Grover Norquist on the Failure of the 'Super Committee'

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Disappointing many, but surprising few, the so-called Congressional "super committee" tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions announced it had failed to reach an agreement on Monday. Now, a wide range of spending cuts impacting everything from domestic to military programs will be implemented, which economists say will further hinder recovery. President Obama vowed to veto any legislation that attempts to undo the cuts. Both parties are snipping over who is to blame, though one private citizen's name keeps getting mentioned — Grover Norquist.

As the president of Americans for Tax Reform, Norquist has a reputation as a strict anti-tax enforcer. Most elected Republicans in America have signed his "Taxpayer Protection Pledge," making some call Norquist the most powerful man in Washington. Senator John Kerry has gone so far as to call Norquist the committee's "thirteenth member."

Norquist joins The Takeaway to talk about the "super committee" and the way forward in addressing the country's long-term fiscal imbalance. Todd Zwillich, The Takeaway's Washington correspondent, reports on what the Beltway is saying about the committee's failure.

Comments [17]

Mike from Jackson, NJ

Many Republicans have signed that no-tax pledge. It seems to ensure they will not act in a bipartisan fashion and made it impossible for them to compromise if taxes are any part of the deal.

This is not good for them or the USA.

I would much rather see Republicans and Democrats sign a pledge that would include the following:

I will not lie about my opponent or allow my staff to do so.
I will not walk out of meetings with the President.
I will respect the President in my actions even if he or she is not a member of my own party.
I will not engage in congressional “insider trading”.
I will place all of my investments in a blind trust until I am out of office.
I will not vote on any bill I have not read or had my staff summarize for me.
I will not take money or gifts from lobbyists.
I will not work for, or as, a lobbyist after I leave office.
I will consider both my constituents and the greater good of the USA when voting on legislation.
I will not ignore the long range consequences of legislation I vote for (for example unfunded mandates).

I am sure there are many more things that should be added to the list. It is a real shame we even have to talk about items like these for our elected representatives.

Nov. 22 2011 07:21 PM

How about this for an idea?

After spending the better part of today's program blasting Grover Norquist for somehow forcing Republicans to be inflexible in their negotiations with the Democrats, why not invite Sen. Pat Toomey to discuss what kind of compromise he had in fact proposed to the Democrats, despite fierce criticism from Norquist?

Nov. 22 2011 01:52 PM
carl, queens, n.y.

having little use for either party, voted for ralph nader 3 times, it is my observation that the republicans will stop at nothing to rid pres. obama from the w.h... they have their marching orders and are carrying them out to the letter..

Nov. 22 2011 12:56 PM

It is the height of liberal arrogance to suggest that Republicans who are opposed to raising marginal tax rates are somehow violating their oaths of office.

Has The Takeaway ever published the Americans for Tax Reform Pledge? It is effectively a single sentence, with two clauses. Pledgers promise to the people of their districts and to the American people that they will:

"ONE, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax
rates for individuals and/or businesses; and
TWO, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and
credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates."

The pledge does not bar reform of the tax code. Indeed, that is what "Americans For Tax Reform" are interested in! The pledge simply says that signers will not raise marginal rates on income taxes, and if there are changes to deductions and credits (some of those changes would be a great idea) that revenues would be matched by dollar for dollar reductions in rates.

This is a policy question. Honest people can disagree about policy. And if people are upset with their representatives' positions on policy, then that is what elections are for.

And personally, I am looking forward to the next election, much as Grover Norquist is. Let's have a vote, shall we, on higher taxes versus smaller government.

Nov. 22 2011 11:33 AM

Norquist calmly cuts through the sophist mendacity and the response from the left is scurrilous defamation and demonization against him personally rather than answer the economic and historical facts he presents.
No wonder they hate him.

Nov. 22 2011 10:17 AM

Why the super committee failed?
I blame the same people who brought on us the debt ceiling debate:GOP (Great Obstructionist Party)!

Nov. 22 2011 09:44 AM
David Goldbeck from Woodstock, NY

Why does the pledge to Grover Norquist seem to take precedence over a congressperson's oath of office? Don't our Senators and Representatives swear to uphold the constitution not some private document.

While the words in common parlance are used interchangeably it seems to me that an oath (particularly when taken on a bible) is like what a lawyer would call a 'contract with consideration,(that is both sides give something) while a pledge is more like a promise without consideration (that is, one sided).

Thusly, I think it could be argued that an oath trumps a pledge

I think law suits should be brought against every one of them who says they can't change their vote because they signed an unenforceable document. They will probably loose, but these folks will have to explain themselves

From Wikipedia
An oath (from Anglo-Saxon āð, also called plight) is either a statement of fact or a promise calling upon something or someone that the oath maker considers sacred, usually God, as a witness to the binding nature of the promise or the truth of the statement of fact. To swear is to take an oath, to make a solemn vow. Those who conscientiously object to making an oath will often make an affirmation instead.

