Norquist: GOP Must Insist on 'Dollar-for-Dollar' Spending Cuts

Thursday, 03 Jan 2013 08:27 PM

By Todd Beamon and John Bachman

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Grover Norquist declared in an exclusive Newsmax TV interview that President Barack Obama will not get to increase the nation’s debt ceiling unless Republicans “get a dollar-for-dollar reduction in real spending.”

“That’s the leverage,” Norquist, the influential founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, tells Newsmax. “The president needs something. He’s running up debt. He needs a debt-ceiling increase.”

Story continues below.



As discussions to raise the nation’s $16.4 trillion debt ceiling near, House Speaker John Boehner has said he would not negotiate with President Obama.

Still, “The Boehner Rule” — which ties a rise in the debt threshold to an equal amount in spending reductions — will underscore the tenor of the discussions, Norquist said.

“Two years ago, he said the same thing in a debt-ceiling fight, and we got $2.5 trillion in spending cuts out of him,” he said, referring to the 2011 deal in which Obama agreed to spending reductions over 10 years. “If he wants to raise the debt ceiling, he’s got to cut spending. ‘The Boehner Rule’ has made it very clear that that’s the only way it’s going to happen — and he didn’t like it two years ago, and he whined and moaned and complained, and eventually, he had to deal with that fact.”

Urgent: Do You Agree with Boehner and Obama's Tax Compromise? Vote Now.

Reflecting on the deal to avert the fiscal cliff that Congress approved this week, Norquist characterized it as “progress.”

“Unfortunately, what happened was that Congress scheduled a $500 billion tax increase if nothing happened. The Bush tax cuts and the alternative minimum tax lapsed — so if nobody acted, then there’s going to be a $5 trillion tax increase over the next decade.

“Instead, Congress voted to take about 85 percent of those tax dollars away from the government, leave them with voters. It’s a disappointment that some of the Bush tax cuts disappeared for some people. I wish we could have protected everybody. It was progress that we turned the temporary Bush tax cuts into permanent tax cuts.

“These tax cuts were made temporary — and they were going to lapse, and getting them made permanent is a huge, huge victory,” Norquist said. “We need to make them permanent for everybody. We made them permanent for 99 percent of the people. Now, we’ve got to move forward.

“This was not the end of the fight. There is going to be several years — many years of fighting — for less spending and lower taxes. Obama had the upper hand in this fight, because you needed the House, the Senate and the presidency to agree to continue tax cuts.

“In the future, you cannot raise taxes unless you have the House, the Senate and the presidency. That is a big change.”

And, even better, Norquist said, the fiscal cliff deal — negotiated by Vice President Joseph Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky — had emboldened his organization’s “Taxpayer Protection Pledge.”

Since it was introduced in 1986, more than 1,100 state and national GOP office holders have pledged not to raise taxes. In the last session of Congress, 236 representatives and 41 senators signed the pledge. A number of freshman House members in the 113th Congress, sworn in on Thursday, also signed the document.

“The recent fiscal debate makes the pledge a lot more powerful, because one of the problems we had was that if nothing happened, taxes went up,” Norquist said. “Well, that’s a little hard to explain to constituents back at home: That you could vote and be as tough as you wanted and still lose because there was an automatic tax increase.

“From now on, the only way to raise taxes is to get the House of Representatives to agree to it — and since almost every Republican has taken the pledge never to raise taxes, that isn’t happening.

Norquist then reiterated ATF’s mantra: “Never put tax increases on the table under any circumstances. That is always a mistake. Focus on spending cuts. Never, ever, ever raise taxes. Only when you have made it clear that taxes are never going up do you ever have the possibility of reforming government. Politicians raise taxes as the alternative to reforming government.

“If you put tax increases on the table, it pushes spending cuts off the table,” he continued. “It’s like dropping a piranha into your goldfish bowl. The goldfish disappear. You can never have tax increases at the table or reform never happens.”

And the strategy of pursing deep budget cuts will especially be effective as Capitol Hill looks to prevent the Draconian cuts under sequestration from taking effect in March. The issue was broken out in the Biden-McConnell talks.

“The next fight we have is two months from now – set your watch, mark it on your calendar – sequestration hits,” Norquist said. “But here’s the good news: Last week, if nothing happened, taxes went up; this time, if nothing happens, spending goes down. It takes the House, the Senate and the president to do something other than have the sequestration spending cuts take place.

“I’m excited. I have no objection to replacing sequestration with spending cuts of the same size and permanence.”

But congressional Republicans must “focus their energy and their anger and their activism on cutting spending and taking away from Obama all of that ridiculous debt and spending that he’s been larding up the government with,” Norquist said.

Urgent: Do You Agree with Boehner and Obama's Tax Compromise? Vote Now.

On House Speaker Boehner, who was re-elected on Thursday to another two-year term, Norquist expressed much confidence in the Ohio Republican.

“He’s going to make it very clear that he’s not going to allow spending to go up — and that he, as the author of ‘The Boehner Rule’ on demanding spending cuts for every dollar of debt-ceiling increase — that was one of the most successful strategies he had.

“He held every single Republican to vote against the stimulus package, even though they could’ve gotten goodies if they’d gone in on that,” Norquist said, referring to the 2009 effort and President Obama’s first budget proposal. “He held every Republican against the healthcare spending bill. He’s done a good job of holding people against spending increases and for stopping tax hikes.”




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