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Did health care 'tax' just blow up California's careful budget plans?

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“The stars seem to be aligning against the passage of Brown’s November tax initiative,” says Jack Pitney, professor of government at Claremont McKenna College.

Others point out Brown’s isn’t the only tax idea on the ballot, and will suffer as a result. 

"Californians face a crowded ballot in November ... with competing tax measures, concerns about their own pocketbooks, and numerous initiative battles," says David McCuan, professor of political science at Sonoma State University. “Passing anything is going to be tough,” he says.

According to California figures and the US Census, there are about 355,000 California households in the $250,000-and-higher income bracket. In a state with a cost of living as high as California's, that begs the question of who is bearing the brunt of the tax increase. It also strengthens presidential challenger Mitt Romney’s argument that “the last thing we need to do in this economy is raise taxes on anyone.”

“I actually think this does [jeopardize Brown’s November tax initiative],” says Tony Quinn, co-editor of the California Target Book, a nonpartisan guide that tracks state political races.  “Brown’s allies in the legislature saw to it that his tax measure comes first on the ballot measure ballot plus the Obamacare tax, and now Obama’s hit on the rich making more than $250,000 a year. $250,000 may be rich in some states but in high-cost California it is upper middle class. “

Anyone in politics developing messages about all these campaigns is going to have to be very careful and crafty, say other analysts.

“Obama was doing all he could to not call his health-care penalty a tax, so whoever is trying to sell these ideas is going to have to work very hard to recast their messages,” says Barbara O’Connor, director emeritus of the Institute for Study of Politics and Media at California State University, Sacramento.

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