Don’t expect the spirit of bipartisan cooperation that won praise from President Barack Obama to outlive the countless New Year’s resolutions that are about to be made — and broken.
That’s the view of Grover Norquist, the leading conservative activist and president of the anti-tax Americans for Tax Reform organization.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, Norquist credits Republicans with “tremendous victories” during the lame-duck session, including extension of the Bush-era tax cuts and derailing the $1.2 trillion omnibus spending plan.
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But he also concedes: “There were a series of votes where the Democrats had their supermajorities, and they used their lame duck to take some victories home.”
He expects the deal-making to come a screeching halt when the 112th Congress takes office, as bipartisanship will take on a whole new meaning for Democrats, he says.
“Bipartisan means two different things,” he says. “When Democrats have a supermajority in the House and a few supermajority in the Senate, and you have a bipartisan agreement, that’s the Democrats forcing a few Republicans to go along with them...
“Bipartisan next year is going to be a Republican majority in the House, a strong Republican 47 votes in the Senate, forcing Obama and the Democrats to vote for them. So bipartisanship depends on who’s on top,” he says.
Norquist acknowledges that Republicans may see the Senate and the White House quash many of their 2011 initiatives. But he says they should continue to stand firm and not compromise their principles.
“Not every good idea that the Republicans have is going to become law, because Obama has the veto pen. But every time we stake out to the American people where we want to go, what our vision is, and point out that Obama and the Democrats stand in the way of that progress, the better off we are in ultimately abolishing Obamacare,” he says.
Other highlights from Norquist’s interview with Newsmax:
- He predicts redistricting and census reapportionment will add between 10 and 15 GOP seats to Congress in 2012.
- He wants Republicans to have a rough-and-tumble 2012 primary because, “if somebody has a glass jaw, I want to learn about it now in the primaries, not in the general election.” Among the contenders he mentions: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.
- The extension of about $55 billion of unemployment benefits in the tax-cut deal Republicans worked out with the president is an “unfortunate cost,” he says, adding that he hopes Republicans will “claw that back” in January.
- Voters won’t blame Republicans if an Obama veto of a GOP austerity budget leads to a government shutdown. The rise of Fox News and conservative Internet sites such as Newsmax will enable Republicans to take their case directly to the American people. “That wasn’t true in ’94, ’95, ’96,” he says. “So if Obama vetoes a Republican budget, I don’t think that he can convince a majority Americans that the Republicans closed the government down. People will know he did.”
- Norquist does not favor blanket implementation the proposals of the president’s recent Deficit Commission report because he says they would add $1 trillion to $3 trillion in tax hikes over the next decade. The commission was “set up to trick Republicans into supporting tax increases,” he says, also noting that the report may have some good ideas Republicans can use.
- He would favor “bold, radical reform” of the tax code. But Republicans shouldn’t waste too much time trying to pull Democrats into the fold on taxes: “If they want to agree with a pro-growth, constitutional government that the Republicans offer, that’s great. But we should not take any steps toward their vision of oversized, fat government that the American people cannot afford.”
- Federal authorities never should bail out insolvent states, but he favors a law to give states the option to go bankrupt and renegotiate their obligations. “Right now California could drag the whole country down, and people in Texas and Indiana and Maine would be paying taxes for the rest of their lives to bail out government-union workers and their gold-plated pensions in the state of California. That should never happen. Better that California goes bankrupt, than it take down the rest of the country.”
- Regarding the FCC’s recent decision in favor of the Internet regulation scheme called Net Neutrality, he says the midterm defeat of all 95 Democratic House candidates who favored net neutrality amounted to a “national referendum” on the issue. “Giving the government more power over the Internet is a very, very bad idea. And Net Neutrality is just another word for government control of the Internet.”
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