Norquist: Cruz's Defunding 'Tactic' Not the Same as My Anti-Tax Pledge

Norquist: Cruz's Defunding 'Tactic' Not the Same as My Anti-Tax Pledge

On Friday, Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, again slammed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for his defunding Obamacare strategy in an appearance on Fox News.

In an appearance on Gretchen Carlson’s Real Story, Norquist claimed there was “no difference among Republicans on ‘let’s get rid of Obamacare as quickly as we can'” and referred to comments he made to the Washington Post in which he said Cruz “pushed House Republicans into traffic and wondered away.”

Norquist said all he was doing in those remarks was “pointing out how angry House Republicans are at Cruz” for insisting “that he had a strategy to repeal” Obamacare and “get all the Democrats in the Senate” needed to do so. Norquist also claimed that as soon as the House finally passed a short-term resolution to fund the government and defund Obamcare without any gimmicks, “Cruz announced he had no capacity” to get five Democrats in the Senate to support his plan. In addition, Norquist said after Cruz and conservative outside groups “got nothing,” Republicans in the House “have walked away from Cruz’s position.”

Norquist failed to note, as Cruz had been saying, that it would have taken 41 Republicans to vote against cloture to prevent Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) from adding an amendment to fund Obamacare to the House bill. Cruz said the defunding strategy, which he fiercely advocated with Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), would be most effective in convincing Democrats from red states to come on board only if Republicans were united first. 

But Republicans in the House and those like Norquist never rallied behind the defunding strategy at the outset and never gave it a chance–even though it could have given them leverage in the budget negotiations. Senate Republicans never got behind Cruz and Lee either, as 25 Senate Republicans joined Democrats to vote for cloture. 

Norquist, who has supported House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) in nearly all of the budget negotiations, also failed to note that he supported the initial gimmick from the House Republican leadership on a symbolic vote to defund Obamacare that conservatives revolted against after the “Exempt America” rally, which groups like ForAmerica and Tea Party Patriots organized in front of the Capitol. The House Republican leadership ultimately tabled that “gimmick” and finally allowed a vote on a bill to defund Obamacare after blasting that strategy for months on and off the record.

When Carlson asked Norquist how Cruz’s defunding Obamacare push was different from his organization’s famed anti-tax pledge, Norquist said they were not analogous because they are “two very different things, never to be confused.”

Norquist claimed his anti-tax pledge was a “principle” and a “written commitment” politicians make to constituents when they run. He mentioned that nearly every politician has “kept that commitment.” 

Cruz, though, has repeatedly said that he was pushing to defund Obamacare because he, too, was living up to his campaign promises. Unlike other Republicans who ran in 2010 and 2012 promising to get rid of Obamacare only to be squeamish about doing so once they got to the halls of power in Congress, Cruz followed through. 

Norquist called Cruz’s Obamacare push a “tactic” that amounted to, “Let’s have this vote on this date.”

“Tactic. That’s not principle,” Norquist said. 

When Carlson mentioned that in the past Senators like Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) have criticized Norquist about his anti-tax pledge the same way Cruz has been criticized about his defunding Obamacare strategy, Norquist reiterated they were “completely different” and said Coburn once had “impure thoughts” about tax increases as part of a budget deal that was in the works in 2011.