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Norquist: Obama Trying to Push America Over Fiscal Cliff

By Paul Scicchitano   |   Monday, 03 Dec 2012 10:55 PM

Hours after the Obama administration scoffed at a GOP proposal to avert the fiscal cliff, conservative tax activist Grover Norquist charged that the president is “moving the goal post” on the negotiations, possibly in an attempt to push America over the fiscal cliff.

“Something’s going on and it’s not clear because he’s not where he used to be,” insisted Norquist, appearing on CNN's Piers Morgan “Tonight.”

“He’s quadrupled the amount of taxes he demands. He now has to have rates instead of just numbers . . . It appears he’s not trying to come to any agreement. His position is one that the Senate — the Democratic Senate — has rejected in the past.”

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Norquist, who invented the “anti-tax increase” tax pledge embraced by Republicans, said that the president initially acknowledged that he would be open to negotiations on a plan that included both deductions and credits to avert the fiscal cliff as opposed to simply raising tax rates on wealthy Americans.

That was the week following the Nov. 6 election, according to Norquist, who heads Americans for Tax Reform. “Three weeks later — after Thanksgiving — he shows up and all of the sudden there’s a line in the sand on rates that had come out of nowhere. So the president seems to be moving the goal post in a deliberate effort to extract something, to push people over the fiscal cliff.”

But Morgan countered: “Somebody’s got to give here. Now are the Republicans prepared to go over this cliff on the pure point of refusing to allow increased income tax on the richest 2 percent of the country? And if so, why? It’s such a small thing to fall over a cliff over. Isn’t it? Who cares if the super rich pay a little bit more tax? They don’t care. It’s not going to affect their ability to invest.”

Norquist disagreed, challenging the presumption that Obama’s re-election somehow gave him a mandate to raise taxes.

“We just elected a Republican House — 219 members of the House won by bigger margins than Obama won by,” asserted Norquist. “They ran against raising taxes and for the Ryan plan which is actually $6 trillion in spending restraint over the next decade and tax reform rather than tax increases.”

He added that the Republican mandate in the House is clearer than any perceived mandate on the part of the president.
“He didn’t win the power to impose anything he wants,” added Norquist.

Appearing on the same program, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who served in the Clinton White House, insisted that the clearest issue in the recent presidential election was on the question of whether the rich should pay more in taxes.

“Anybody who paid any attention at all knows that the top 2 percent are now taking home a larger share of total income and wealth in this country than they have in over 80 years and are paying the lowest effective tax rate they paid in over half a century,” said Reich. “We also have a looming budget deficit. So you don’t have to really be a rocket scientist to understand that the rich do have to pay more.”

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He pointed to polls that he said indicate that more than 60 percent of Americans support higher tax rates for the wealthy.

Moreover, Reich predicted that Americans will blame Republicans if the country goes over the fiscal cliff.

“Frankly this gives the White House and this gives the Obama administration much more bargaining leverage,” said Reich.

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