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How the Tea Party Raised Taxes How the Tea Party Raised Taxes

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How the Tea Party Raised Taxes

The great irony of the fiscal-cliff deal: The tea party forced the tax hike.


Activists raise flags and banners showing their support of the tea party ideology.(Chet Susslin)

The great irony of the fiscal cliff deal is this: The tea party forced the tax hike. Had the tea party, whose American Revolution-inspired name was all about tax cuts, not forced a fight over the debt ceiling, none of this would have happened. Yes, Obama's fierce urgency to raise rates on wealthier earners was an essential part of what happened. Surely, a President Romney wouldn't have allowed it. But by pushing the country to the brink in 2011, the tea party discovered the law of unintended consequences--forcing a sequester that Democrats argued, and Republicans tacitly conceded, required tax hikes.

(RELATED: Why the Tea Party Lives On)


Had there been no debt ceiling fight, would taxes have gone up anyway? Maybe. 

The Bush-era tax cuts were due to expire, true. But the threat of sequestration made the need for new revenues all the more urgent.  

 Without sequestration Republicans would have had a stronger hand to argue that extending the Bush cuts was the right thing to do--and something that president Obama readily agreed to in 2010. In other words, the threat of sequestration--which would not have loomed without the 2011 debt-ceiling fight--helped drive the tax hikes.


Now we have the first tax-rate hikes since 1993, albeit coupled with an Alternative Minimum Tax indexing and some other baubles. And unlike the Clinton era, when the hikes passed without a GOP vote, this time their fingerprints are on it. 

Democrats have long seen the effect of unintended consequences in social programs--welfare programs that hurt more than they helped, for instance. Now it's Republicans who lacked the foresight to see what they wrought--the very  tax hikes they so adamantly opposed. 

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