TPM’s got a great rundown on the GOP’s new thinking on taxes, as exemplified by the “We Are The 53%” campaign. I’m interested to see how it will play, and my guess is not well at all. The public generally dislikes tax cuts for the wealthy, so Republicans usually include at least some token amount of tax cuts for the middle class too. The middle class likes lower taxes for themselves and higher taxes for the wealthy, you don’t need any polls for that. But if the new Republican line becomes that half the country needs substantially higher taxes, I just don’t see how the public will continue to support Republicans anymore. What’s more, from a messaging level, this sentiment is much harder to get across than the Republicans’ current line (“No new taxes” is pretty succinct and easy to process), it is much more susceptible to being reduced to a damaging sound byte during election time, and it is based on a statistic that most people won’t automatically get. What this shows, really, is that for a substantial part of the GOP supply-siderism was never about what was economically optimal, so much as subtle class warfare. Now that Republicans have cultivated the extreme of the party so much, it’s becoming much more overt. They’re not ashamed of this stuff anymore, they’re proud of it. And that’s bad news for them.

Make no mistake: this is the sort of thing that could destroy the conservative coalition. Call it the Johnny Rotten effect: heightening the contradictions of an existing movement to such an extreme level that your followers have to go there to be credible, but once there they can’t appeal to the masses. Of course, Rotten’s plan was both intentional (he wanted to destroy rock music) and unsuccessful. But can the Tea Party succeed where Rotten didn’t? Yes, they can!

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