The Coming Tax Revolt?

Jonah writes:

Just something to ponder. For a couple years now, there's been a growing chorus of pundits, analysts and -- most significantly -- conservative reformers who've claimed to one degree or another that the GOPs anti-tax posture has lost its political salience. There are good arguments on that score, and bad ones. But it seems to me that the tax issue is on its way back. And while nothing is certain, I think it's reasonable to argue that the obituaries for tax cuts as a winning issue for Republicans were almost surely premature.

Speaking as one of those conservative reformers, I'd make two points. First, nobody was saying that tax cuts couldn't potentially become politically salient again if the Republicans got clobbered repeatedly at the polls and a sizable Democratic majority enacted large tax increases. The point - which Reihan and I started making in 2005, back when the GOP's hold on government still seemed reasonably strong - was that it would be nice to prevent that sort of thing from happening, and that an anti-tax message alone was insufficient to the task of forestalling a Republican collapse. In this regard, I don't feel like our obituary was premature; I think it's been largely vindicated by events.

Second, while I'm sure that the long-term costs of the Obama agenda will create space for a renewed anti-tax message, I'm less convinced about the short run - especially if the cap-and-trade bill, which seems like the aspect of his agenda most likely to court short-term backlash, goes down to defeat. Maybe Jonah's right, but I'd like to see his evidence.  

Ross Douthat is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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