There's nothing like the prospect of an electoral rout to concentrate the incumbent mind, and so all of a sudden rank-and-file Democrats in Congress are saying maybe they shouldn't let the 2003 tax rates expire after all. Now if they can only persuade their Speaker of the House, the Treasury Secretary and President Obama.
The revelation that tax increases could hurt the economy has recently been heard from Senators Evan Bayh of Indiana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and, most surprising, even from Kent Conrad of North Dakota. On a scale of unlikely events, this is like the Pope coming out against celibacy. As Senate Budget Chairman, Mr. Conrad has rarely seen a tax increase he didn't like, but this week he averred that "As a general rule, you don't want to be cutting spending or raising taxes in the midst of a downturn."