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Thursday, December 8, 2016

There’s two ways to look at Grover Norquist. He’s either the most powerful unelected man in the world or an amazing self-promoter who is about to be proven obsolete. Norquist obviously feels he’s the former. For nearly two decades, he’s held Republicans to a pledge to never raise taxes. Now he wants them to force the president to cede to their wishes on a monthly basis.

The President of Americans for Tax Reform is urging Republicans to use the debt ceiling to exact spending cuts or continue the Bush tax cuts for incomes over $250,000.

“The debt ceiling that Obama’s plans bump into every month or so for the next four years provides plenty of ‘leverage’ for the GOP to trade for spending cuts — as done in 2011 — or continuing the lower rates,” Norquist wrote Wednesday in The Hill.

Nearly 6 out of 10 Americans want to end the Bush tax breaks for the rich. But enough Republicans in the House and Senate have signed Norquist’s American Taxpayer Pledge that he’s certain that the negotiations on the so-called “fiscal cliff” can end without taxes going up.

After an electoral college landslide, many — including the White House — believe that the president has the leverage in negotiations. But the debt ceiling, which we will hit in February, does give Republicans a chance to make demands on the president.

When President Obama asked Speaker Boehner to raise the debt limit, Boehner reportedly said, “There is a price for everything.”

In 2011, Republicans, for the first time ever, used the debt limit to force cuts — something they never asked for in the dozens of times they raised the limit for the last three Republican presidents.

Though senators Lindsey Graham, Saxby Chambliss and other Republicans have said they would break their pledge with Norquist, the lobbyist seems unfazed. He told Slate’s Dave Weigel that he has no concerns that his pledge is about to crumble.

“I’ve talked to Lindsey Graham on the phone after some of his pronouncements, and he’s said, ‘Oh, I would need 10-1 [ratio of cuts to tax hikes], and it would have to include permanent, unalterable entitlement reform.’ I said, ‘Lindsey, if that’s what it’s going to take to get you to raise taxes, I’m not going to worry about you,” Norquist said. “You are not in danger of being offered a silver unicorn, because unicorns don’t exist.”

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