Tags: norquist | bush | tax | cuts | obamacare | gop | obama

Norquist to Newsmax: Don't Surrender Bush Tax Cuts

Sunday, 11 Nov 2012 08:25 PM

By Jim Meyers and Kathleen Walter

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Low-tax crusader and Republican strategist Grover Norquist tells Newsmax he is confident that the Bush-era tax cuts will be extended for two more years — and warns that failure to do so would be “devastating” to the economy.

Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform, whose Taxpayer Protection Pledge asks candidate to commit themselves in writing to oppose all tax increases.

He says he is confident that signees will still honor the pledge, but he does agree to the elimination of many tax deductions and loopholes.

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And he insists that despite the election victory by President Obama and the Democrats, the goal of the GOP remains to abolish all or part of Obamacare.

Story continues below.



In an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV, Norquist was asked if he thinks Obama and Congress can avert the “fiscal cliff” looming at the end of this year.

“I think you just look back to two years ago. You had a Democratic president, Democratic Senate and a Republican Congress coming in. What did they do? The President huffed and puffed and threatened to blow the whole thing up and demanded higher taxes on people who work on Saturdays and he agreed to extend all the Bush tax cuts for another two years,” he says.

“So now we are two years later and we have a Republican House and a Democratic president and a Democratic Senate and I think they’ll do exactly what they did two years ago – extend the Bush tax cuts out two years.

“It’s hard to see why it’ll end up with a different answer, since all the players sitting around the table are the same and all the chess pieces are exactly where they were two years ago.

“[Obama] did it two years ago, and this time there are 20 Democrats in the Senate up for re-election. They have to worry about surviving in the Senate. They are in red states.

"They were already offered the opportunity by the Republicans to vote this summer for the President’s position – extend the tax cuts for some, but not everyone. The Democrats fled away from that and refused to vote on the President’s position. Why do we think they want to do it now?”

Norquist expresses skepticism over Obama’s promise to reach out to Republicans.

“Obama has gotten to be old and he has grey hair and he has never sat down and civilly talked to people who don’t agree with him in his life,” he says.

“He fell apart when he and Romney had to be on the same stage together and Romney would disagree with him. He is not used to being in the room with people who don’t say ‘Yes sir, I agree with you on everything.’ It’s not easy for him even if he wants to do it.”

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Again addressing the looming fiscal cliff, Norquist tells Newsmax: “There are two parts to that fiscal cliff discussion. One is a $500 billion tax increase in one year if all the tax cuts that presently are scheduled to elapse on January 1 do in fact come to an end. A $500 billion tax increase every year out in the future – that would be devastating.

“Higher taxes are bad for the economy – surprise, surprise.

“The other part is a $100 billion spending reduction from the planned increase. That actually is a good idea. We should have the sequester, we should reduce spending.

“Are there conceivably better ways to structure the spending restraints in the sequester? Sure there are. I would design it differently. But I’d rather have a bad sequester, or an imperfect sequester, than no budget reduction, no budget restraints at all.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner have both come out saying very adamantly that Republicans would not raise tax rates on the American public. Norquist believes Americans can take that to the bank.

“You have most of the Republicans running in the House and Senate committing that they would oppose tax increases,” he observes.

“Their position, that they have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge that Americans for Tax Reform shares with candidates of all parties, simply says to the American people – not to me, not to Americans for Tax Reform, but to the American people — that if you elect me, I will go to Washington and reduce spending and reform government, and not raise your taxes. It’s an important commitment, it’s in writing and I think that the people who made that commitment will honor it.

“The Republican leadership understands that the American people do not want their taxes raised and they understand perfectly well that even the people who think they should raise taxes know it would just be spent rather than used to reduce the deficit. The American people are smarter than the politicians sometimes give them credit for.”

Mitt Romney proposed effectively raising the taxes on high-income earners by closing deductions, and said his plan was revenue-neutral because it lowered rates overall.

