Conservative activist Grover Norquist, who pioneered the “anti-tax increase” pledge embraced by Republicans, tells Newsmax.TV that President Obama and his Democrats never really cared a “whiff” about the payroll tax cut extension despite their public consternation leading up to today’s two-month compromise agreement.
“Neither president Obama or Harry Reid and the Democrats in the Senate care one whiff about extending the one-year tax holiday for FICA tax,” Norquist said in an exclusive interview on Thursday.
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Norquist, the Harvard-educated president of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), says that such tactics are divisive. “They were trying to promote class hatred and division based on how much money people earn,” he explained.
“If they can’t have that then they are not interested.”
In announcing the deal on Thursday evening, House Speaker John Boehner, who had pressed for a full-year extension of the tax holiday, called the agreement “another short-term” solution that will create “uncertainty for job creators.”
Boehner also pledged that he will “absolutely” call the House back into session if members do not approve the two-month extension by unanimous consent.
Norquist tells Newsmax.TV that he believes the entire issue was political theater to assist Obama in his re-election bid and to distract Americans from the real issues.
“I think the president of the United States wants to talk about anything other than his over spending and his tax increase plan. I think we should force him to speak about those issues now,” declared Norquist.
Acknowledging that the payroll tax extension takes money away from an already struggling Social Security program, he accused Democrats of attempting to separate benefits from the money paid into the fund by American workers.
“Yes, it is money that was promised to pay Social Security benefits which is why it’s not a stupid idea to cut spending somewhere else so that the Social Security commitments can be made without going further into debt,” he says. “The Democrats have done a lot to separate Social Security benefits from what we pay in.”
While some pundits have sought to portray the payroll tax issue as potentially damaging to Republican hopes of taking back the Senate, Norquist said he remains optimistic that the GOP can make significant gains since a total of 23 Democrats will face re-election compared to only 10 Republicans.
“I think there’s every reason to believe the Republicans can get as many as 10 Senate seats in the next election,” he said. “Clearly, Obama is going to want to try and confuse people prior to the next election.
President Obama cannot run an election with the slogan, “four more years.’ He cannot run with the slogan ‘it’s morning in America.’ He cannot run asking the question, ‘are you better off today than you were four years ago?’”
Norquist says he won’t endorse any of the GOP presidential candidates since they all have made a commitment never to raise taxes with the exception of former Utah governor and ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman.
He had high praise for Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s tax proposal, which includes a 20-percent flat tax and elimination of the so-called death tax and capital gains’ tax.
“He did a very good job with his tax-reform proposal, which is the most radical and exciting of all the plans that has been floated to date,” said Norquist, who acknowledged meeting with Perry in recent days.
Norquist says that some of the other candidates also have “very exciting tax reform proposals.”
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