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Tax Hike Politics

This is how it works for most politicians: promise the world during the election, then scale down expectations afterward and deliver on what you can. It is another measure of the quixotic nature of Lincoln Chafee's bid for governor that we are seeing something like the opposite: propose an enormously unpopular idea during the campaign - a one percent sales tax on exempt items like food, clothing, and medicine - and then signal afterward that you might drop it.

There is some logic to all this: the tax proposal, however unpopular, did buttress Chafee's larger campaign theme - he's the straight talking, anti-politician (though he probably could have made the argument without the tax hike proposal). And he needs to gauge support in the powerful General Assembly - where Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed and some rank-and-file members have already signaled skepticism around the sales tax proposal - before blowing more political capital on the idea.

But the odd fate of the tax hike proposal is, nonetheless, indicative of just how much Chafee's candidacy - and his ascension to the throne - are scrambling the usual political calculus.

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