Grover Norquist, the influential president of Americans for Tax Reform, said he would support a plan, negotiated by Vice President Joe Biden and House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, to resolve the fiscal cliff drama.
“This is progress in terms of making most of the Bush tax cuts permanent,” Norquist told CNN. “Is it enough? No. Does it do anything on spending? No. But that’s what the next four years are going to be.
“The next four years will be about clawing back the overspending of the Obama years — and now we need to get the spending down,” he added. “The problem is too much spending, not too little taxes, and now we turn our attention to spending cuts.”
Democrat Biden and McConnell, the Kentucky Republican, have been in talks on a deal to avert more than $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to take effect on Jan. 2. The House of Representatives adjourned Monday until noon on Tuesday pending the outcome of Senate vote.
The biggest concession the GOP made in the fiscal-cliff talks, Norquist said, were on the issue of raising taxes on those with higher incomes.
“Two years ago, Obama and the Democratic House and the Democratic Senate extended all the Bush tax cuts for two years,” he began. “The president did it because he said it would hurt the economy not to.
“Now that he is safely in his job, that doesn’t seem to be keeping him up at night — that other people may lose their jobs because of these tax hikes.”
Still, Norquist said he would advise GOP members of the House to also back the Biden-McConnell agreement while looking ahead to the real battle: spending cuts.
“This is not the end of the game. This is the beginning of the game,” he told CNN. “Take the 84 percent of your winnings off the table — we spent 12 years getting the Democrats to cede those tax cuts to the American people — take them off the table.
“Then we go back and argue about making the tax cuts permanent for everyone, and we engage in a four-year, three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust fight to cut spending every day,” he added.
The GOP’s strongest tool in that effort, Norquist added, is “the debt-ceiling power, and the fact that the White House has to come and ask the House and the Senate for money every month or so because the Senate hasn’t done a budget.
“That’s where we’re going to have the continuing-resolution fight over and over again,” he said. “The spending fight’s going to last four years. This is not easy.”
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