It Isn't About The Deficit
Ezra Klein tweeted a reminder of this comment in his interview with Grover Norquist:
Norquist: The goal is to reduce the size and scope of government spending, not to focus on the deficit. The deficit is the symptom of the disease. And there are several reasons to oppose tax increases. First, every dollar of tax increase is a dollar you didn’t get in spending restraint. Two, if you walk into the Democrats’ Andrews-Air-Force-Base, Lucy-with-the-Football trick for the third time in a row -- they don’t have have a saying for being fooled three times!
In ’82 and ’90, the Republicans were smart, tough focused guys. They were taken to the cleaners. The Republicans negotiating with the Democrats are negotiating with Dick Durbin. Durbin. Durbin! Does Durbin have an interest in cutting any government program in the history of the world at any time in his life? No. Never. He’s there to sucker Republicans into putting their fingerprints on a tax increase so when you go into an election, people say, “Can’t trust them. They’ll raise taxes.”
The reason it won’t happen is that the Republicans have taken the pledge and made a promise to their constituents that they won’t increases taxes. And I’ve talked to the guys in the House and Senate. They tell me it won’t happen. And even Coburn, Chambliss and Crapo wrote a letter to me that said, “If and when there is a legislative proposal to be presented to the American people, we look forward to again working with you and all interested parties to support a proposal where any increase in revenue generation will be a result of the pro-growth effects of lower individual and corporate taxes.” So the three guys who I worry -- because of some of the press statements -- might be cajoled or tricked into putting the fingerprints on a tax increase have said in writing that they won’t do a tax increase. Right now, in our public pronouncements, we are completely in sync. I agree with their statement; they have signed the pledge.
Every once in awhile, some reporter ekes out a comment from one of them saying everything is on the table, but when they talk to me, they say we’ll talk about anything, but we won’t agree on a tax increase. My position is: Why go into a room and close a door with people who have the history that Conrad and Durbin do? But no, there won’t be a tax increase. That’s not happening. It’s an odd way to spend your time. I think golf and cocaine would more constructive ways to spend one’s free time time than negotiating with Democrats on spending restraint.
It's funny how the Republicans project their own peculiar form of pathological dishonesty onto Democrats. I can't think of a time ever when Democrats ran against Republicans for cutting taxes. (If he's referring to 88, 90 and 92, it was Republicans running against Republicans for raising taxes.) And it was the Republicans running against the Democrats for cutting Medicare in 2010, a program for which they have been gunning since 1965. But then Norquist is the guy who literally adopted Leninist strategy for the conservative movement, so maybe he's just extremely confused.
The American people want to raise taxes on the rich and the Democrats are bringing it into the debate. And I would guess that they will never pass a bill out of the House that contains one. But it's possible that if the Dems are more clever than they usually are, they will be able to expose the GOP's true agenda and stop this deficit obsession from snowballing any further.
Keep your fingers crossed. I think something is happening to change the contours of the debate. Let's hope the president doesn't feel the need to step in and "mediate."