The Budget Battles on Which His Reelection Depends

Hatred of taxes is not merely Republican policy. It is Republican theology. It goes back, in more or less current form, to 1978 and the right-wing populist uprising against property taxes in California led by the industrialist Howard Jarvis—the “Revolt of the Haves,” as the economics journalist Robert Kuttner dubbed it for a book he wrote on that year’s Proposition 13 fight. Then came Ronald Reagan. The great conservative hero did, in fact, raise taxes several times, as liberals love to point out, notably in a 1983 payroll tax increase to rescue Social Security. But Reagan also substantially lowered income tax rates.