Note: "Make It Easier to Raise Taxes" is Not a Tea Party Theme

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 6 2010 10:46 AM

Note: "Make It Easier to Raise Taxes" is Not a Tea Party Theme

Fred Barnes wrote a pre-election Weekly Standard cover on the vulnerability of Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Ca.), so it's good to see him going back to the state to explain why Republicans were obliterated like an underdog sports team in the first act of a bad movie. His analysis, however, doesn't make a ton of sense.

It’s the initiatives that provide a ray of hope for Republicans and conservatives. Liberal initiatives that passed didn’t rely on liberal arguments. Abolishing the requirement for a two-thirds majority in the legislature to enact a budget was promoted by attacking the political class in Sacramento, a Tea Party theme. The bid to suspend the Global Warming Act was defeated by demonizing Texas oil interests who oppose reductions in greenhouse gases. And the co-chair of the campaign to keep the act alive was none other than George P. Shultz, Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state and, at age 90, a figure of eminence among California Republicans.

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How are these not "liberal arguments"? The anti-Prop 23 campaign was obviously liberal/green/etc. California's two-thirds requirement for passing budgets is not seen as a Tea Party goal, because everyone knows that it's made the state ungovernable. But it is a Tea Party goal to make it harder to raise taxes and pass budgets. The movement, and most Republicans, back a new Balanced Budget amendment which would restrict the ability of the federal government to do deficit spending. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) is in favor of an amendment that would require a supermajority for any tax increase, which is basically what Californians did away with. I guess it's interesting that liberals campaigned against it by attacking Sacramento, but when was the last election when candidates didn't campaign against Sacramento? Pretty sure the state was still owned by Spain at that point. It's definitely telling that a lawmaker-limiting, "anti-tax" provision like the budget supermajority could go down in the Year of the Tea Party.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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