Jump to content

Grover Norquist's Anti-Tax Pledge Undermines Democracy


Recommended Posts

Evidence is mounting of the true intentions of the republican party.


America is starting to shake off the Republican Tea Party buzz from 2010 and realizing the mistake it made after being hustled into voting them into power. And this budget fiasco is a perfect example of whats wrong with government.


The GOP hasn't introduced one jobs bill since taking over in January and since they've taken over slashing state financial support, cutting taxes, mountains of new laws, and social service spending cuts, 500,000 jobs have been lost due to state and local municipality lay-offs, teachers, firemen, police, EMTS, etc.


This revelation, and Mitch McConnell's admission that, since November the GOP's only focus above everything else is to make sure Obama is a one term President, above everything else. I would hope that GOP members would not actually stand by this ridicules and potential harmful pledge.


The GOP has said no to a budget they put forth because the President agreed to it and when the President offered more cuts in spending the GOP still turned it down. The GOP is willing to run the American economy off a cliff and send the country into a catastrophic depression in the name of ideology.


Obama offered a deal with 83% in spending cuts and only 17% in closing tax loop holes and small tax increases on the richest, GOP said no deal, no tax hikes.


Its obvious the party not negotiating in good faith for the American people on the economy and fiscal responsibility is the party that was voted in on those very same promises they made. If the GOP causes America to default on debt payments interest on the money borrowed by America will go from 3% to close to 30%, what happened to Greece.


The American citizens just holding on now will be swept away in a financial tidal wave that will set this country back decades and will rock the world economy to its foundation.



Inflation is one form of taxation that can be imposed without legislation.

- Milton Friedman





The most powerful figure in today's Republican Party is not John Boehner or Mitch McConnell. It is not Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan. It is not even Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin.


It is, of course, Grover Norquist, the man with The Pledge.


Norquist, who has never held elected office, is the founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, a group whose pledge not to raise taxes under any circumstances has now been signed by hundreds of Republican candidates and officials at both state and national levels.


And they do mean "any circumstances." Enormous budget deficits? No. A country at war? Nope. Famine and plague? Sorry.


Our grandmothers kidnapped and threatened with death until and unless we raise taxes, as Norquist was asked recently by Stephen Colbert? Well, answered the unflappable Norquist, we always have our memories and our photographs.


(Colbert was being characteristically satiric. There appeared to be nothing satiric about the response.)


I want to set aside for now the political and economic wisdom of raising or not raising taxes and focus instead on an even more fundamental question: How prudent is it to take an irrevocable pledge about how to govern before one begins the actual work of governing?

How wise is it to remove from the legislative toolbox one of the most important tools before one knows what particular challenges one will face?


How many employers in any industry would hire someone into a leadership position who declared, prior to beginning work, that he or she would under no circumstances employ a commonly used strategy or compromise with those with whom he or she disagreed?


Would a retailer hire a manager who asserted that he would never under any circumstances raise prices?


Would a manufacturer hire a vice president who insisted that under no conditions would layoffs be permissible?


Would anyone hire a person who insisted that sacrificing absolutism for the common welfare was defeat?


Even the most basic primers on leadership note that the ability to listen, the ability to learn and the willingness to compromise are among the essential characteristics of any successful leader.


Many of these newcomers to public office appear also to believe that the mere fact of being elected constitutes a "mandate" for how they should subsequently act -- as if the business of governing ended rather than began with being chosen for office.


This is a new, peculiar, and destructive way to think about representative government. It ultimately would lead to the elimination of representative government altogether and, instead, to public ballot initiatives on every issue large and small. And we know how well that is working in California.


Minnesota was once a place known for the exceptional ability of its leaders to place the common good above polarizing ideology. Last year a wave of first-time legislators was swept into office, having signed or otherwise voiced fealty to The Pledge.


Now we're locked in a government shutdown. Gov. Mark Dayton, as Democrats are wont to do, seems to have mastered the art of negotiating with himself, so that his initial plan to generate $3 billion of new revenue through increased taxes has been cut and cut again.


But any tax rise is inconsistent with The Pledge, and so more than 20,000 state workers are, at present, out of a job.


