Grover Norquist, head of Americans For Tax Reform, was interviewed by Neil Cavuto on Fox today about the fact that some senators are abandoning their commitment to his no-tax pledge. Saxby Chambliss, Lindsay Graham, John McCain, Lamar Alexander, Tom Coburn and Mike Crapo have indicated they might reconsider their positions.
Norquist waxed eloquent like this:
Cavuto: Some people don’t like your pledge. What’s going on?
Some of the people who are being dragged up are retreads. There’s nothing new in this last weekend about some of the senators who’ve said they’d be open to tax hikes. Remember the gang of six? Three of the people that you’ve mentioned spent eight months in a room sitting in a room with Democrats pretending to negotiate tax increases in return for entitlement reform, and after a while even Coburn had to walk out of the room and admit that they were being offered nothing except tax increases. The President’s budget is nothing except tax increases; the President’s negotiating position is nothing except tax increases, and Harry Reid, who some of those senators might want to focus some of their attention on, has announced there won’t be any entitlement reform.
So, to argue that the taxpayers should take the brunt of this battle and that they should not defend taxpayers but the spending interests in Washington strikes me as odd. The effort by some to get entitlement reform … the D’s right now have said heck, no, hell, no , and Harry Reid has said it ain’t happening … you gotta look at that rather than try and raise taxes to pay for Obama’s bigger government.
There are two ways that you can damage the economy; one is to increase marginal tax rates; everybody knows that that would the small business groups that would kill 700,000 jobs off the bat, probably worse than that. The other thing is to eliminate a trillion … they’re not talking about a few deductions and credits, they’re talking about a trillion dollars’ worth of deductions and credits; that’s what the other team wants. If you do that you’ve just killed tax reform for a generation. Why? How do you ever get the rates down if you don’t have the deductions and credits? What Obama’s hoping to do is raise taxes, spend the money, kill tax reform for individuals dead all at the same time.
Cavuto: How about Cantor and others saying this is an option? Are you want to exact punishment on them in 2 years?
Some of them have engaged in impure thoughts. They haven’t actually voted for a tax increase. Let’s be very clear: Cantor and Boehner have said they want revenues from economic growth. I want that. All Americans should want that. If we were growing at Reagan rates instead of Obama rates we’d have 10 million people working and a lot more revenue in the coffer. Let’s get more revenue through growth.
Cavuto: Does it trouble you that Warren Buffet disagrees with you that this would inhibit investment? (Buffet said ) Only in Grover Norquist’s imagination does such a response exist.
Warren Buffet has made a lot of money, some of it in gaming the political system; he invests in insurance companies and then lobbies to raise the death tax which drives people to buy insurance. You can get rich playing that game, but it’s small c corrupt; it’s not investing, it’s playing crony politics in economics. That’s a shame; he’s done the same thing with some green investing. Shame on him for gaming the system and giving the money to politicians who write rules that make your assets go up. The real economy, the real economy, if he thinks the government can take a dollar and then you go to an investor who doesn’t have that dollar, and it doesn’t affect the investment, I’m sorry, that’s just silly, unless he plans on going to Obama and getting money from a stimulus package and he considers that investment. When the government takes a dollar away from the American people, or a trillion dollars, that’s a trillion dollars not available to be saved and invested. And I’m sorry if Buffett can’t see that, but that’s kind of silly on his part.
Jena McGregor in today’s Washington Post said, “All it will take is a few powerful Republicans to actually break the pledge, and the wall will come tumbling down. The pledge’s strength and Norquist’s power lies in its universal acceptance among powerful Republicans, if that falls, so does Norquist.”
We could ask President Bush, President George Herbert Walker Bush, how his second term went after he broke his pledge. Did he damage the pledge, or did by breaking his pledge he lost a second term for the presidency because he had not kept his word with the American people, because he raised taxes, because the Democrats promised to cut spending. They didn’t cut spending; they did raise taxes. They increased spending, so George Herbert walker Bush raised taxes on the American people to increase spending, threw the economy into a recession and couldn’t get himself reelected.
Cavuto then asked if Norquist about his response to people turning on him.
Nobody’s turning on me. I understand why Harry Reid is trying to personalize this … What Harry Reid doesn’t want to say is that the American people don’t want their taxes raised. They elected a Republican Congress opposed to raising taxes. and I, Harry Reid am at odds with the American people … First of all, the promise on the pledge is to the American people. What I’ve accomplished with Americans for Tax Reform is to make it easy through the pledge, for elected officials, candidates and incumbents to credibly commit that they won’t raise taxes. Corker was elected to the Senate because he took the pledge and people thought, maybe he was too moderate, that he wouldn’t make it, but he made that written commitment to the people of Tennessee. He would not be a senator today if he hadn’t made that commitment. If he breaks it, he’s going to have a conversation with the people of Tennessee about his keeping his word. And the same thing with other people who are elected because they made that written commitment to the people of their state. I vote in Washington D.C.. The people that Corker promised or Chambliss or Graham promised are in their state. They haven’t promise me anything. They promised the voters of their state that they would go to Washington and reform government, not raise taxes to pay for Obama’s bigger government. They need to focus on reforming government, not on raising taxes to pay for bigger government each year. And it’s a lot of work. It’s not easy, but throwing up your hands and saying, “I don’t know, maybe I’ll raise taxes instead of governing” is not the way to go.