An excellent point from Kristina Wilfore who observes that if you want a decent test of the “tea party” movement you could do worse than to look at TABOR proposals that would put arbitrary caps on state government spending and force meaningful reductions in the size of government. Two such proposals were on the ballot last night in Washington and Maine and they lost:
A central tenant of the right-wing agenda has been rejected with the defeat of TABOR (known deceptively as the “taxpayer bill of rights”) in these two states – states that are diverse from each other in almost all respects. Maine’s measure went down with a resounding defeat, 60% to 40%, while Washington’s campaign came from behind with a 55% to 45% rebuff.
A few weeks ago, conservative columnist and tea party champion John Fund wrote in the WSJ that: “If voters in Maine or Washington state pass a taxpayer bill of rights, it will be a clear sign that even in blue states the public is coming to believe that government spending is out of control and that elected officials can no longer be trusted to rein it in. That’s a message that will likely reverberate in Congress regardless of who wins in the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial races.”
Iris Lav from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities notes that “by rejecting TABOR, officially Question 4 in Maine and I-1033 in Washington, voters have helped these states preserve needed public services and improve the business climate.”
It’s also worth emphasizing that the reason radical budget-cutters have started turning to TABOR ballot initiatives to get their way is that even politicians who like to talk about cutting government in the abstract don’t actually want to take responsibility for specific cuts. That’s why Bob McDonnell made sure to stay nice and vague about what he’ll actually do once he takes over in Virginia.