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Come Saturday Morning: Are Tax Hikes No Longer a Political Third Rail?

Photo by Ancheta Wis; from

The Democrats in the California State Senate, following the lead of the California State Assembly, pulled their acts together to approve the release of funds for a high-speed rail line, thus doing a major deed in working to save the Once-Golden State from further devolving into a backwards hellhole:

The vote just happened and we won – by a vote of 21-16, the high speed rail funds have been released. Governor Jerry Brown is expected to sign SB 1029 in the near future. Key “yes” votes came from Leland Yee, reportedly a “no” earlier, Noreen Evans, and from Gloria Negrete McLeod. Our thanks go out to all those State Senators (all Democrats) who voted yes to move California into a cleaner, more sustainable future.

As David Dayen noted yesterday, this was a do-or-die vote: It was either get high-speed rail started now, or never. That enough centrist Democrats could be found that were willing to be called nasty names by Republicans is something of a minor miracle in this austerity-obsessed, Pete-Peterson-and-Grover-Norquist-bamboozled country, where tax hikes are supposedly far more of a political third rail than is Social Security.

Or are they?

Consider this recent Huffington Post article on how more Republicans are openly resisting Grover Norquist’s efforts to get them to take his no-tax-hike pledge. When even Republicans are starting to put fiscal reality over bigotry cloaked in the language of deficit hawkery, you know that there’s a change in the air.

So when Romney uses taxes to try to scare people — and lies about it so obviously that even major media can’t help but point out the wrongness of his statements in the opening grafs of their stories on the subject — he’s probably making a big, big mistake.

This would be a major development as it would go against the conventional wisdom. The 1993 Clinton tax hike that saved the economy and which helped lead to the Clinton Boom is also what has been blamed for the Democrats losing Congress in 1994, and to this day Democratic veterans of that time often react with shudders when talking about 1994. It would be nice to see that conventional wisdom finally proved wrong.

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