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On Tuesday, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes made an excellent point about the man whose shadow appears to loom over the entire so-called “fiscal cliff” debate — Grover Norquist:

Norquist’s American Taxpayer Pledge, which is signed by an overwhelming majority of the Republicans in the House and Senate, has effectively changed the tax debate in America to the point that’ we’re only discussing tax increases because the Bush tax breaks are about to expire. And it only works because Norquist has the billionaire funders he needs to back his threat of defeating anyone who dares to defy the pledge.

The Nation‘s Lee Fang looked at the funding for Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform and found that in 2010 — the year of the Tea Party’s epic landslide victory — two-thirds of the group’s funding came from just two “dark money” non-profits: The Center to Protect Patients’ Rights and Crossroads GPS.

The Center to Protect Patients’ Rights is run by Sam Noble, who has been called an “operative” for the infamous Koch Brothers. But a direct connection between the group and the brothers hasn’t been established because the group doesn’t have to list its donors. “The group doled out $44 million in 2010 to the likes of Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, the Club for Growth, and Americans for Prosperity,” according to Mother Jones’ Andy Kroll.

Crossroads GPS is Karl Rove’s “non-profit.”  According to Fang, “The only known donors are folks like Paul Singer, the ‘vulture’ hedge fund king who benefits enormously from tax strategies like the carried interest loophole.”

Of course, the idea of never raising taxes ever is already popular with Republicans, or no one would have signed Norquist’s pledge. But now when Republicans think about having to break it, they know the people who may be funding their primary opponents may include names like Rove and Koch.

Thanks to Norquist and his billionaire backers, the richest have a tax rate on income that’s about one-third of what it was in the 1950s. And the richest, who often take most of their income in the form of capital gains, often pay a lower tax rate than Warren Buffett’s secretary.

The result of what The New York Times‘ Nick Kristof calls “A Failed Experiment“? “… the top 1 percent of Americans now have greater collective net worth than the entire bottom 90 percent.”

That gives the rich plenty of money with which to keep Republicans very attentive to demands of Grover Norquist.

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