by digby

Speaking about the House health care bill, the "moderate" Olympia Snowe sounds off:

"I do not know what world they live in," Snowe said in an interview. "But all I know is it is totally detached from the average person, the average business owner who is struggling to keep their doors open and to have that level of taxation is breathtaking in its dimensions. I just think it is so out of proportion with reality and with mainstream America that it is hard to believe, frankly."

On a day when the $1 trillion House bill picked up support from key interest groups -- which, in turn, prompted President Barack Obama to make a personal visit to the White House press room to tout the endorsements -- Snowe's words are a reminder of the dissent surrounding the bill.

Are those comments really in touch with mainstream America?

Out of all of the election results from yesterday, the anti-tax ballot measures in Maine and Washington (known as TABOR) provide a better political tea leaf into voter attitudes going into the 2010 election cycle than anything else. The good news is, progressives won big on a topic that will likely define the nature of the midterm election.

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."

I don't think Snowe or the rest of her colleagues are listening. Unless she thinks that her own voters in Maine are outside the mainstream, reflexive tax aversion is not mainstream anymore. People are getting that government without revenue results in falling bridges and lousy schools and crime and bad health care. The anti-tax fervor of the Age of Reagan is ending and the automatic rejection of anything to do with taxes almost seems anachronistic in an era when the least of most workers' problems is taxes and businesses see them as a problem they only wished they had because it would mean they are profitable.

The right may be able to persuade a certain number that their problems are all being caused by government spending. I have no doubt that some people are more than willing to believe that. But the American people are logically far more frustrated that their government isn't doing enough to fix the problems that have put them where they are today, which is insecure in their homes and clinging to their jobs with no ability to bargain because they so desperately need a check and health insurance. And that's if they're lucky enough to have homes and jobs in the first place.

The problem is that conservatives are out of the mainstream and they refuse to accept it.



As Washington reels from the news of 10.2 percent unemployment, the Center for Responsive Politics is out with a new report describing the wealth of members of Congress.

Among the highlights: Two-hundred-and-thirty-seven members of Congress are millionaires. That’s 44 percent of the body – compared to about 1 percent of Americans overall.

“Many Americans probably have a sense that members of Congress aren’t hurting, even if their government salary alone is in the six figures, much more than most Americans make,” said CRP spokesman Dave Levinthal. “What we see through these figures is that many of them have riches well beyond that salary, supplemented with securities, stock holdings, property and other investments.”

And let's face facts: if you don't have a million while you're in office, there are a boatload of incentives to ensure you're in a position to make that kind of money if you retire. It's an excellent resume builder.