Saturday, November 24, 2012

The sixth sense of Grover Norquist

Here's another politician who's dead and doesn't acknowledge it. Last time it was Newt Gingrich. This time it's Grover Norquist. The Wall Street Journal just published a long interview with him where he tries to buck up the troops in Congress to hold the line on taxes.

"Going over the fiscal cliff, that's not so bad," he seems to say [not his actual words]. Here are his actual words about the fiscal cliff: [It is] "a completely invented crisis. Republicans can't allow themselves to be TARPed again."

The revolt against his tax pledge isn't a major worry to him, because the media is inflating it by interviewing the same five or six elected officials over and over. However, Saxby Chambliss, senator from Georgia, backpedaled the pledge on Wednesday, because he "cares a lot more about American" than about Grover Norquist. That's an interesting way to put it, making it about the personal power and vanity of Norquist.

Norquist seems to think that he can keep almost all the GOP in line with a threat to primary those who falter. We shall see. I predict that Norquist won't have important sway. Many Republicans will break from their pledge. They may work out the math of who shoulders the burden of voting for a tax deal (those senators not facing reelection in 2014), and those who get the safe, anti-tax vote. But a tax increase of some sort will pass.

Single-issue boogie men like Grover Norquist will pass away. The problems in this country are too complex and too pressing to let single-issue pressure groups call the shots. It's not just my view--that's the election result. Norquist is doomed already. He's still screaming as he hangs on by his fingernails, but his grip is failing, and he's going to fall... very, very soon.


Extras. Comments about Chambliss in the Atlanta Journal are mostly negative, in  these two veins: he's a sell-out, or too-little-too-late. Here's the most perceptive: "Grover will find an obedient robot to run against Chambliss. Georgia’s voters are predominantly morons who will do as Fox News and Rush tell them to do." Perhaps Chambliss will be retiring in 2014, and that's why he's making the sacrifice now that relieves pressure on other GOP senators.

The Weekly Standard is trying to line up challengers already. Whoa, I'm scared... I interpret this as maneuvering in the conservative media. Some outlets are trying to keep the pressure on. Others will give GOP officials an escape hatch. That's another prediction. I'll watch for how it plays out in the conservative media.


Anonymous said...

MP - there is no need for a tax increase to pass. The expiration of the 2001/2003 cuts is already baked into the cake on January 1.

Why is it so hard for so many to see that passing a bill which reduces the rates from what they will be on that day - in some form, for some people - is both a cut and will still increase revenue relative to what would be collected if we extend current law?

For my two cents, doing nothing about rates, the sequester or any other extenders is the best thing that can be done for our economy and budget.

For once, the best action is inaction.

ModeratePoli said...

I worry about the effect of pulling 4% out of almost everyone's paycheck. It's not as nasty a shock as losing your job, but it could be a hit that snowballs in an already wobbling economy. Why aren't you worried about it?

However, I agree that it's better than renewing the Bush tax cuts again. They were a mistake then and now.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the response.

While I understand your view, I worry more about not being able to take even the smallest step toward fiscal sanity. Difficult choices need to be made and pain will be felt and shared. I expect the well off to take the biggest hit, but everyone else is going to have to reconcile that ever growing demand for ever greater service, comes with a price. And the bill is now overdue.

ModeratePoli said...

@Anon, I totally agree that the bill is past due. Unlike you, I'm not worried that the smallest step won't take place. I think steps will be taken. If they aren't big enough, even more painful steps will be taken.

Of course, some of the beneficiaries of those services will avoid making the sacrifices. But the object isn't to apportion the sacrifice justly so much as it is to start fixing the problem.

Anonymous said...

MP - my fear is the too many consider no longer accelerating into the brick wall an acceptable outcome. That's all we get with small steps. None of that avoids the collision or even steps on the brakes. At best, we aren't revving ever faster.

So many people are quick to talk about returning to the Clinton era tax rates and point to the budget/economic situation of the time as prof of that mix of policies. Maybe that's true. But if it, then we should be similarly be clamoring for Clinton era spending - even if adjusted for inflation and population changes.

In your other post of today, you point out that on average it will be a 4% for people and that half of that is the reversal of an ill-considered SS Fund depletion scam. So really, we are asking for 2% in order to start putting a dent in the problem. And it is only a dent as we will only have gotten about 2/3rds the way to annual balance and have done nothing about the existing $16 trillion or the existing unfunded liabilities in some many accounts.

I'll go further: I don't mind if we rearrange the spending cuts so that more or less is on the military or on something else. But, don't undermine the total amounts.

ModeratePoli said...


First, it would be great if you chose a screen name --any name except those used by "Members." It's easy: just click on Name/URL and fill in.

You don't seem concerned at all that a very fast correction to our overspending will plunge us into a deep recession. You are wrong to ignore this likely result of an abrupt end to deficit spending. If you don't understand why this should be a consideration, you're missing something very important.

Truth > Spin said...

MP - it isn't that I don't understand or see a quick correction as having negative consequences. I do.

What I also see is that when I balance the downside of a contraction caused by such "quick" action with the downside of continuation of the status quo / putting off the enforcement mechanism of the debt ceiling deal from the summer of 2011, I know where I come down.

When one reviews the history of such past budget deals, you'd have to have Charlie Brown's optimism to think that Think about it: the fiscal cliff is nothing more than exactly what was planned as part of the last deal. So what, we need to save ourselves from our last effort to save ourselves from ourselves? Fail-safes and deals only have value if we think they will stick.

Further, the whole idea that we must extend again because there is too much to do in too little time or that these consequences will occur too quickly is absurd. We've had years and years, and really decades to plan and do better. And what about the last extensions? Was it unknown two years ago that we'd reach this date? Or when any of this was going to happen? Our policy makers actively decided to put everything on hold until the election and we let them.

It is unfair and crappy and people will suffer as a result, but if the only way action can be forced is by deadlines, then the only way deadline can have meaning is if there are consequences for not meeting them. Otherwise, the deadline is meaningless.

I've commented on your page in the past. So I'll try to remember to use this alias in the future.

ModeratePoli said...

Well,@truth, you make a very strong argument, if not strong enough to convince me. I'm in the school of "give them one more chance because they finally seem serious." Also, another deep recession so soon will hamper attempts to collect enough revenue to close the deficit.

However, I'm right there with you when it comes to keeping the pressure on our elected officials to address this problem and not slip into Happytown thinking again.

Truth > Spin said...

MP - the debt ceiling deal of August 2011 was the "one last chance" for me. You may recall that I had previously told you that I worked on Capital Hill for almost 10 years. While there, I saw many such time for action come and go, starting with the budget act of 1997, which was my first year there.

Most everything we face on Jan 1, 2013 results from the 2011 deal. Other than doing the same thing once more and expecting a different result (See Einstein, Albert), what do you think has changed since then? Keep in mind that we are not yet at a critical debt ceiling point, that won't be until March or April, so that leverage isn't available yet.

ModeratePoli said...

@truth, I should've commented earlier, but I don't think we are at status quo. The December '10 agreement to extend the Bush tax cuts (and add in some other spending) and the spring '11 budget/continuing resolution were status quo agreements.

The August '11 agreement was quite different, with a bunch of cuts agreed to.

I do worry that spending restraint has flagged as the Dems became stronger in this election.

I'm of mixed mind about whether the end of ALL the Bush tax cuts would have too negative an effect on the economy. We've already experienced a terrible tipping point with the mortgage crisis and the financial fall-out from that, so I think tipping points exist, and we don't know exactly where they are.

I'll only get an answer after the fact, so I've taken my prediction/guessing as far as it can go. Thanks for your viewpoints.