Tim Kaine: Why, yes, I'd be open to a minimum federal income tax for everyone

So, Mitt Romney was caught on video at a fundraiser pointing out that 47 percent of Americans don’t pay federal income taxes and “inelegantly” conflating that 47 percent with those who are voting Obama, saying they see themselves as “entitled” and “victims.”

The media talked about nothing but this video for days on end, grilling Republican candidates on how they feel about it, and mostly overlooking security and intelligence failures that led to the first murder of a U.S. Ambassador since 1979 in a Middle Eastern country roiled by violence.

Then, two former governors of Virginia faced off in their first televised debate, and a question about the “47 percent” video tripped up…the Democrat? Here’s Tim Kaine, unexpectedly saying he’d be open to a minimum federal income tax for everyone:

(Moderator David) GREGORY: Do you believe that everyone in Virginia should pay something in federal income tax?

KAINE: Well, everyone pays taxes, I mean, the statistics that have come out..

GREGORY: I’m asking about federal income taxes.

KAINE: I would be open to a proposal that would have some minimum tax level for everyone.

Kaine made the point after a lengthy discussion born out of Mitt Romney’s comments about 47 percent of Americans not paying federal income tax. Allen wasn’t surprised.

“It is typical of Tim Kaine,” Allen said. “As I mentioned his record is one of always looking to raise taxes.”

Kaine ended his statement with a jab at Mitt Romney and his tax returns, but the mistake had been made. Allen’s campaign, which has been dedicated to framing Kaine as a tax-hiker, happily jumped on the comment, sending out video of the comment entitled “What a Surprise. Tim Kaine Wants to Raise Taxes.”

Allen, no doubt prepared for the question, stayed on safer ground, saying he has his own “point of view:”

“I think that’s one of the attributes of all Americans, they don’t look at themselves as victims,” Allen, who has also served as Virginia’s governor, said during the debate. “They want a government that reflects their values and gives them an opportunity to reach their aspirations.”

Kaine went to the spin room to walk back his statement while Allen happily rubbed it in. The Kaine campaign blog delivered a lengthy explanation of Kaine’s comments, addressed rather narrowly for a state-wide election, to Slate‘s Dave Weigel.

Weigel thinks Kaine’s just not gosh-darned cynical enough to win an election in 2012, and was playing the part of the pragmatist to a fault. Perhaps. Kaine did make the rhetoric argument, casting himself as a “bridge builder” and Allen as a man who uses “competitive rhetoric, but that’s not what it’s going to take to fix Washington.”

Well, since he was doing this three years ago to people peacefully protesting Obamacare, yes, I guess he would have to work extra hard to strike that pragmatist pose for anyone to believe him.

Sorry it tripped you up, Timmy. Love, the Mob.

As much as I’d love for the country to have a substantial debate on broad tax reform— something I think Romney would do well to embrace and explain where Obama hasn’t—spare me any media pining for that serious conversation after a week of orgaffemic coverage of the Romney video. In the end, maybe Kaine’s goof-up could get us to talking reform, as he’s put up a firewall for Republicans asked this question from here on out.

“Well, Democratic senate candidate and former head of the DNC, Tim Kaine, believes we should just raise taxes so that everyone not now paying them, regardless of income, pays more. He and Obama are quite good friends, don’tcha know, and Obama picked him to head the DNC, but I digress. I don’t think we should go anywhere near where my Democratic friend thinks we should, but here’s what I do think about tax reform…”