When it comes to taxes, Fred Thomson is the "worst" of the Republican presidential candidates, Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, tells Newsmax.
GOP hopefuls Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani have both promised not to raise taxes - Romney even signing an ATR pledge not to raise the marginal tax rate. Thompson, on the other hand, has not signed the pledge and has said high-income Medicare beneficiaries may have to pay more for coverage.
“Thompson didn’t sign the pledge as a senator, and he has no track record of being any good on taxes,” Norquist says. “He won’t say no to tax hikes, and in this town, that means you will say yes to tax increases.
"You can spend the rest of your life raising taxes and you can’t fix the entitlement problem," he says. "We’ve got to say taxes are off the table, and now how do you fix it? With education, we can offer school choice. With social security, it’s personal savings accounts. With Medicare, it’s health savings accounts.”
A lynchpin of the conservative movement, Norquist runs an off-the-record, invitation-only meeting every Wednesday at ATR’s office in Washington. There, roughly 150 representatives of the White House, Republican congressional leadership, and conservative interest groups gather to exchange the latest skinny on politics, strategy, and issues.
Besides the possibility of raising taxes, Thompson has called for indexing Social Security benefits to inflation rather than to wages.
Michael Tanner, director of health and welfare studies at the Cato Institute, has said that pegging Social Security benefits to inflation would preserve the program’s solvency, but could lead to a dramatic cut in benefits.
“It’s about a 25-percent benefit cut by 2040,” Tanner says.
In proposing tax increases to bail out an entitlement program, Thompson is adopting the Democrats’ outmoded solution, Norquist says.
“Thompson is leaving the door open to tax increases in a way that shouts to the Democrats, 'I can be had on taxes,' ” Norquist notes.
A board member of the National Rifle Association, Norquist adds, “Thompson has a troubled history. He is an enemy of the First Amendment on McCain-Feingold. He didn’t think through how damaging this bill would be to conservatives, to the pro-life movement, to the gun movement, to the Republican party.”
Norquist maintains the Democrats wrote the campaign finance bill to “damage” the Republican party.
“McCain pushed it because he was trying to undo the damage he’d done to his own reputation because of his involvement in the savings-and-loan scandal,” Norquist says. “Thompson had no similar excuse.”
The position Thompson took as a senator on tort reform makes him an “opponent of the small business community, and the big business community and entrepreneurs everywhere,” Norquist says. “So the tax issue is front and center. The fact that he refuses to say he won’t raise taxes and in fact all but shouts he wants to walk into a room and raise taxes to fix entitlements means that on taxes, he is the worst Republican running.”
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