• Pragerisms

    For a more comprehensive list of Pragerisms visit
    Dennis Prager Wisdom.

    • "The left is far more interested in gaining power than in creating wealth."
    • "Without wisdom, goodness is worthless."
    • "I prefer clarity to agreement."
    • "First tell the truth, then state your opinion."
    • "Being on the Left means never having to say you're sorry."
    • "If you don't fight evil, you fight gobal warming."
    • "There are things that are so dumb, you have to learn them."
  • Liberalism’s Seven Deadly Sins

    • Sexism
    • Intolerance
    • Xenophobia
    • Racism
    • Islamophobia
    • Bigotry
    • Homophobia

    A liberal need only accuse you of one of the above in order to end all discussion and excuse himself from further elucidation of his position.

  • Glenn’s Reading List for Die-Hard Pragerites

    • Bolton, John - Surrender is not an Option
    • Bruce, Tammy - The Thought Police; The New American Revolution; The Death of Right and Wrong
    • Charen, Mona - DoGooders:How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help
    • Coulter, Ann - If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans; Slander
    • Dalrymple, Theodore - In Praise of Prejudice; Our Culture, What's Left of It
    • Doyle, William - Inside the Oval Office
    • Elder, Larry - Stupid Black Men: How to Play the Race Card--and Lose
    • Frankl, Victor - Man's Search for Meaning
    • Flynn, Daniel - Intellectual Morons
    • Fund, John - Stealing Elections
    • Friedman, George - America's Secret War
    • Goldberg, Bernard - Bias; Arrogance
    • Goldberg, Jonah - Liberal Fascism
    • Herson, James - Tales from the Left Coast
    • Horowitz, David - Left Illusions; The Professors
    • Klein, Edward - The Truth about Hillary
    • Mnookin, Seth - Hard News: Twenty-one Brutal Months at The New York Times and How They Changed the American Media
    • Morris, Dick - Because He Could; Rewriting History
    • O'Beirne, Kate - Women Who Make the World Worse
    • Olson, Barbara - The Final Days: The Last, Desperate Abuses of Power by the Clinton White House
    • O'Neill, John - Unfit For Command
    • Piereson, James - Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism
    • Prager, Dennis - Think A Second Time
    • Sharansky, Natan - The Case for Democracy
    • Stein, Ben - Can America Survive? The Rage of the Left, the Truth, and What to Do About It
    • Steyn, Mark - America Alone
    • Stephanopolous, George - All Too Human
    • Thomas, Clarence - My Grandfather's Son
    • Timmerman, Kenneth - Shadow Warriors
    • Williams, Juan - Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America--and What We Can Do About It
    • Wright, Lawrence - The Looming Tower

Should Washington’s Largesse to Crones be Pushed Over the Cliff on 12-12??

Stephen Moore

Grover Norquist:

Washington enemy number one

Washington‘No one is caving,” Grover Norquist says emphatically and repeatedly when we meet this week in his office in the nation’s capital. By “no one” he means congressional Republicans, and by “caving” he means surrendering to Barack Obama‘s call for tax increases. Republicans are facing an avalanche of pressure from the White House, the media and even many on Wall Street to abandon their antitax principles to avoid a “fiscal cliff.”

Mr. Norquist, who runs the influential advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform, finds himself smack in the middle of the political fight in Washington over whether taxes will rise on investors and businesses next year, a move he believes would cripple the Republican Party and could plunge the economy into another recession.

He rattles off a list of reasons Republicans won’t give in. If taxes rise on everyone next year because of a stalemate, he says, “who are you going to believe wants taxes to go up? Obama doesn’t have credibility on keeping your taxes down; Republicans do.”

And don’t forget: “Nothing has changed on the chess board since Barack Obama agreed to extend all the Bush tax cuts two years ago. Exactly the same players. Republicans still control the House and Democrats still control the White House and the Senate.” Then he delivers the clincher: “For 20 years Democrats have tried over and over to trick Republicans into breaking the pledge. It hasn’t happened. This isn’t my first rodeo.”

