If you’re not a political junkie, you’ve probably not heard of Norquist nor the group he heads called Americans for Tax Reform. ATR has a pretty simple goal — a simpler, lower, more fair tax code — and one of its tools is a pledge it asks candidates to sign wherein they promise not to raise taxes while in office. This is not a new thing; the pledge has been around for 25 years. In that time, it’s become a popular way of judging where a candidate stands on taxes. You can read both the federal and state versions of the pledge right here.
Harry Reid doesn’t like that pledge, nor does he like Norquist’s insistence that those who sign it actually abide by its provisions. See, Reid really, really wants to raise taxes, and not just on monocle-wearing rich people who steal nickels from babies and swim nightly in their lavish money bins. No, he wants to raise taxes on “the rich”, which in modern Democratic parlance means the 53 percent of Americans who actually pay taxes. And Grover Norquist is in his way, so Reid has fixated on him like Alicia Silverstone fixated on Cary Elwes in The Crush except that, thankfully, Reid hasn’t worn a bikini or short shorts.
Reid invoked the Beast Norquist in a ‘media availability” on Monday to explain why the Republican’s generous offer of $300 billion in shiny new tax revenues simply wasn’t a good enough offer for his Joint Committee members to accept. (no link, unfortunately, but I’m working from a transcript).
Republicans have asked that we make some structural changes to entitlement programs. We told them in order to do that, there has to be some tax revenue in return. And we would need a break from Grover Norquist. But at — you’ve all seen what Grover Norquist has said the last day or two. I may just read some of these quotes, they’re priceless.
This is a quote in one of The Hill newspapers, Grover Norquist, the President of Americans for Tax Reform said the GOP proposal is merely a negotiating position. And that Republican leaders have assured him, they won’t raise taxes. Quote, “It’s not written down. It’s a negotiating position. It won’t pass the House or the Senate. I’ve talked to the House leadership and the Senate leadership. They’re not going to be passing any tax increases.”
It goes on like that for a while. At the end of Reid’s presser, one of the reporters noticed that Reid’s puss face was a little more puss than normal and asked him to give us a bit of encouragement.
QUESTION: What should the American people take away from this if you sound so dejected?
REID: Maybe they should impeach Grover Norquist.
The idea of Norquist as Lord of the Republicans has been a recurring theme lately for Reid, who has a strange fetishistic way of talking about the relationship. In the past few months, he has called Norquist the Republicans’ “leader” and puppet-master, their lover with whom they are “in touch”, the man who holds them “in thrall” and “in submission” with his “infamous” pledge, and the man who tells them what to do because they are “devoted to” or “terrified by” him. Now, I’m not saying that Reid pictures Norquist as a leather-clad bad boy who wields a crop (NTTAWWT!), but his analogies certainly have a particular theme going on, wouldn’t you say?
Look, Reid’s real problem with Norquist isn’t that he won’t give the Majority Leader the spanking he deserves but that he won’t shut up so that Reid can get all the big tax hikes he really wants. The Senate Democrats haven’t passed a budget for coming up on three years and that’s not Grover Norquist’s fault. Reid has all the power he wants to ram the spendiest, taxiest, greediest piece of budgetary crapulence down our throats any time he wants. He won’t do that because he knows there isn’t a single Republican who will go along with it and he needs a few to be on his side so that when Election Day comes around, he can hide behind them to avoid the justified wrath of the voters.
So far, the Republican’s aren’t playing exactly the game he wants them to play. They are willing (foolishly, in my opinion) to give him a big, fat tax hike but they want something in return. In Reid’s perverse little world, though, he’s the guy with the whip, which means he doesn’t have to compromise. But that lack of compromise leaves him vulnerable to political attack, so he’s constructed a new villain behind which he can hide — Grover Norquist.
The truth of the matter is that Norquist is no puppet master. He has a pledge and he intends to do what he can to make sure that everyone who signed the pledge keeps the pledge. That’s not villanous; that’s just honest.
Huh. Honesty. Well that explains why Harry Reid hates him so much.
Category: The Economy and Your Money