Low-tax crusader and Republican strategist Grover Norquist tells Newsmax that Congress should not raise the ceiling on federal debt without serious reductions in President Obama’s overspending, which will take the country “right off the cliff.”
Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, asserts that the Democratic leadership “missed the lesson” taught by the growth of the tea party — that Americans want to reduce spending.
And he says the standoff over the debt ceiling will not end in compromise — instead, “somebody’s going to win and somebody’s going to lose.”
Americans for Tax Reform is a coalition of taxpayer groups, individuals, and businesses opposed to higher taxes at the federal, state, and local levels.
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Norquist is also on the board of the American Conservative Union and a regular Newsmax contributor. In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, he was asked if Democrats and Republicans are recklessly playing Russian roulette over the debt ceiling, which could ultimately lead to a shutdown of the government.
“No. It’s a very important decision to make,” Norquist responds.
“President Obama wants the debt ceiling increased so he can continue to spend as he’s been spending over the past two years. The Republicans and [House] Speaker [John] Boehner want to draw down that overspending, and their position is they won’t vote for the debt ceiling increase unless serious spending restraint is imposed.”
As to who is right, Norquist states: “The president is correct that he wants to spend more money. It’s wrong to do so. It’s very bad for the country. Obama has created a lot of unemployment and slow economic growth. This is a lousy recovery, if it is a recovery at all.
“Speaker Boehner is correct on the economics. We need to stop spending so much money. I believe the House of Representatives will support Boehner and insist that serious spending cuts happen before any debt ceiling is increased.
“The Republicans in the House, the Democrats in the Senate, and the White House have a veto, so it’s a standoff. It could be a stalemate. It’s not a question of coming to some compromise. Somebody’s going to win and somebody’s going to lose. The president wants to continue spending. The Republicans want to start the process of turning the ship around and get to less spending.”
Discussing the budget reform plan proposed by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, which includes an overhaul of Medicare, Norquist tells Newsmax: “Paul Ryan’s budget, his road map for the future, dramatically reduces domestic discretionary spending. All the excesses of the Obama years would be squeezed out.
“It takes Medicaid and food stamps and block grants them to the states so the states can do for Medicaid and food stamps what they did for welfare during welfare reform.
“And it saves Medicare, which is going bankrupt under Obama’s mad rush off a cliff, and allows individuals to have more control and decide what kind of insurance they want when they get older.
“So as a taxpayer advocate I am very supportive of Ryan’s entire plan, and very concerned that if we don’t move in that direction we go right off the cliff with Obama’s overspending.”
Norquist says he opposes phasing out tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
“What we need to do is maintain the lower tax rates that the Bush tax cuts put in, and we need to go further than that.
“Paul Ryan and the Republicans in the House have said let’s take the corporate and individual income tax rates to 25 percent, drop them from 35 percent, and have revenue-neutral tax reform. That would be very, very good for the economy.”
Norquist was asked why many politicians in Washington have become disconnected with Americans who want to limit federal spending.
“Several things happened,” he responds.
“Obama was elected back when he believed that there was a constituency for more spending. A lot of those Democrats in the Senate were elected four, six years ago. They believed the country wants to spend more. They missed the tea party.
“The [Republican-controlled] House of Representatives gets the joke. They understand that Americans want less spending. The older people who have been around longer missed that lesson — Obama, Reid, Pelosi.”
Among potential candidates for the GOP nomination for president in 2012, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is clearly the front-runner but “the biggest boat anchor he carries with him is Romneycare in Massachusetts, which didn’t work out well and looks too much like Obamacare,” Norquist says.
“Romney has said he would abolish Obamacare and I tend to agree with that, but it does raise concerns, and that’s why it’s not a coronation, it’s a primary.”
Ron Paul would find it difficult to win the GOP nomination but he is a “very interesting candidate” and “an important voice within the conservative movement and the Republican Party,” Norquist adds.
As to which GOP candidate might gain an endorsement from Norquist and his organization, he says: “The most important question we ask is, will you sign the pledge never to raise taxes? I think many of them will at the end of the day be committed against any tax increase, and at that point Americans for Tax Reform and I will not endorse as long as everybody makes the commitment not to raise taxes.”
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