Norquist comments: “Romney was rather confusing in the way he described what the rest of the Republican Party has been saying for years. That is, we need to do fundamental tax reform. We need to take the top rates from 35 percent to 25 percent. The European average on taxing businesses is 25 percent. We’re at 35. Why would we be stupider than France?

“We should eliminate a lot of the deductions and credits in order to get rid of political favoritism. All of these tax credits for make-believe wind and solar energy are designed to misdirect capital and investments in America.

“We should bring the tax rates down, but to have a cleaner and more transparent non-discriminatory tax code. The way we raise revenue is to have economic growth. If we grow at four percent a year – Reagan rates, versus two percent a year, Obama rates, French rates — then the difference between growing at four and two percent a year over a decade is $5 trillion in higher revenue for the government. That’s how you get revenue, that’s how you pay down the debt and have more growth.”

Speaker Boehner says he is willing to accept new revenue, which some take to mean he will close loopholes and limit deductions. Asked what loopholes and deductions he would agree to close, Norquist responds: “As a revenue-neutral tax reform package, I don’t think we care one way or the other.

“They can all be reduced, or some, or many or most. The key thing is that we are not raising taxes overall and that we’re focused on making sure that the tax code is pro-growth. A tax code that allows the economy to grow will bring in more money than a tax code with higher rates that hurts the economy.”

Some in the media say the Republicans failed to regain the presidency and the Senate because the GOP put forth too many tea party candidates. Norquist disagrees.

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“Romney was clearly not a tea party candidate,” he says. “We lost several very good candidates in Montana, Indiana, North Dakota – all of them veteran elected officials, not tea party in a sense of being new to politics or insurgent campaigns.

“There were some problems in the election that had nothing to do with the tea party. That candidate that we ran for Congress that did so poorly in Missouri [Todd Akin] defeated two tea party candidates and messed up his own race all by himself. There’s no way you can blame the tea party for that challenge.

“We need to work harder, we need to work smarter, we need our candidates to be better practiced than Akin of Missouri was. We need to be articulate about our positions and not shoot off the top.

“The other thing is, we need to speak to all Americans – that includes immigrant families and immigrant Americans – and make it clear that we are a country of immigrants, we always have been, and we all have funny last names. None of us had great-great grandparents who were born here.

“We need to reach out and win the Hispanic vote, and Indian-American vote, and Asian-American vote, and the immigrant vote, because these are people who chose to come to our country. They understand America better than some people who were born here and never understood it because they went to public schools.

“I’m a big advocate of us embracing the modern immigrant community, and making it clear that we welcome them into this country. They are hard-working, they are working on Saturdays, they work long hours. They are great additions to this country.”

Obamacare is set to go into force in a major way in 2013 and 2014. John Boehner called it recently the law of the land. It comes with many new taxes – in fact, the Supreme Court ruled the whole program is a tax. Is there any way the House can limit or amend the program or are we stuck with it? Norquist was asked.

“What Boehner stated was just fact. It’s the law of the land and we can’t override Obama’s veto. He then clarified, because some people weren’t sure if he was changing his position on Obamacare. No, he wasn’t.

“He did make it clear that the goal of the modern Republican Party and the Republicans in the House is to abolish Obamacare. You just can’t do it tomorrow. I think we’ll do what he was speaking to, and that is – there are pieces of it, that if you put it up to the vote in the House and go to the Senate, we may even get Democrats to agree with us.

“Obama has already signed bills repealing pieces of Obamacare that were so poorly written and so damaging. There are other pieces, I think, we conceded from time to time to get him to do it.

Alert: Do you support Obamacare? Tell us what you think. Click Here

“We are going to have to beat people in 2014 and beat a president in 2016 in order to abolish Obamacare. That is the goal. Our position is we want to abolish Obamacare as quickly as possible. As soon as we have the votes, we are doing it. If we can do a part of it today, all of it tomorrow – go, go, go. We are never not working to abolish Obamacare.

“You would also have to understand, we only have so many hours of the day and Obama is sitting there with a veto. There are certain things you can’t get done until you get a different president.”


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