferred by Romney during his presidential campaign last year, and subsequently by congressional Republicans during their negotiations with President Barack Obama over the automatic tax hikes that almost took effect this year as part of the “fiscal cliff.”

Romney and the GOP lawmakers each largely declined to specify the exact loopholes and deductions they would target as part of their reforms. Because of the few details about the specifics of their plans, it made it difficult for analysts to account for the exact price tag of their tax proposals. Moreover, in the case of Romney, he was left vulnerable to charges that his plan would actually result in higher taxes for many middle class Americans, since if some of the costliest tax deductions – for instance, the home mortgage interest deduction – were eliminated, it would disproportionately affect middle class households.

A spokeswoman for Cuccinelli said that a task force called for by the plan would be put in charge of adding greater detail about which exemptions the gubernatorial candidate would eliminate to meet his target.

But in a campaign against Democrat Terry McAuliffe that has already become a murky battle of volleying characterizations about the other candidate and his proposals, it’s not hard to imagine the Cuccinelli plan becoming a ripe target for McAuliffe, unless more meat is added to the plan’s bones.

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