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Food Taxes For Thought

Businessman Bill Maloney went after acting West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin today, calling on the Democratic gubernatorial nominee and the state Legislature to eliminate the state's food tax.

"Earl Ray Tomblin and his pals created this tax and let it eat away at family budgets for 20 years," Maloney said in a release. "Reducing the food tax by a penny here or a penny there isn't leadership. West Virginia families deserve immediate and total relief from this unfair tax. We must end the food tax now."

But what Maloney doesn't mention in the release is that Tomblin, his opponent in the state's gubernatorial race, fought successfully earlier this year to cut the food tax from 3 percent to 2 percent -- and has said he hoped to eliminate it completely in 2012 if the economy continued sufficiently.

"We need results in government, not more of the same," said Maloney. "Earl Ray Tomblin hasn't led on this issue. I will."

Maloney's spokesperson Matt Dabrowski argued that reducing the tax earlier this year was too little, too late. Leadership "isn't about incremental actions eventually getting rid of an objectionable tax," said Dabrowski. "Bill Maloney's saying that we need leadership on this issue, we need to get rid of this tax. Not over 5 years or 10 years or 15 years. If a tax is onerous and hurts West Virginians it ought to go. If it's costing us jobs, it ought to go -- and it ought to go today."

The exchange also shows how little room there is between two the candidates. Going after an opponent on food taxes is not exactly a blockbuster attack. Their narratives are different -- Tomblin is a longtime political insider while Maloney has never held public office -- but on a number of issues, their views are not that far apart.

The state's special gubernatorial election will take place on October 4.

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