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The Growing Revolt Against Grover Norquist

1:57 pm in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

Grover Norquist - Caricature

Grover Norquist - Caricature

Two weeks ago I penned a short piece titled “Grover Norquist Collateral Casualty of 2012?” where I broached the question of whether or not Norquist would become a casualty as a result of the coming fiscal cliff negotiations and where I said, “…look for Grover Norquist to politically take a major hit in the resolution of the fiscal cliff crisis.” The way things are playing out I think that we can pretty much assume that Norquist is already taking on water and his support and influence seems to be fading with each passing day. Let’s review a few recent developments, staring with this:”Grover Norquist: Washington Enemy No. 1 :The man who enforces the no-new-taxes pledge is under fire like never before. Why he still expects Republicans will hold the line”; To wit: “Republicans are facing an avalanche of pressure from the White House, the media and even many on Wall Street to abandon their antitax principles to avoid a “fiscal cliff…The pressure on Republicans to repudiate this oath has never been as intense as it is now. Mr. Obama is claiming a voter mandate to raise taxes, while the media and liberals are declaring that the days of “Norquistism,” as they derisively call it, are over. A New York Times story this week claimed that more Republicans are ready to violate the pledge. After the 2011 debt-ceiling debacle, the election losses and the prospect of getting blamed for going over the fiscal cliff, the conventional wisdom is that the GOP has no choice but to fold…I remind Mr. Norquist that the election exit polls show that voters, for the first time in two decades, favor higher taxes on the rich.”

In the Senate, several prominent Republicans have already broken ranks with Norquist publicly, Lindsey Graham (R-SC): “When you’re $16 trillion in debt, the only pledge we should be making to each other is to avoid becoming Greece, and Republicans — Republicans should put revenue on the table…We’re this far in debt. We don’t generate enough revenue. Capping deductions will help generate revenue. Raising tax rates will hurt job creation…So I agree with Grover, we shouldn’t raise rates. But, I think Grover is wrong when it comes to [saying] we can’t cap deductions and buy down debt…I want to buy down debt and cut rates to create jobs, but I will violate the pledge, long story short, for the good of the country, only if Democrats will do entitlement reform.” Tom Coburn (R-OK): “I’m all for the very wealthy paying more taxes…Senate Republicans — and many House Republicans — have repeatedly rejected Mr. Norquist’s strict interpretation of his own pledge, a reading that requires them to defend every loophole and spending program hidden in the tax code…As a result, rather than forcing Republicans to bow to him, Mr. Norquist is the one who is increasingly isolated politically.” John McCain (R-AZ) said Sunday, “that he would support limiting deductions.” Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) who said last week that “the pledge is outdated and unhelpful for reducing the national debt…I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge.” Bob Corker (R-TN): “I’m not obligated on the pledge…I made Tennesseans aware, I was just elected, the only thing I’m honoring is the oath I take when I serve, when I’m sworn in this January.” The senior Republican Senator from Tennessee, Lamar Alexander said that the only oath he’s taken is his oath of office.” Regarding taxes Alexander said’ “I think Republicans have done plenty of talking about revenues on the table…We’re ready. It’s time for the president to step up.”

Of even greater significance is the fact that the defections have now moved beyond the Senate, where Republicans are in the minority, to the Republican controlled House of Representatives. Even fiscal hawk Eric Cantor (R-VA) has publicly distanced himself from Norquist, “When I go to the constituents that have reelected me, it is not about that pledge…It really is about trying to solve problems.” While Cantor, like Graham isn’t a fan of raising the tax rates he is unequivocally in favor of increasing revenues and he doesn’t necessarily tie that to matching adjustments in deductions as required by the Norquist pledge. Peter King (R-NY) said, “everything should be on the table in negotiations to avert the “fiscal cliff.” Jeff Flake (R-AZ): “The only pledge I’d sign is a pledge to sign no more pledges…We’ve got to ensure that we go back and represent our constituents in a way — I believe in limited government, economic freedom, individual responsibility. I don’t want higher taxes. But no more pledges.” Quoting the political magazine “The Hill” on the comments of Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK): “Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a respected party strategist and former chairman of the National Republican Campaign Committee, became the most prominent House Republican to suggest that the GOP do what has long been unthinkable within the party: lock in the George W. Bush-era tax rates for annual incomes up to $250,000 without simultaneously extending them for top earners.” Diane White (R-TN): “I answer to my constituents, not to a pledge.”
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Sense vs. Nonsense in Debt Ceiling Debate

