Can Grover Norquist change tax policy?

The anti-tax activist has a lot to say about tax reform, but his assessment is questionable.

Larry Downing / Reuters / File
Americans For Tax Reform member Grover Norquist speaks to an audience at the 38th annual Conservative Political Action Conference meeting at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, February 11, 2011. Guest blogger Diane Lim Rogers writes that Norquist has gotten a few things wrong.

I think Ezra Klein shows remarkable restraint in his interview of anti-tax activist Grover Norquist in today’s Washington Post. There’s something very scarily familiar about Grover’s “winning” view of the (fiscal policy) world he works within. The “best” answer is his last (emphasis and endnotes added):

GN: The goal is to reduce the size and scope of government spending, not to focus on the deficit. The deficit is the symptom of the disease. And there are several reasons to oppose tax increases.

First, every dollar of tax increase is a dollar you didn’t get in spending restraint.[1]

Two, you walk into the Democrats’ Andrews-Air-Force-Base, Lucy-with-the-football trick for the third time in a row.[2]

In ‘82 and ‘90, the Republicans were smart, tough, focused guys. They were taken to the cleaners. The Republicans negotiating with the Democrats are negotiating with Dick Durbin. Durbin. Durbin! Does Durbin have an interest in cutting any government program in the history of the world at any time in his life? No. Never. He’s there to sucker Republicans into putting their fingerprints on a tax increase so when you go into an election, people say, “Can’t trust them. They’ll raise taxes.”

The reason it won’t happen is that the Republicans have taken the pledge and made a promise to their constituents that they won’t increases taxes.

No, there won’t be a tax increase. That’s not happening. It’s an odd way to spend your time. I think golf and cocaine would more constructive ways to spend one’s free time time than negotiating with Democrats on spending restraint.[3]

[1] No, every dollar of a tax cut or tax increase avoided is another dollar of spending that we’ve deficit-financed and hence made seem as if “free.” Until we force spending increases to be offset by increased taxes, (even) Republicans have little incentive to control spending.

[2] I don’t exactly get this analogy, but Grover sure seems to be channeling Charlie Brown here. (Hmmm…a little bit insecure and paranoid, perhaps?)

[3] So does cocaine explain Grover’s (fiscal policy) world view?!

I also find it interesting how throughout the interview Grover manages to attack and/or insult just about everybody, including the conservatives/Tea Partiers he’s trying to woo. (Catch the reference to guns and home-schooling.)

I mean, let’s just call a crazy a crazy.

“Winning” is not possible for us if we allow losers like this to sway public opinion and policy.

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