The Tea Party demonstrations were right about one big thing: This is no time to be raising taxes.

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WEDNESDAY’S tax protests should not be brushed off — particularly not by state legislators contemplating tax increases.

Five thousand people rallied in Olympia Wednesday in opposition to more taxes. Others rallied in hundreds of places around the nation, making a point about federal spending and taxes, and also about state spending and taxes.

Some will discount all this by saying it was organized, or that the rally sprung from the fringe. Of course it was organized. All protests with people carrying signs and listening to speakers are organized.

But when organizers get 5,000 people to come to Olympia on a workday, it is evidence of a strong feeling. Some of the sentiment was extreme, but much was not. These were the largest protests there in years.

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The central idea was that government lay no greater burdens on the private person and the private sector. Always some people hold this opinion, but there is an imperative to it now.

The private sector has shrunk. In every major segment of private industry in Washington — construction, manufacturing, finance, real estate, business services, retail, wholesale and now even health care — fewer people have jobs. Each month, the number of people employed shrinks.

At a time like this, you don’t raise taxes — because raising taxes is demanding more, and there isn’t any more. There is less. Many people are already dealing with less in meeting their own obligations: house payments, car payments, tuition payments. Many working people are trying to pay their way out of credit-card debt. Government should not add to the people’s economic hurt.

But government is also hurting, and wants to shift the hurt somewhere else. The latest idea is a 0.3-point increase in the state sales tax, offered by Rep. Eric Pettigrew, D-Seattle, chairman of the House Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee.

Pettigrew’s idea comes less than a month after the sales tax in his district was raised to 9.5 percent generally, and 10 percent on prepared food, because of last November’s vote on Sound Transit. Pettigrew’s bill would raise those rates to 9.8 percent and 10.3 percent for three years.

It is too much. On this point, the demonstrators are right: This is no time to raise taxes on an already strained populace.

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