There really is only one question that -- were I in a position to do so -- I would like to pose to those who have taken Norquist's blood oath.


Americans for Tax Reform asks every candidate for elected office on the state or federal level to make a written commitment to their constituents to "oppose and vote against all tax increases."


Every member of Congress, upon taking office, is asked to swear an oath to "well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter."

Here is my simple question: Which "pledge" takes precedence?


Brian Rosenberg is president of Macalester College






July 12, 2011, 8:06 PM ET


Norquist Issues New GOP Marching Orders


By Jonathan Weisman


Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, the keeper of the no-new-taxes pledge that virtually all Republican politicians have signed, has a new set of marching orders for the GOP troops, especially for the party’s presidential hopefuls: Enact Rep. Paul Ryan‘s budget plan.


In an extensive interview with Wall Street Journal reporters and editors, the president of Americans for Tax Reform said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich ran into trouble with Republicans not so much because he called the Ryan plan “right-wing social engineering” but because he thought Republicans are looking for a “big thinker” with brave new plans. They aren’t, Mr. Norquist said[/b].


“We know where we want to go,” Mr. Norquist said of Mr. Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity.” “We just need someone to sign the bills.”


That direction is not an easy one. The plan by Rep. Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who chairs the House Budget Committee, would convert Medicare from a government-run health plan to a system of vouchers that would offset senior citizens’ purchase of private health insurance policies.


It would repeal President Barack Obama‘s health care law while maintaining almost all its cuts to Medicare. It would convert Medicaid and other entitlement programs to block grants to the states. It would cut non-defense discretionary spending dramatically, and it would maintain the tax levels set by President George W. Bush while cutting individual and corporate tax rates still further.


The Ryan plan, which passed the House in April and was rejected by the Senate in May, actually would expand the budget deficit in the short run, with tax cuts and the repeal of the health care law.


But Mr. Norquist said the budget deficit is not the metric by which he measures the effectiveness of fiscal policy. The size of government is the only real measurement, he said. The deficit merely is the difference between how much money the government takes in and how much it spends.


“The difference between them is not particularly important” he said.




GOP's Debt Kamikazes


The Daily Beast, Thursday, July 14, 2011, 10:43pm (PDT)


Call them Debt Ceiling Deniers. Believers in faith-based fiscal policy. Math-challenged cause-and-effect-skeptics. And an uncomfortable chunk of the GOP's 2012 contenders.


The costs of courting conservative populists should be clearer than ever to reality-based fiscal conservatives inside the Republican Party. Their “all-or-nothing” meets “what, me worry?” negotiating stance is not only the newest symbol of DC's dysfunction—it is beginning to have an impact on the entire U.S. economy.


After all, S&P is now warning of a possible downgrade to America's credit rating because of concerns about our political ability to raise the debt ceiling by August 2nd. Moody's similarly announced it is considering a downgrade of the US bond rating. Bush-appointed Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke calls the looming prospect of a default on our debt “catastrophic.”


But Michele Bachmann believes it's all a hoax. Tim Pawlenty told an Iowa crowd, “I hope and pray and believe they should not raise the debt ceiling.” Ron Paul based his first presidential ad on a call to not raise the debt ceiling, proclaiming “No Deals.” And Rick Santorum has said that raising the debt ceiling should be avoided until a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution is passed.


This position is a long way from saying the vote to raise the debt ceiling should be contingent on a deal to reduce the deficit and the debt. It is not looking for leverage or savvy negotiation on the way to a settlement. Instead, it is prideful ignorance—an eagerness to go off the fiscal cliff to show the world that gravity does not exist.


The fact that defaulting on our debt would raise interest rates—deepening the fiscal hole we're in by compounding the size of our deficit and debt overnight—is not addressed. Instead we are greeted with nihilistic bubble talk—at its best, economic incompetence and at its worst evidence of tactical Leninism—the belief that “the worse things get, the better they are for me politically.”


This attitude is gaining adherents among conservative populists in Congress. Here's Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert—a co-sponsor of the Birther Bill, who infamously argued against the Hate Crimes Bill by equating homosexuality with bestiality, necrophilia and pedophilia—condemning Speaker Boehner for buying into the alleged myth of the August 2nd deadline: “The speaker is getting bad advice…I guess the problem with the speaker and him saying that [the debt limit needs to be raised by August 2nd] is that he listened to the president. I'll urge the speaker not to believe the president anymore." This is what passes for reasoning together right now.