6:39 pm in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

As the potential defaulting on our national debt looms ever larger and comes ever closer, there is a rising chorus of responsible conservatives who are speaking up so as to drown out the radicals on the far right who think that default is not a serious problem. For one thing, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has reiterated its opposition to default in a recent piece, “Default Is Not An Option – Spread the Word” The USCC has stated unequivocally: “failure to raise the debt ceiling would have calamitous results. It would halt government operations, make our debt and deficit situation worse, debase the value of the dollar and threaten its status as the world’s reserve currency, and hamper U.S. growth and job creation.” Based on the fact that debt, deficit, growth and job creation are all topics in the forefront of the conservative agenda, it doesn’t seem to make much sense to allow the federal government to default if the conservative agenda would be setback as a result. Responsible conservatives know this and now they are taking their argument to the public so as to forestall any calamity that would result from the recklessness of the far right.

A second development that is worth noting is that the “Gang of Six”, those senators who have been working with the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction committee proposals has gained another member, Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and its proceedings appear to have garnered increased interest on Capitol Hill. Quoting Senator Kent Conrad: “Any debt deal would resemble the “Gang of Six” plan.” The “Gang of Six” proposals are a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases and they stand in sharp contrast to the ultra conservative Cut, Cap and Balance bill that’s going nowhere on Capitol Hill. While Tea Party backed Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) said of Cut, Cap and Balance: “And we want to make very clear, this isn’t just the best plan on the table for addressing the debt limit; this is the only plan”; Speaker of the House, John Boehner, acted immediately to put Lee’s comments into perspective. Boehner said: “Oh, I’m sure we have got some members who believe that, but I do not believe that would be anywhere close to the majority. At the end of the day, we have a responsibility to act.” With these comments, Boehner is signaling a more reasonable approach to addressing the dual problems of deficits and revenues. Boehner is also very much aware of the fact that while there may be a sizable default caucus among the Tea Party crowd in the House, there is a very small claque of Senators on the far right who are beholden to the same views. Based on the fact that Jack Lew, the head of the Office of Management and Budget testified at the bipartisan debt reduction caucus today and reiterated the fact that whatever the final plan is, it would have to include some form of revenue increase, is it any wonder that John Boehner is charting a more practical course?

Why reality is even starting to dawn on anti-tax zealot Grover Norquist. Norquist has begun to equivocate on whether or not allowing the Bush era tax breaks to expire amounts to a tax hike. Norquist’s equivocation is an element of particular irony as it is Norquist who developed the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” which disavows any increase in federal revenue from increased taxes or the elimination of tax breaks and the closing of loopholes. Norquist’s about face on Bush era tax cuts is a major setback for the “starve the beast crowd” on the far right and represents a major departure from his previous no compromise approach to taxes and spending. That’s something that won’t go unnoticed in the political world and something that is a defacto admission of the need to raise revenues in order to address the deficit.

Thus in the final analysis, as we grind on towards August and the potential of a default, the voices of common sense are growing ever louder and more persuasive and the anti revenue zealots are seeing their chances of dealing with the deficit through drastic cuts alone slip away with each passing hour and each passing day. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) likened the far right radicals in the House to being on an “iceberg that is melting into the ocean” and in need of a life line so as to save themselves from political irrelevance. In the end, those who thought they could come to Washington and refuse to compromise will find themselves on the wrong side of history with their political futures all the more uncertain going forward.




Default Is Not An Option – Spread the Word

4 ways a debt default would hurt America

Conrad: Any Debt Deal Would Resemble ‘Gang of 6′ Plan

Grover Norquist: Ending Bush Tax Cuts Not A Tax Hike