Entries in Grover Norquist (6)


Grover Norquist: Obama and Democrats Using Newtown for “Political Purposes”

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- National Rifle Association board member and president of Americans for Tax Reform Grover Norquist said on Sunday that President Obama and Democrats are politicizing the Newtown tragedy by pushing for gun control.

“We ought to calm down and not take tragedies like this, crimes like this, and use them for political purposes,” Norquist told George Stephanopoulos on This Week. “President Obama has been president for four years. If he thought some gun control could solve this problem, he should have been pushing it years ago.”

“Democrats had a majority in the House and a supermajority in the House and the Senate for the first two years that they were in office. If they thought that this was really an important issue they might have done something then. They didn’t,” he added.

On Wednesday, Obama announced that Vice President Joe Biden would head a task force of leaders from across the country to evaluate solutions to reduce gun violence.

Norquist endorsed the recommendation made by NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre at a press conference on Friday to place armed guards in schools across the country.

Other members of the political roundtable pushed for what they called “common sense” gun laws.

Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker, who is a member of the pro-gun control group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, said that there is more agreement than disagreement on measures to stop the mentally ill and criminals from acquiring weapons.

“I don’t think anyone has seen someone shot—I have,” Booker said. “I don’t know if anybody here has had to put their hand in somebody’s chest, and try to stop the bleeding so that person doesn’t die—I have. What frustrates me about this debate is that it is a false debate.”

“Most of us in America including gun owners agree on things that would stop the kind of carnage that is going on in cities all across America,” Booker said, adding that loopholes that allow criminals to buy guns in “secondary markets” should be closed.

Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan said that LaPierre’s suggestion that the effect of a violent culture on the mentally ill has contributed to increased gun violence, but she believes that Congress should pursue some gun control measures.

“I am for the banning of the extended magazines and extended clips,” Noonan said.

Editor and Publisher of The Nation Katrina vanden Heuvel said that focusing on the mentally ill is a distraction from the issue of gun violence.

“The mental illness argument has been used to evade action,” vanden Huevel said. “More guns and bullets, more dead children.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Violating Norquist's No-Tax Pledge Could Hurt GOP in 2014

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The most talked about name in the opening weeks of the fiscal cliff negotiations isn't President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner or Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  It's Grover Norquist.

Norquist is not a publicly elected official or even a government appointee.  The 56-year-old conservative leader is the founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform and promoter of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge -- better known as the Norquist Pledge.

Americans for Tax Reform opposes tax increases, and the Norquist Pledge calls on members of Congress to do just that.  Taken at face value, this pledge poses a big roadblock to any compromise with Democrats in the ongoing fiscal cliff negotiations, even though several prominent Republican leaders have recently signaled an openness to put everything on the table in negotiations, which would seem to violate the pledge.

If the goal at the end of these negotiations is compromise, could there be political risk in Republicans' violating the pledge?  

Actually, yes. Violating the pledge all but ensures a primary challenge in two years from the Republican right.

"A defection on taxes almost guarantees it -- the End," said ABC News' political director Amy Walter.

"It's all about the GOP base," said Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.  "Most of the Republican House members and a large number of the party's senators are very safe in a general election.  No Democrat can beat them.  The only place they can lose is in the low-turnout party primary, which is usually dominated by strong conservatives for whom the word 'tax' is almost an obscenity."

It's these voters who make up the GOP base who will likely be the most involved in primary contests -- on the ground, in fundraising and, of course, at the voting booths.

"These activist voters listen to Norquist and his organization, and they have the money to get the message out to voters in TV ads and mailings," Sabato said.  "A Republican member tagged with supported tax increases is awarded the political kiss of death."

Two prominent GOP senators up for re-election in deep-red states in 2014 have already expressed a willingness to buck the Norquist Pledge: Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

"I agree with Grover -- we shouldn't raise rates -- but I think Grover is wrong when it comes to we can't cap deductions and buy down debt," Graham said on ABC's This Week.

"I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge," Chambliss said in an interview with WMAZ-TV in Macon, Ga.  "If we do it his way, then we'll continue in debt, and I just have a disagreement with him about that."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


GOP Starting to Rebel Against No-Tax-Hikes Pledge

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- With the fiscal cliff looming for the United States, some Republican members of Congress said on Sunday that they are ready to break a long-standing pledge not to raise taxes.

"The only pledge we should be making to each other is to avoid becoming Greece.  And Republicans should put revenue on the table," South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said on ABC's This Week.

Graham's comments followed those by another Republican senator, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, who said last week that he'll no longer abide by the pledge.

