Economy & Budget

Norquist: Pledge wavering Republicans are Democratic pawns

Norquist: Pledge wavering Republicans are Democratic pawns
Grover G. Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform

The leader of Americans for Tax Reform told Human Events that Republicans should be ashamed to be part of the Democratic media campaign to raise taxes.

“They should be embarrassed,” said Grover G. Norquist, the founder and president of the Washington-based ATR.

The narrative was part of the Nov. 27 remarks on the Senate floor by Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.).

“For nearly three decades, a right-wing Washington lobbyist has exerted a stranglehold on mainstream Republicans over the issue of taxes, threatening political retaliation against any lawmaker who dared vote for any fiscal solution that asked the wealthy to pay their fair share,” Schumer said.

“Both sides are still far apart, and the discussions over the next few weeks will be difficult, but with each new Republican disavowing Grover Norquist, the chances of a deal rise sharply,” he said.

Schumer listed defectors from the pledge such as Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), Sen. C. Saxby Chambliss Jr. (R-Ga.) and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), and the speech was sent out by his office with the headline: SCHUMER: REPUBLICANS SEEKING ‘DIVORCE’ FROM GROVER NORQUIST SIGNALS PROGRESS ON FISCAL CLIFF.

The New Yorker is humiliating his fellow members of Congress and hauling them out as if they were collaborators, Norquist said. “It is not very nice of him.”

People need to remember that Schumer is the man who wants to raise tax rates and eliminate deductions and credits, he said. “Schumer is an absolutist raising taxes and not doing tax reform.”

Despite the barrage of attacks against him, and reports of defections, the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” he asks every candidate to make to the voters is not going away, he said.

“The truth is that 90-plus percent of the pledge signers, they sign the pledge because they have no intention of raising taxes,” said the Massachusetts expatriate.

“They are very comfortable making that commitment because it never occurs to them to raise taxes. They know taxes are bad for the economy. They know raising taxes kills jobs,” he said. “Why would they raise taxes if they know the problem is spending?”

Despite the simplicity of the matter, some Republicans get confused, he said.

One example is the case of Chambliss, who was quoted Nov. 14 in the mainstream media as challenging Norquist and renouncing his own pledge to the people of Georgia, he said.

“Somebody said to him: Are you going to do what Grover Norquist tells you to do? Then, he got into this conversation about whether or not Grover has a plan,” he said. “He got discombobulated.”

The Georgia senator called Norquist afterwards to clear the air, he said.

“He called to apologize and clarify,” said the man, who founded ATR at the personal request of President Ronald W. Reagan, who earned both his bachelors in economics and MBA from Harvard University. “I cut him some slack because it seems to me he got jammed by some press guy.”

In the main, Republicans discussing tax increases are just thinking aloud about possible solutions to our fiscal mess, he said. “Some of these guys just had impure thoughts about ‘maybe I could imagine a deal where spending cuts were so huge and the tax increases were so little.’”

Those wonderful deals do not exist in the real world, so pledge signers will never really be tempted in the real world, he said.

“Graham says he’ll raise taxes ‘if you give me gazillions dollars in entitlement reform that can’t be undone’—well, that doesn’t exist in the real world—it’s like saying for a pink unicorn, I’d pay a lot of money, but there aren’t any pink unicorns,” he said.

Republicans need to remember past deals, where Democrats promised spending cuts in exchange for tax increases, he said. “What you are really going to get is the same deal we got in 1982 or 1990, which as described in the ‘brochure’ as big spending cuts and teeny tax increases, but when you show up at the resort, it is not that at all.”

Norquist said, “In both those deals, smart, principled men like Bush and Reagan got taken.”

In the middle of the 1990 deal, when President George H. W. Bush broke his “Read my lips: No new taxes” pledge, Norquist said he tried to persuade White House staffers that too many Republican congressman were committed to not raise taxes for the deal to work. But, the Bush team pressed on and the 1990 deal not only led to higher spending, but it broke the back of the Bush presidency.

It is the same play, he said.

The Democrats could have passed $80 billion in annual tax increases whenever they wanted to in the first two years of President Barack Obama’s term, when they controlled the House and the Senate with super-majorities, he said.

They did not because they knew it would be bad for the economy, so they needed to share the blame, he said. “They did not want to only have Democratic fingerprints on the murder weapon.”

The ATR president said the most important reason Democrats are pressing now is because the Republican vote for a tax increase would be symbolic. “They want to break the brand of the Republican Party as the anti-tax party, which has been so powerful, and has allowed the Republicans to win the House and Senate in the last 20 years in a way that they were never able to for the previous 60 years.”

When the $80 billion per year tax increase on the wealthy is not enough to close the deficit, the Democrats will go after the middle class and businesses, but this time the GOP will be tainted by their voting to raise taxes before–they will be stuck, he said.

“You can see it coming a mile away.”

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