Thursday, October 30, 2003

Making an example of Alabama

Hesiod has been a good advocate lately for the argument that Democrats should not run away from the "raise taxes" issue. In the comments section a poster named Derelict talks about the repeatedly sited example of the failed attempt to raise taxes in Alabama:

Ah, be happy about Alabama. Be very happy about it. Because Alabama (a red state, if I remember) will be next year's poster child for just how fucked up the no-tax people are. It will stand as Norquist's Pyrhhic Victory--a triumph he coordinated that will come crashing down around his ears.

The budget cuts that went through in Alabama last month (September) were just the beginning. Next year is going to really show what's what. Almost 6,000 teachers will be getting the axe, with projected class sizes heading for more than 40 kids per.

The State Trooper force will be chopped, and the troopers will be restricted to about 50 miles of driving per day, according to one source in Alabama.

Thousands of criminals will be released, and the courts and municipal police will be cut drastically.

And so it goes. By this time next year, Joe Average Alabaman will really be seeing what his NO vote meant. And so will the rest of the country. Holding Alabama up as an example of what excessive tax cutting can do will make a great illustration for any Democrat who advocates more Federal revenues.

Neither Joe Average Alabaman nor Joe Average American will see these results if Democrats don't loudly highlight them. The secret of the Republicans long-term success is that the Democrats have run away from the fight instead of making it clear just what are the consequences of the "cut taxes cut taxes cut taxes" strategy. For Democrats to win on this issue they have to make it clear to people just what it is they are giving up if they continue to hold on to their Bush tax cuts.

Derelict has it right that Alabama could prove a useful example for a national campaign. Talk about how the voters of Alabama were unwilling to raise their taxes and are now suffering the consequences. Then ask the voters if they want to suffer the same fate.

The choice has to be presented in the clearest terms to the electorate. Alabama might not appreciate being turned into a national poster child for anti-tax fever, but then the Democrats don't have much chance of winning their anyway.

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