"I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge," he said in a local interview.

He got support on Sunday from House member Peter King, another Republican from New York.

"I agree entirely with Saxby Chambliss -- a pledge he signed 20 years ago, 18 years ago is for that Congress," King said on NBC's Meet the Press.  He added, "The world is changed and the economic situation is different."

This growing chorus is about the pledge that Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist has gotten hundreds of Republicans to sign.  But in an interview with ABC News, Norquist says it has just a few deserters.

"The people who have made a commitment to their constituents are largely keeping it," he said.  "The fact is there is more support for both protecting the rates, you saw the Republican leader in the House say rates are non-negotiable, and he also talked about revenue coming from growth."

President Obama has said rates will go up for the wealthy.  But there could be some political cover for Republicans if the country actually goes over the cliff.  All the Bush-era tax cuts would expire, including those for the wealthy.  Congress could then vote to actually reduce taxes for everyone expect the rich.  Therefore, they wouldn't technically raise taxes and violate Norquist's pledge.

But Norquist said he doesn't think the public would buy those political moves, and he also doesn't think the country will actually go over the cliff.

"I think we'll continue the tax cuts.  Not raise taxes $500 billion.  Obama made the correct decision (by extending the Bush tax cuts) two years ago," Norquist told ABC News.

Leading Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin also said he believes a deal is possible now that the Thanksgiving holiday break is over.

"We can solve this problem," he said on This Week, adding, "There's no excuse.  We're back in town."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Norquist Says Obama's 'Poopy-Head' Portrayal of Romney Led to Reelection

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Anti-tax champion Grover Norquist says President Obama won reelection by portraying Mitt Romney as a “poopy-head,” not because of his economic policies.

Appearing on CBS' This Morning Monday, the president of Americans for Tax Reform suggested Obama’s reelection did not signify a national choice on tax policy and disputed the notion that Americans chose Obama over Romney because of his repeated argument that wealthy Americans should pay higher rates. Instead, he said, Obama won on his negative portrayal of the GOP candidate.

“We just had an election, and the House of Representatives was elected [sic] committed to keeping taxes low,” Norquist told interviewer Charlie Rose.

“The president was elected on the basis that he was not Romney and that Romney was a poopy-head, and you should vote against Romney, and he won by two points,” Norquist said, referring to Obama’s 50 percent to 48 percent margin of victory in the national popular vote.  "But he didn’t make the case that we should have higher taxes and higher spending. He kind of sounded like the opposite.”

Norquist founded Americans for Tax Reform in 1985, and he is known in political circles as the author and keeper of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge -- a document that most Republican lawmakers sign, pledging not to raise marginal tax rates and to oppose any effort to eliminate tax credits or deductions without accompanying reductions in tax rates.

House Speaker John Boehner and some Senate Republicans have signaled that revenue-raising must be on the table. Boehner has also said he opposes raising marginal tax rates.

Norquist has long held that lower tax rates lead to higher revenue, by spurring economic growth. He reiterated that stance in his interview with Rose and co-anchor Norah O’Donnell.

“You can get higher revenue through economic growth,” Norquist said. “If you grow at 4 percent a year instead of 2 percent a year, the government would get $5 trillion in additional revenue. I’d rather do growth than raise taxes, which slows the economy and damages things.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Republicans Take Aim at Pillar of GOP Tax Policy

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Taxpayer Protection Pledge has been the gold standard of Republican tax orthodoxy for decades.

Known informally as “The Pledge” and cooked up by conservative strategist Grover Norquist in 1986, it asks two simple promises of its signers: that they oppose any tax-rate hikes for people or businesses, and that they fight to keep all tax credits and deductions unless rates are simultaneously dropped.

All but 13 Republicans in the Congress -- six senators and seven representatives -- have signed the pledge.

But now, with deficits and debt in the political forefront, the pledge is under attack from some prominent Republicans seeking to get U.S. balance sheets under control.

“I stand by the idea that we shouldn’t raise rates,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told ABC’s Jon Karl in an interview.

“When you eliminate a deduction, it’s OK with me to use some of that money to get us out of debt. That’s where I disagree with the tax pledge....We’re so far in debt that if you don’t give up some ideological ground, the country sinks.”

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, considered a possible VP selection for Mitt Romney, protests that he won’t be asked to join the Romney campaign because he supports higher taxes. “If you could bring to me a majority of people to say that we’re going to have $10 in spending cuts for $1 of revenue enhancement, put me in, coach,” Bush told the House Budget Committee, testifying before the panel in Washington this month. “This will prove I’m not running for anything.”