In an epic bit of projection, Gohmert also accused the president of fear-mongering by saying factually that failure to raise the debt ceiling could cause Social Security checks to not be mailed out on time. Gohmert specifically pined for some FDR-style optimism to override any sense of real-life consequence for failure to pay our debts. “Instead of being a statesman leader and saying something like, 'The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,'” Gohmert said, “this president tries to create fear and panic in the American public at every turn.” Pot, meet kettle.


If you argue with a fool, you've got two fools. Nonetheless, I thought a reality check might help some of the Republicans in Congress currently deciding how they'll vote as we peddle ever closer to the cliff that is the August 2nd deadline.


So I reached out to two former Republican chairmen of the Council of Economic Advisors, with presumably impeccable fiscal conservative credentials: Michael Boskin, who served under Bush 41, and Glenn Hubbard who served under Bush 43.


"A real default would have severe ramifications in financial markets and the economy. We need to maintain the full faith and credit of U.S. government securities," says Boskin, now a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. "The deficit and debt are primarily a spending problem that could condemn us to stagnation or stagflation if not seriously addressed soon. So trying to leverage the debt ceiling increase into spending control makes economic sense...The worst outcome is a default with no real spending control."


While you're digesting that considered opinion, here's Glenn Hubbard, advocate/architect of the Bush tax cuts and dean of the Columbia Business School. “The debt ceiling must be raised - not doing so is irresponsible,” Hubbard emailed. “The real discussion needs to be about to stabilize, then reduce America's burgeoning debt-to-GDP ratio…From here, the most sensible path would be an agreement on spending reductions. Then should come a debate (post-raising the ceiling) over reducing entitlement spending versus raising taxes. That debate can also address raising marginal tax rates (as the President proposes) versus limiting tax expenditures (as the [bowles-Simpson] Commission proposes). These debates will be the domestic policy stage for voters to judge in 2012.”


Got that? The deficit and debt are serious problems. Let's have a vigorous debate on how to best address them. Let's negotiate the best deal possible with spending cuts, tax reform and entitlement reform. And then let's put alternatives to the American people in 2012. But don't take the U.S. economy off a cliff just to prove your point.


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's proposal—a procedural plan that would allow the president to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling as long as he promised a commensurate amount of spending cuts—seems to me an acknowledgement that the conservative populists could stop a debt ceiling vote, something that strikes McConnell as fiscally irresponsible and politically unwise for the Republican Party. It is a tacit admission that the inmates are darn-near running the asylum.


The deal-makers in the Republican Party—like Speaker John Boehner—are finding themselves fighting with debt-ceiling deniers, with the full faith and credit of the United States hanging in the balance.


Even supposedly responsible Republican presidential candidates like Mitt Romney—whose campaign slogan might as well be ‘He's the Sane One'—are finding it politically beneficial to flirt with debt-ceiling denial, announcing a ‘cut, cap and balance' proposal without revenue increases as his ‘line in the sand' for supporting raising the debt limit.


But this beast cannot be appeased. As with all absolutists, the goal-posts keep moving. Two months ago, Rick Santorum wrote: “Before we again raise our nation's debt ceiling, we must insure that the major components of our exploding debt are under control, namely our entitlement programs.” Now President Obama has put entitlement reform on the table. But a different standard is applied, because making a deal is not as important as making a point.


The debt-ceiling deniers could be dismissed as just another branch of the conservative populist tribe at war with modernity. Except this time the enemy isn't science—it's math. And international markets don't respond well to denial.


The growing popularity of this position among the 2012 contenders should cause real fiscal conservatives in the GOP look hard in the mirror—because the conservative populists they have helped empower for short-term political gain are making long-term fiscally responsible governance almost impossible.


By encouraging default, the debt-ceiling deniers are playing politics with people's daily lives. They are making the prospect for economic recovery even more distant while unintentionally adding credence to our competitors' mistaken belief that America is a great power decline

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is a spin article that favors the Democrats. It is Bu11sh1t.

