‘Contain the scope of the debate”: This has been a key element of the Democratic strategy to enact Big Government health reform. As long as voters perceive the issue as a nice, neat, four-cornered proposal to expand health coverage, the liberals who control Congress will win. Polls confirm that Americans want Congress to expand, even guarantee, access to health care for all.
But when the parameters of this debate expand beyond health care, conservatives have a fighting chance. Once voters pick up the scent of other issues — a whiff of higher taxes and deficits, more debt passed on to our kids and grandkids, a loss of personal freedom, stagnant wages and job insecurity, profound moral concerns relating to life, not to mention an unprecedented intrusion of government into our lives — liberals finds themselves on their heels.
Tuesday’s election results suggest that America’s normally quiescent and politically independent middle class may have reached its limit. Burghers quietly lit torches and lifted pitchforks in precisely the sort of jurisdictions that provided the political oomph behind the Democrats’ successes in 2006 and 2008. Democratic candidates either lost or underperformed in Northern Virginia, Westchester County (N.Y.), suburban Philadelphia, and throughout that most suburban of all states, New Jersey.
Crucial to this turnaround was the appeal to independents of the two Republican gubernatorial candidates. In both Virginia and New Jersey, the GOP carried these voters by two-to-one margins. Why? My guess is that it’s all about taxes, debt, and too much government.
These areas, after all, rank among the most heavily taxed and regulated jurisdictions in America. According to data compiled by the Tax Foundation, 15 of the 25 counties with the heaviest property-tax burdens in America are in New Jersey. And Virginia’s Arlington, Loudoun, and Fairfax counties are not far behind.
New Jersey governor-elect Chris Christie won overwhelming majorities or held his own in all 15 of those counties. Meanwhile, Virginia governor-elect Bob McDonnell did well in Arlington and Loudoun, and actually carried true-blue Fairfax county by 51 percent to 49 percent.
Excessive taxation isn’t a problem just at the county level. In New Jersey, upper-middle-class voters also shoulder one of the heaviest state-income-tax burdens. The Garden State’s top marginal tax rate now exceeds 10 percent.