Coming: $3 trillion tax increase on middle class
Getting Republicans to agree to a tax increase on “the rich” is not the ultimate aim of the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress, says noted tax activist Grover Norquist.
Norquist, president and founder of Americans for Tax Reform, said the first act “is to get congressional Republicans to put their fingerprints on what amounts to a minor tax increase.” “After raising taxes on the rich a little bit, the Democrats will come back for serious tax revenue,” he said. “In acts two and three, the Democrats will come back for the real money – an energy tax and a value-added tax that will impact everybody, especially the middle class.” Norquist insisted Democrats in Congress and the establishment press are playing an elaborate game designed to blame Republicans for budget deficits and keep serious discussion of spending cuts and entitlement reform off the table. “Congressional Democrats know raising taxes on the rich will not produce enough tax revenue to reduce significantly the trillion-dollar annual budget deficits being run by the Obama White House,” he said. “The reason the Democrats scream ‘tax the rich, tax the rich,’ is because they are going to pivot very soon to place a 3 trillion-dollar tax increase on the middle class, and they want ringing in the public’s ears that there wouldn’t have had to do this if the Republicans in Congress had acted right away to place a decent size tax on the rich.” Norquist believes the Democrat strategy risks a tax revolt. “The size of Tea Party Two is going to dwarf Tea Party One,” he predicted. Norquist contends Obama is “overstating his mandate.” “Four years ago, he was convinced he was king,” Norquist said. “He took a 70-percent approval down to 50 percent and lost a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives in the process. Now, Obama starts at 52 percent and he is going not only to spend too much but also too tax too much.” Nevertheless, in the current “fiscal cliff” negotiations regarding the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, Norquist has been criticized in the establishment press as a hindrance to reaching an agreement.
At the center of criticism is the anti-tax pledge that Norquist has persuaded 95 percent of Republican lawmakers to sign. “Attacking me and the anti-tax pledge is the same old tactic the Democrats used two years ago in the debate over the debt ceiling,” he said. The difference this time, however, is that Democrats “have no intention, whatsoever, in seriously talking about spending restraint.” “So this time,” he said, “it becomes even more important to misdirect the attention of the American people, to say the only reason Republicans preventing a grand bargain by opposing tax increases is because Grover Norquist is telling Republicans what to do.” In a front page article last Tuesday, Washington Post reporter Aaron Blake claimed Norquist and his anti-tax pledge are “in danger of becoming Washington relics as more and more defectors inch toward accepting tax increases” to avoid going over the fiscal cliff. “Week after week, Democratic leaders have bashed Republicans for pledging fealty to Norquist rather than working independently,” Blake wrote. Norquist dismissed such statements as an attempt to misdirect the attention of the American public from the real issue at hand: runaway federal spending, not a failure to raise taxes. He doesn’t see any evidence his anti-tax pledge is losing its potency. The Washington Post article, he noted, produced as evidence a claim House Majority Leader Eric Cantor had suggested that the anti-tax pledge would not dictate GOP strategy on the fiscal cliff. “So we get this headline, ‘Cantor Denounces Pledge,’ but that’s not what Cantor said,” Norquist countered. “What Cantor really said was that even without the pledge, the Republicans in Congress would be against raising taxes. Why? Because raising taxes would be bad for the economy.” Norquist argued Republicans in Congress learned it is risky to increase taxes when President George H. W. Bush went down to defeat in 1992 after violating his “read my lips” pledge. He insists the anti-tax pledge he promotes through Americans for Tax Reform is not the real issue in the fiscal cliff debate. “If I became a Buddhist monk, it wouldn’t change anything,” he said, arguing it’s a pledge congressional Republicans make to voters, not to him. “Republicans in Congress would still be against raising taxes because raising taxes never works,” he said.
Democrats are playing a game of three-card monte, Norquist asserted. “Because the Democrats in Congress have no intention of talking about entitlement reform,” he said, “the liberal press rolls out the usual list of Republican compromisers who will say raising taxes would be acceptable if the Democrats engage in spending cuts the Democrats have no intention of ever making.”
Norquist predicts Congress will not raise taxes to avoid going over the fiscal cliff, because the Republican majority in the House is the last line of defense.
“The Republicans in House of Representatives are survivors,” he said. “The Democrats have already thrown at them everything you can imagine, and the Republicans in the House are still a majority, serving in districts that will not be redrawn for another 10 years. The Republicans in the House can defend themselves against everything the Democrats throw against them.” Norquist suggested in the final analysis, the House Republicans could simply pass the plan proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., proving to the American public that federal budget deficits can be reduced without raising taxes on the rich. The Ryan plan was passed by the House April 15 by a vote of 235 to 193, with no votes from Democrats. The Democrat-controlled Senate voted it down a month later, 57–40. The bill sought to reduce the 10-year federal deficit by capping discretionary spending and dismantling Obamacare.