I think it does not matter what party is in power, the same agenda is advanced.

The current agenda is designed to keep the common folk so busy worrying about where the next tank of gas or meal is going to come from, that they don't have time to pay attention to what is happening to our nation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When A Turn Toward Austerity Turned To Disaster





Four years into Franklin Roosevelt's first presidential term, the worst of the Great Depression seemed behind him. Massive jolts of New Deal spending had stopped the economic slide, and the unemployment rate was cut from 22 percent to less than 10 percent.

A User's Guide To The Budget Battles July 14, 2011


"People felt that there was momentum," U.S. Senate historian Donald Ritchie tells Guy Raz, host of weekends on All Things Considered. "Finally, there was the light at the end of the tunnel."


So Roosevelt, on the advice of his conservative Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, decided to tackle the country's exploding deficits. Over two years, FDR slashed government spending 17 percent.


"All of a sudden," Ritchie says, "after unemployment had been going steadily down, unemployment shot up, the economy stagnated, the stock market crashed again. And now it seemed we'd come out of the Hoover Depression to go into the Roosevelt recession."


Similar decisions Roosevelt made about spending and austerity are being discussed at the White House right now. In the long term, both political parties say they agree that austerity is a good thing. But what about in the short term, while unemployment remains high?


Could austerity slow economic recovery?


'More Stimulus Now'


Economists disagree about what caused the 1937 recession.


Unemployment jumped 3 percent the year after FDR cut spending. At the same time, the Federal Reserve built its reserves, which meant banks had less to lend. And the payroll tax had just been introduced.


But some, including Bruce Bartlett, who held senior policy positions under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, fear major budget cuts of the size proposed by President Obama — $4 trillion over 10 years — could be dangerous to short-term recovery.


Larry Summers, formerly one of President Obama's top economic advisers, says turning too quickly to austerity could be disastrous for the economy.


Larry Summers, formerly one of President Obama's top economic advisers, says turning too quickly to austerity could be disastrous for the economy.


Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers is also worried.


"Rushing to deficit reduction was Roosevelt's mistake in 1937, and that would be a serious mistake today," he tells Raz.


He points out that current budget negotiations are different from those in 1937. Proposals under consideration today would spread cuts over 10 years, instead of FDR's two.


But Summers says it may still be too soon for austerity.


"The right strategy is stimulus now and more deficit reduction programmed for after the economy has recovered," he says.


Last year's compromise on a payroll tax suspension, he says, is as an example of what might be politically possible, given the spending impasse between Democrats and Republicans. Summers calls for lengthening that payroll tax cut, spending more on infrastructure and extending unemployment benefits.


"We say that in a technical sense the recession is over," he says. "That means the economy is growing. But when you walk through the Grand Canyon, you're going uphill long before you get back to sea level. And I think we've got several years before this economy is back to normal levels of employment."


What Economists Miss


In the years leading up the recession, journalist Gillian Tett was one of the first people to warn that something new and dangerous was happening in the global credit market.


She was named British Journalist of the Year in 2009. Today she's the U.S. managing editor for the Financial Times. And she has a doctorate not in finance, but in anthropology. And that's one reason she says economists like Summers don't have all the answers.


"Because right now, issues like social cohesion are crucial for understanding what's going on," she says. "America is not a country which has a very strong sense of resource constraint. It was created by pioneers who came here believing that there would always be more resources. And there's been such a focus on growing the economic pie that people haven't really stopped to ask, 'How do you divide up that economic pie?' "


European investors and policymakers, by contrast, can't wrap their heads around the U.S. debt deadlock, she says.


"They find it quite unbelievable that a country would, in a sense, choose to walk into a debt crisis, given that people in Europe are having a debt crisis imposed on them without choice. There is a sense of incomprehension that the politicians can't sit around the table and come up with some sort of proactive plan."


Summers' forecast of several more years without normal levels of employment is sobering, she adds.


"It makes a question of social cohesion and whether America has a way of allocating pain even more pertinent," Tett says.


Social divisions are widening in America, she says. Income inequality is growing. Tett warns that may create even more tension going forward.


"And I love America," she says. "I think it's got so much to be proud of. I just really hope that it finds a way to tackle these problems."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...