I’m not nearly as optimistic that Republicans won’t capitulate in the weeks ahead, but this is quintessential Grover, one of the few people in Washington known by friend and foe alike by his first name. In the 25 years I’ve known him, the man is always upbeat and the glass is always half full, even apparently now, following the GOP’s demoralizing election defeat. He’s forever plotting the next move or counteroffensive against “the other team,” i.e., the Democrats.

His political leverage comes from his famous “taxpayer protection pledge,” which asks politicians to promise they won’t raise taxes. It has become GOP dogma since 1990, when George H.W. Bush broke his “read my lips” no-new-taxes promise and then lost his bid for a second term.

Mr. Norquist has spent his career making sure this mistake never happens again. He has been amazingly successful. Since 1993, there hasn’t been a major tax increase in Washington with the exception of the 2010 ObamaCare law—which not a single Republican voted for. For 20 years, every Republican presidential nominee, most GOP governors, and almost all Republican Senate and House candidates have signed the pledge. He sees the pledge as embedded in the Republican brand: “It’s a constant reminder to voters, ‘Oh yeah, Republicans are the ones who won’t raise my taxes.’ ”

The pressure on Republicans to repudiate this oath has never been as intense as it is now. Mr. Obama is claiming a voter mandate to raise taxes, while the media and liberals are declaring that the days of “Norquistism,” as they derisively call it, are over. A New York Times story this week claimed that more Republicans are ready to violate the pledge. After the 2011 debt-ceiling debacle, the election losses and the prospect of getting blamed for going over the fiscal cliff, the conventional wisdom is that the GOP has no choice but to fold.

Mr. Norquist insists that this won’t happen because Republicans who think Mr. Obama or Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are ever going to agree to cut domestic spending or reform entitlements are “chasing imaginary unicorns.”

The scare talk about financial Armageddon if Republicans won’t raise taxes is “a completely invented crisis. Republicans can’t allow themselves to be TARPed again,” he warns. By this he means that the fiscal cliff is a replay of the tactic Washington and Wall Street used in late 2008 to bully Republicans into passing the $700 billion bank bailout.

“The world won’t come to an end if this isn’t resolved before January,” Mr. Norquist says. Part one of his strategy is “for House Republicans to pass a bill now to extend all the tax cuts for everyone . . . so everyone knows that their tax bill won’t be going up” in 2013.

Part two is for Republicans to demand that all negotiations with the White House take place in front of C-Span cameras. That makes sense because history proves that Republicans get snookered behind closed doors, and public negotiations allow voters to see what Democrats are really offering. He also wants any compromise to be available at least seven days before a House and Senate vote.

Mr. Norquist is unbending in his conviction that the only option for raising revenues and staying true to the pledge is through pro-growth reform. “Any deal now that closes loopholes,” he figures, “is the destruction of tax reform.” Why? Because “any dollar taken out of credits and deductions and then spent by Congress is not a dollar you can use for tax reform and cutting tax rates later.”

I ask why the Democrats and the left are so obsessed with burying his tax pledge. Mr. Norquist replies that their main goal is not to lower the deficit or avoid a stock-market selloff. Rather, “Democrats want to spend and spend and spend. Obama did that with the stimulus, TARP II, ObamaCare. But they desperately need Republicans to validate that spending by raising taxes. Republicans could be counted on to do that when they were a minority party in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, and during two momentary lapses in 1982 and 1990.” The Republicans became, as Jack Kemp used to put it, “the tax collectors for the welfare state.”

Mr. Norquist adds that “even more than getting more revenues, they want Republican fingerprints on tax increases so they can smash Republicans in the next series of elections.”

I remind Mr. Norquist that the election exit polls show that voters, for the first time in two decades, favor higher taxes on the rich. He winces at the mere suggestion but says that voters understand that their own taxes will increase as well. He paraphrases a 2011 Rasmussen poll question: “If they are going to raise taxes on the rich, do you believe, at the end of the day, they’ll actually raise taxes on the middle class and you? Yes, 75%. So do you think voters really believe that they’re dodging a bullet [by taxing the rich] or do they believe they’re next?”

