Let’s be clear. Despite what the press may say, we don’t have a spending problem. We have a revenue problem, and, if Grover Norquist has his way, that’s exactly how things will stay.
Grover Norquist, founder of the conservative think-tank Americans for Tax Reform has been orchestrating this anti-revenue strain in the Republican party for decades. In a recent profile in the New York Times, Norquist practically crows about his ability to dominate the taxing/spending narrative and, likely permanently, alter the landscape of American politics.
Norquist is not a man of moderation. His mantra that government is an overbearing glutton is as pervasive and pernicious as the idea of “frivolous lawsuits.” It’s an idea that government, on the whole, is burdensome and unnecessary. Get the people served by government to believe it and you’ve created the perfect foundation for people voting against their own economic interests. Again and again and again.
He’s also perfected the art of creating the non-compromisers with his “pledge,” a public promise not to vote for any net tax increase under any circumstances. Those who don’t sign this pledge face the wrath, complete with considerable financial backing, of Norquist’s AFT and subsidiary groups. So far all but 6 of the 240 Republicans in the House, and even two Democrats, have signed the pledge.
Despite close ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Norquist manages to remain a key and influential player in Washington, if not the most influential. Not only is he influencing politics on the national level, he is doing so at the state level as well, with equally devastating consequences.
But politics is not the same as governance, a point lost on those elected officials answering not to their constituents but to Norquist, and the difference between the two is about to become painfully obvious.
Photo from gageskidmore via flickr