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Local politics

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Spending frames Virginia debate

– In Virginia’s tight race for the U.S. Senate, the two former governors competing for the open seat sparred in a debate Thursday over the looming “fiscal cliff” and its impact on defense jobs.

The candidates – Republican George Allen, who is trying to reclaim the seat he lost six years ago, and Democrat Tim Kaine, former chairman of his national party – sparred over defense cuts that would kick in automatically in January if Congress fails to reach a budget agreement by year’s end.

These sequestration cuts would put thousands of Virginia-based defense jobs at risk. Allen said the automatic cuts would endanger not just jobs but the lives of military personnel.

“This is exactly why it is so dangerous and so wrong to be playing these political games with our armed services,” he said. Kaine countered, “Our ideas are not the problem; it’s the willingness to work together.”

Kaine said he supports the idea of increasing the number of people who pay income taxes, while Allen balked at raising taxes on anyone in this economy.

“I want to see people keep more of what they earn,” he said, adding that repealing the Affordable Care Act and guarding against wasteful government spending are more successful ways to help balance the budget.

Moderator David Gregory noted that a million Virginians pay no income tax.

The income tax discussion followed this week’s disclosure of presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s disparaging comments about the 47 percent of Americans who do not pay federal income taxes.

Asked his view on the comments, Allen demurred.

“I have my own point of view,” he said, without proving any specifics, other than “lower taxes creates more jobs.”

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