Friday, August 12, 2011

Last Night Reagan Rolled Over in His Grave as Grover Chortled!

Grover Norquist, Founder, Americans for Tax Reform


Over two months ago I posted about Grover Norquist, the founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform. I called him the most dangerous man in America.   I promised to follow up my first post, but got sidetracked. Last night's GOP debate in Iowa reminded me of unfinished business.

Last night, eight of the announced candidates for the Republican Party presidential nomination pledged their fealty to Mr. Norquist and the Taxed Enough Already (TEA) Party by committing to turn their back on raising taxes as part of a plan for reducing the nation's deficit. Here is the Democratic Party's Rapid Response Team's video clip based on a single question posed to all eight candidates:

Kudos to Fox News' Bret Baier for posing this question, and for following up the question with a "let the record reflect that all eight candidates raised their hands" statement to drive home the significance of the response.

The only way that Baier might have improved on his effort would have been to follow up by saying "Please keep your hands up for now, and drop your hand only if you would accept a spending reduction to tax increase ratio of 20 to 1?  Drop your hand if you would accept a 50 to 1 ratio?  How about 100 to 1?   (A la Abraham negotiating with God over how few righteous men and women in Sodom would be enough to warrant God not destroying the city.  Genesis 18:22-33.)

Not a single candidate kept his or her hand down and then asked to explain by saying something on the order of:  "I am not willing to commit to rejecting any spending cut and tax increase ratio in the abstract.  For example, I can envision that having to defend our country in some future conflict overseas would require a tax increase as part of an effort to avoid a substantial unplanned increase in our national debt."  or "If we restore full employment to the United States economy and decide it is best to accelerate the rate at which we want to reduce deficits, I could be persuaded that modest tax increases might be desirable as part of a deficit reduction plan tilted heavily towards spending reductions."  None of that.  Just "no new taxes." Full stop. 

Ronald Reagan is a patron saint of the Republican party.  On August 13, 1981, with the U.S. economy mired in the middle of a double-dip recession,  Ronald Reagan signed the Economic Recovery Tax Act, adopting the trickle-down theory that doing so, and reducing overall personal taxes over time by 23%, would stimulate so much growth in the economy that it would actually increase tax revenues for the government.  Just a year later, on September 3,1982, faced with burgeoning deficits, Reagan signed the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982, which cut back on the tax reductions of the previous year.  In 2003, former Reagan adviser Bruce Bartlett wrote in National Review that "TEFRA raised taxes by $37.5 billion per year", elaborating, "according to a recent Treasury Department study, TEFRA alone raised taxes by almost 1 percent of the gross domestic product, making it the largest peacetime tax increase in American history." Following his initial tax cut, President Reagan signed legislation on eleven occasions that served to raise taxes. The patron saint of Republicans was too sensible to address deficits just by cutting programs protecting the elderly and middle class (which he also did.)

Today's successful Republican's must apparently pledge their unwavering loyalty to Grover Norquist and his no new taxes pledge. Here is what the pledge looks like for a U.S. Senator, like Ron Johnson, who has signed:

Taxpayer Protection Pledge
I, Ron Johnson, pledge to the taxpayers of the state
of Wisconsin, and to the American people that I 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.

Grover requires someone like Ron Johnson to sign the pledge in the presence of two witnesses.  Living up to part two of this pledge would have put Senator Johnson on a collision course with President Reagan had Johnson served in the U.S. Senate in the early 1980's.

Here is the oath of office that Ron Johnson took as a U.S. Senator:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God."

An obvious question is which promise is more sacred to someone like Ron Johnson and other politicians that sign on with Grover and his cadre, the Taxpayer Protection Pledge or their oath of office?

1 comment:

  1. Did anyone witness Johnson taking his oath to the Constitution?