UPDATE: Americans for Tax Reform has released a statement to “clarify” Norquist’s remarks:”ATR opposes all tax increases on the American people. Any failure to extend or make permanent the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, in whole or in part, would clearly increase taxes on the American people. In addition, the failure to extend the AMT patch would increase taxes. The outlines of the plans are deliberately hazy, but it appears that both Obama’s Simpson-Bowles commission proposal and the Gang-of-Six proposal dramatically increase taxes on the American people.”
“It is a violation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to trade temporary tax reductions for permanent tax hikes.”
“The present conversations in Washington should focus totally and exclusively on reducing government overspending. President Barack Obama has increased the annual federal budget by almost $1 trillion dollars. ATR has not altered either its policy positions or opposition to all tax increases whatsoever in any debt negotiations.”
“Tax reform that reduces tax rates and broadens the tax base on a revenue neutral basis should be done separately and not in a rush under duress from parties hostile to the interests of taxpayers.”
EARLIER: Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, said allowing the Bush-era Tax cuts to expire would not violate the anti-tax pledge he has pushed nearly every Republican member of Congress to sign — and then he “clarified” his remarks.
In an interview with The Washington Post Editorial Board, Norquist said “not continuing a tax cut is not technically a tax increase.”
Asked if allowing them to expire as scheduled next year would violate the pledge, he added “We wouldn’t hold it that way.”
In an interview with MSNBC Thursday, Norquist walked back his remarks, accusing the paper of taking them out of context, saying the general public would clearly consider allowing the cuts to expire a tax increase.
“Let me be clear, Americans for Tax Reform would oppose any effort to weaken, reduce or not continue the 2001, 2003 Bush tax cuts and in fact any changes in tax should be kept separate from the budget deal,” he said.
His remarks were quickly seized on by congressional Democrats and the White House to pressure Republicans into agreeing to a “balanced” deficit reduction plan.
House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told reporters Thursday that “I think Mr. Norquist has made a very important statement that I hope they each take into consideration.”
“Norquist’s comments in the @washingtonpost are v. significant in the deficit talks,” added White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer in a tweet. “Are most House GOPers to the right of Grover on taxes?”
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