Photo: flickr / Gage Skidmore
Grover Norquist, the anti-tax lobbyist, is said to be “the most powerful lobbyist in Washington.” Democrats and some Republicans say he is “holding the Supercomittee hostage.”Senator Harry Reid has asked that the American people “impeach” Norquist.
What has this man done? Well, he offers candidates the chance to sign a “Taxpayer’s Protection Pledge” in public.
Here’s the text of the pledge:
I, _______________, pledge to the taxpayers of the _____ district of the state of__________, 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.
And then he holds them to it. That’s it. It is done in public.
Most Republicans who aspire to office want to be on Grover’s good list. They want him to advertise it. And then some of them get in office and they try to wriggle their way out of it.
“But what if circumstances change?”, they ask.
Well you signed an open-ended pledge not to raise taxes.
“But what if Democrats are offering $10 in spending cuts for every $1 in raised revenue?”
Well, you kind of put your name on something that promised never to raise taxes.
“But I really really want to! We really should raise them.”
Fine, then go ahead. You probably derived some kind of electoral benefit from signing the pledge, now be prepared to pay the price for breaking it.
If there is a problem here, it isn’t with Grover Norquist. The problem is with Republicans who pre-emptively sign away a policy decision they could use in governing, or in a compromise.
Here’s a simple piece of advice to Republicans who don’t like the pledge: don’t sign it.
And then if you want to prove your anti-tax bona fides, you’ll have to do it the old-fashioned way, by consistently opposing tax increases and lowering taxes.
Indeed, most Republican voters are willing to trade slightly-higher taxes on wealthy Americans, for significant adjustments to entitlement programs. That was easy to figure out years ago, before most GOP lawmakers signed the pledge.
Most lobbyists conduct back-room meetings with politicians. They extract promises of policy and support in secret. Norquist’s Pledge and the campaigns he runs against pledge-breakers are completely open and transparent.
You may not like the results, but there is nothing mysterious about them.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.