Mr. Norquist wants Republicans to reinforce this message, educating voters that higher taxes on the rich are “pure acts of symbolism.” Democrats can’t raise enough money to make even a dent in the deficit with their tax hike. The Obama budget “calls for $8 trillion of deficits, after he’s extracted all these new taxes. This is why the Democrats will say, ‘Oh, sorry, we didn’t solve the problem, now we have to raise taxes on you.’ ”

How will they do that? Mr Norquist says that after Democrats get the tax hike on the rich, they’ll go “straight toward an energy tax or a value-added tax.” This is the only way “you get to a European size of government.”

Are Republicans defecting from the taxpayer protection pledge? Sounding exasperated, he says, yes, a few are having “impure thoughts. But the media keeps interviewing the same five or so Republicans in Congress who want to cut a deal.”

He notes that “every day last year the press was reporting some Republican who was willing to raise taxes in return for a hypothetical revamping of all our retirement programs. And for eight months, people like [Oklahoma GOP Sen. Tom] Coburn sat in rooms with [Illinois Democratic Sen. Richard] Durbin and what’d they find out? There was no spending restraint. There was no fundamental reform. And so even the ones who had impure thoughts about raising taxes in return for cuts got nowhere.”

Have Republicans called to ask if they can break the pledge? “No, none,” Mr. Norquist replies. He says 200 House Republicans have signed the pledge and at least 20 more have campaigned on not raising taxes. Of the three Senate Republicans who may vote for higher taxes—Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander—all are up for re-election in 2014 and they “like being senators.”

So what is the way out of this debt crisis? Mr. Norquist advises GOP leaders that the best outcome for 2013 is to “take the sequester.” These are real across-the-board cuts of about $1.2 trillion over the next decade that start to take effect in January.

Many Republicans and military experts say the cuts could be catastrophic for national security. But Mr. Norquist agrees with the many House Republicans who say that “the only thing worse than sequester cuts is to not cut spending at all.”

Will Republicans take the sequester? “I believe they will at the end of the day, though they should offer the defense secretary more flexibility in making the cuts,” he says. “This is just much better than raising taxes.” Then they should abide by the “Boehner rule”—as in House Speaker John Boehner—which requires that every dollar increase in the debt ceiling is accompanied by a dollar of spending cuts.

The question is whether any of this is politically realistic. Mr. Boehner has already put “revenues” on the table, presumably even if tax rates don’t decline. Mr. Norquist says Republicans should tough it out even if it means going over the tax cliff, pass a bill one more time to extend current tax rates in January, and then Mr. Obama will be the one to bend and sign it.

But what if the president doesn’t sign such a bill—and then blames Republicans for the fallout and demands that they pass a tax cut only for those below $250,000 in income? Would that violate the pledge? “That’s not for me to decide,” he replies. “Republicans will have to go to the American people and they will decide whether this was acceptable.” He also adamantly denies wanting to go over the fiscal cliff. “If we do go over, it’s the president’s fault.”

What is the political fallout if Republicans do break the pledge, which Mr. Norquist defines as voting for any net tax increase? He says the pledge is a commitment to the people of their district, state and country—not to him. If Republicans break their word, “They are saying, ‘I was elected under false pretenses because I misled you about what I would do.'”

He then recites his favorite political story. “George Herbert Walker Bush managed the collapse of the Soviet Union, kicked Iraq out of Kuwait, had a 90% approval rating, however he agreed to a tax-increase deal [consisting of] two dollars of spending cuts for every one dollar of taxes. And he lost the presidency. Republicans who raise taxes have a hard time explaining to anybody other than a congenital Republican why you should elect them.”

But Mr. Norquist is always happier talking about the carrot than the stick. “I feel very comfortable with where the Republican leaders are right now,” he says. “We are infinitely stronger than we were two and four and 10 years ago as a Republican Party. We should be much more confident. We should emphasize growth and do a better job spreading the message to all voters. Explaining to people why tax increases are bad for the economy—that should be child’s play.”

Mr. Moore is a member of the Journal’s editorial board.

A version of this article appeared November 24, 2012, on page A11 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Washington Enemy No. 1.

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