A promise is a commitment by someone to do or not do something.

Nov. 22 2011 09:36 AM
Glenn from Massachusetts

Norquist's pledge has broken Congress. The Republicans have, in effect, pledged not to negotiate or compromise. Compromise and negotiation are the essence of the democratic process. You can't negotiate with someone who has taken a pledge not to negotiate.

Nov. 22 2011 09:23 AM

Wilson, it was you who missed the joke.

Norquist was joking that if the Congressional Democrats were willing to play the semantic game of counting savings from the withdrawal from Iraq as "budget cuts," he would suggest (sarcastically) that we 'withdraw' from Iraq for a much longer period of time, and double those savings!

Nov. 22 2011 09:17 AM
Wilson from Queens

It's cute that Grover Norquist feels lied to by the Democrats in 1982, because he just lied to your face. The $1 trillion in tax increases that Obama was talking about was over the next ten years; the $1.2 trillion deficit is for next year. So Obama was in no way seeking a purely revenue-based solution to the debt "crisis", as Norquist was suggesting.

Also, all the budget deficit / debt discussions have been about what to do over the next ten years, so his quip about saving $2 trillion by withdrawing from Iraq is pointless. So he's either ignorant or trolling you.

Nov. 22 2011 08:36 AM

From this morning's Wall Street Journal editorial page:

"So it's all Grover Norquist's fault. Democrats and the media are singing in unison that the reason Congress's antideficit super committee has failed is because of the conservative activist's magical antitax spell over Republicans.

Not to enhance this Beltway fable, but thank you, Mr. Norquist. By reminding Republicans of their antitax promises, he has helped to expose the real reason for the super committee's failure: the two parties disagree profoundly on a vision of government.

Democrats don't believe they need to do more than tinker around the edges of the entitlement state while raising taxes on the rich. Republicans think the growth of government is unsustainable and can't be financed no matter how much taxes are raised.

Sounds like we need an election."

Nov. 22 2011 08:34 AM
Robert Hahn from Tampa

Grover Norquist doesn't sit on the committee. He doesn't live in any Member's district. It is disingenuous for anyone to blame him for anything that elected officials do; only they are responsible for their actions.

The claim of blame comes mainly from the lame.

Nov. 22 2011 08:30 AM
shaun nethercotf from detroit

I just listened to Norquist and found his tone and responses repugnant in the extreme. His answers -were uniformly supercilious. This failure to be respectful is poisonous to the the political process and harmful on the country. Yuck.

Nov. 22 2011 08:21 AM

So Celeste Headlee begins today's program by suggesting that "the person being blamed for the failure of the super committee has never been elected; Grover Norquist."

What a remarkable presumption, Ms. Headlee. I am not blaming Grover Norquist for anything. But I realize that the liberal media (NPR, The Takeaway, CBS News, etc.) IS blaming Norquist.

So there you have it; the closed-loop world of the liberal media. Grover Norquist is to be blamed, because they and all their friends say so.

Nov. 22 2011 08:13 AM
Alan Nakamura from Denver, CO

Sounds pretty smug for someone who has effictively hamstrung the Republicans and cornered them with this "Pledge".

A victory for the American people... yeah, right.

Another reason why lobbyists DO NOT belong in Washington DC.

Nov. 22 2011 08:09 AM

Suggestion for a term to define those republican "followers" who have signed the no new taxes pledge -
"Norquist Eunuchs"

Nov. 22 2011 08:07 AM
Jessie Henshaw from way uptown

Living by a social construct of reality at wide divergence from the physical one is a good working definition of "societal madness". Of course no social network will admit to that, but evidence of communities not getting along because they live by starkly different realities does develop.

In America today we seem to have a wide variety of mad social realities to choose from. It might even be a perennial human condition... Now they've come to clearly interfere with our adapting to changes in the physical world confronting us.

Our economy went from small to big, for example, and like anything else in nature must change directions. Anything that gets "big" has to stop getting "bigger", but our social worlds have devised numerous conflicting ways to believe they, or we, can be an exception. It's preventing us from acting on the problem at all.

The real concern is that in history have produced scores of advanced technological societies, that failed. They tend to be very good at one thing and then, like us, find themselves confused by the next thing, and lost their way.

A good modern day "test for madness" is needed. One is just whether clear physical realities are "anti-social" to believe in. The curious "anti-social reality" that almost everyone finds objectionable to bring up is that for our economy to not get bigger would mean finding a comfortable end to economic growth.

That particular "madness" is a defining characteristic of "tower of Babel" societies, multiplying success to the point of failure. As you check out the details we unquestionably DO seem to have the symptoms. We are also socially hamstrung by being unable to discuss it. That's what I'm pointing out.

I also have clear insights into the natural solutions, but we'd have to talk.

Nov. 22 2011 07:02 AM

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