Grover Norquist’s name has become synonymous with a conservative litmus test of pledging to oppose tax increases.
The founder and president of the taxpayer advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform, Grover Glenn Norquist
was born Oct. 19, 1956, in Sharon, Pa., and grew up in Weston, Mass. He graduated from Harvard University in 1978 and went on to earn an MBA there in 1981.
Norquist established ATR in 1985 at the request of former President Ronald Reagan. The organization is most widely known for its “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” which, created in 1986, asks all candidates and incumbents “to oppose any and all tax increases.”
Particularly in recent years, the ATR anti-tax pledge has become a maxim for most conservatives, while being viewed with disdain by most liberals.
According to the ATR, more than 1,100 state officials across the country have signed the pledge, including 238 U.S. representatives and 41 senators. After Democrat pickups in both houses in the November election, the number of serving congressional pledgers will be reduced to 219 representatives and 39 senators in 2013.
Varying opinions of Norquist
How Norquist is characterized depends largely on the describer’s worldview.
Grover Norquist is:
“The person who I regard as the most innovative, creative, courageous and entrepreneurial leader of the anti-tax efforts and of conservative grassroots activism in America . . . He has truly made a difference and truly changed American history.” — Newt Gingrich, former Republican Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, 1995 to 1999
“The dark wizard of the Right's anti-tax cult.” — Arianna Huffington, president and editor in chief of the liberal Huffington Post Media Group
In the words of libertarian and Fox News contributor John Stossel: “No one in modern times has fought harder to shrink the state than the founder of the group Americans for Tax Reform.”
Norquist’s titles, varied accomplishments
Norquist currently serves on the board of directors of the National Rifle Association of America (NRA), the American Conservative Union, the Parental Rights Organization, and the Center for the National Interest (formerly The Nixon Center.)
Norquist is also a contributing editor to American Spectator magazine and serves as president of the American Society of Competitiveness.
Norquist has authored three books
“Rock the House: History of the New American Revolution”
“Leave Us Alone: Getting the Government's Hands Off Our Money, Our Guns, Our Lives”
“Debacle: Obama's War on Jobs and Growth and What We Can Do Now to Regain Our Future”
(Debacle’s co-author is John R. Lott Jr.)
Norquist’s prior positions include
Economist and chief speechwriter, U.S. Chamber of Commerce (1983-1984)
Commissioner on the Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce
Commissioner on the National Commission on Restructuring the Internal Revenue Service
Executive director of the National Taxpayers’ Union
Executive director of the College Republicans
Politics and personal life
Norquist served as a campaign staff member on the 1988, 1992 and 1996 Republican national platform committees and played a key role in securing support for former President George W. Bush in his 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns. A consistent proponent of conservative fiscal policy, Norquist was one of the co-authors of the 1994 Contract with America and helped craft Bush's tax cuts.
Norquist has on occasion strayed from some traditional conservative positions, particularly in regards to domestic issues involving the Muslim community and U.S. foreign policy in the Arab world.
In 2010, he actively opposed politicizing the building of a mosque in lower Manhattan near Ground Zero. Norquist, according to the Los Angeles Times, called the issue a “distraction.”
In early 2011, he proposed creating a “center-right coalition” to discuss an early military withdrawal from Afghanistan in order to prevent the spending of billions of dollars by the government. In 1998, in an attempt to build bridges between ethnic and religious minorities in the U.S. and the free-market capitalism community, he cofounded the Islamic Free Market Institute.
A self-defined “boring white bread Methodist” of Swedish descent, Norquist is married to Samah Alrayyes, a Palestinian Muslim with whom he adopted two children.
Recent news on Grover Norquist:
Peter King Joins List of Republicans Rejecting Norquist Anti-Tax Pledge
Norquist Blasts Back after Chambliss Reneges on Pledge
Norquist Resolute as Republicans Start to Abandon Tax Pledge
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