At an August presidential debate hosted by Fox News in Ames, Iowa, every GOP candidate on stage declined to back a deficit-reduction deal that would favor spending cuts over tax hikes by a ratio of 10 to one.

Bush did not sign the tax pledge as a candidate or as governor, nor did he raise taxes while in office. “The pledge was presented to me three times. I never signed the pledge. I cut taxes every year I was governor. I don’t believe you outsource your principles and convictions to people. I respect Grover’s political involvement. He has it every right to do it, but I never signed any pledge,” Bush told the committee.

The United States is more than $15 trillion in debt, having run consecutive budget deficits since 2002 and trillion-dollar-plus deficits since 2009. A “Taxmageddon” looms at the end of 2012, with the Bush tax cuts set to expire and with automatic spending cuts triggered in January, prompted by the deficit super committee’s failure to reach a deal, unless Congress and President Obama can arrive at a compromise.

Norquist said he’s not worried about Republicans agreeing to raise taxes anytime soon.

“I worry more about satellites falling on my head,” Norquist told ABC in a phone interview Tuesday.

In his typically ebullient manner, the pledge architect had colorful words for both Bush and Graham.

“Former governor of Florida Jeb Bush hasn’t been elected to anything in 10 years, [and he] gets asked a hypothetical question about ‘ten to one,’ which is the same question that ruined his father’s presidency and cut it in half, and he answered it in the same way his father did,” Norquist said. “Lindsey Graham is not a thought leader in the Republican Party...again, he’s answering a hypothetical, which will never be offered to him, the idea that the Democratic party offers significant spending cuts in exchange for tinkering here and there with a couple tax credits.”

After holding the line on taxes last summer, as the debt-limit stalemate threatened to derail both governmental functions and the U.S. economy, Norquist said the GOP holds a stronger position as this year’s deficit discussion begins. He does not, he said, see trouble looming.

“I don’t have to keep anybody in line. These are commitments people made to their constituents,” Norquist said. “I think almost everyone will keep their word, and even the people who get weak knees will look around and find themselves all by their lonesome and run back to their foxholes.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Reid on Jobs Bill Debate: GOP 'Being Led Like Puppets' by Grover Norquist

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As the Senate this week takes up the next piece of the jobs bill -- a $70 billion bill to rebuild roads, bridges and infrastructure -- Senate Majority Leader, D-Nev., Tuesday took aim at anti-tax activist Grover Norquist for holding back Senate Republicans.
“My Republican friends, these poor folks, are being led like puppets by Grover Norquist,” Reid said Tuesday following the Senate Democrats weekly caucus luncheon. “They are giving speeches that we should compromise on our deficit but never do they compromise on Grover Norquist. He is their leader.”
Republicans have been consistently against the provision within each piece of the jobs bill that the Senate has plucked out and attempted, to no avail, to pass because of their opposition to the included tax on millionaires as a way to pay for the measure. In the most recent piece of Obama’s jobs bill the Senate is taking up, the “Rebuild America Jobs Act,” which invests $50 billion in immediate projects for roads, rails and airports and another $10 billion for a National Infrastructure Bank, the bill is paid for by a 0.7-percent surcharge of Americans making over $1 million.
Senator Reid Tuesday said that he wants to get their jobs bill done, “but it’s impossible to do with Grover Norquist leading the charge for the Republicans.”
Norquist responded via Twitter to Reid, tweeting Tuesday afternoon, “Hey Harry Reid: if I became a Buddhist monk and moved to Himalayas no pledge taker would help you raise taxes. They Promised their voters.”
Senate Minority Leader McConnell said the Senate should focus time on passing legislation that has bipartisan support, noting that the Democratic plan right now seems to be to just push bills, like the current infrastructure jobs bill, that they know can’t pass and then “complain” when they aren’t.
McConnell said he will likely offer a Republican alternative to the infrastructure bill this week, noting that infrastructure is “pretty popular” but not in its current form with tax increases.
Senate Republicans are also putting pressure on Reid this week to take up another piece of Obama’s jobs bill, legislation which repeals a requirement that governments withhold 3 percent of payments to contractors, which the House of Representatives passed last week.
The Senate has failed to reach an agreement on the measure two weeks ago. Tuesday, Reid suggested the measure should be amended in the Senate.
“I think we should amend it and make sure that those people who are not delinquent in their taxes, they get the benefit of what we’re trying to do,” Reid said, “Those that are not don’t. Those that are delinquent in their taxes, you’d still withhold the money from them.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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