Norquist: Obama 'Hostile and 'Insulting' to GOP on Debt Deal

Tuesday, 04 Dec 2012 06:39 PM

By Jim Meyers and Kathleen Walter

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Low-tax crusader and Republican strategist Grover Norquist tells Newsmax that House Speaker John Boehner’s plan to raise $800 billion in new revenue could be a negotiating tactic designed to show “how out of line” President Obama is.

He also says some Republicans have the “fantasy” that Obama has become more moderate on taxes and spending since his re-election.

And he asserts that Republicans can hold hostage the increase in the debt ceiling that Obama needs if he remains “hostile” and “insulting” to Republicans in his negotiations.

Editor's Note: Use This Single Loophole to Pay Zero Taxes. See Video

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

A petition at ATR.org urges congressmen and senators who have signed the pledge to keep the promise they made and not raise taxes.

 Boehner has put forth a plan to avert impending tax hikes and spending cuts — the “fiscal cliff.” It calls for $800 billion in new revenue through closing tax deductions and loopholes over 10 years, cuts entitlements, and saves $2.2 trillion over the next 10 years. The plan has come under fire from not just the White House but also some conservatives.

In an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV, Norquist was asked if he agrees that the plan to increase revenue is in fact an increase in taxes.

“We don’t know enough about it to be certain but I’m always concerned that when people talk about revenue, even if they mean revenue through economic growth, that it will be interpreted by the White House and the establishment press to mean a concession on tax increases,” he says.

“We know that if you grow at 4 percent a year instead of 2 percent a year for one decade, the federal government gains $5 trillion in higher taxes. That’s not a tax increase. That’s what happens with growth because more people get jobs and have more opportunities. That is exactly the kind of revenue we want the government to have, but often times when people say revenue, they’re really meaning tax increase.”

Story continues below the video.







As for Boehner’s assertion that the plan does not raise tax rates, Norquist observes: “It’s very important that you not raise tax rates. I would prefer that we make sure that any revenue that does come in comes from economic growth and tax reform, not from changing the law either to increase the tax burden through eliminating or weakening deductions and credits or raising rates.

“Right now the two parties, the president and the Republicans in the House, are so far apart that I hesitate to criticize what may well be a negotiating position to demonstrate how out of line the president is. So if you say we do this and the president isn’t even willing to consider that, what you’ve just done is demonstrate how extreme the president is.

“This is exactly what happened two years ago during the debate on the debt ceiling increase where Republicans talked about revenue increases and Obama thought that meant they’d do $1 trillion of tax increases and we ended up with $2.5 trillion of spending cuts, no tax increases at all. So I hesitate to criticize Speaker Boehner in the middle of a negotiating position.”

Editor's Note: Use This Single Loophole to Pay Zero Taxes. See Video

Norquist says not enough details have been revealed to determine whether Boehner’s plan is consistent with the ATR’s pledge not to raise taxes.

“It’s specifically fuzzy on some of these issues, one, in order to be attractive perhaps to the White House, but also to keep the modern Republican Party together. So they haven’t got enough specifics. I hesitate to comment on a plan until it’s written down and been scored and we know for sure because we’ve been sold in the past things like TARP, being told they were one thing and have them just turn out to be different.

“At Americans for Tax Reform, we’ve been advocating that the actual negotiations for any budget deal like this should be visible to C-SPAN cameras so the American people will know exactly what it is. When somebody talks about revenue, do they mean tax increases or do they mean revenue through growth?

“And any final deals should be online for seven days so any American can read, not just lobbyists in Washington, but any American can read it. And in seven days you can decide whether it’s a good plan or not. You can only look at it briefly before it’s completely fleshed out. The chances of getting cheated are too high.”

Some Republicans have said they’re prepared to renege on their pledge to avert the fiscal cliff.

“I would worry except that the White House has been so intransigent that it hasn’t even tempted any Republicans to think about crossing that line,” Norquist says.

“There are a handful of Republicans who said that under certain extreme circumstances they might be seduced into agreeing into a 10 to 1 ratio [of spending cuts to tax increases]. That’s a mistake because you can start with a 10 to 1 ratio in negotiations and it would soon become all taxes and no spending restraint.

“So I hesitate on that but I understand why somebody might think that meant they were being reasonable. However, this administration is talking about more taxes and more spending as their opening bid. So they’re not exactly open to 10 to 1 ratios and this is a fantasy that some Republicans have that some moderate force has taken over Obama’s being since the election.

“This does not worry me. I do not believe that Obama will come up with a reasonable plan that would in fact tempt any Republican to vote for tax increases.”

Norquist was asked, if faced with a choice of either going over the cliff or raising taxes, which should Republicans choose.

“First you need to make the case that we can get there with economic growth and spending restraint, and we need to expose that the president just wants tax increases in order to keep spending more money,” he responds.

“If we have these negotiations in front of C-SPAN cameras, I believe very quickly the American people will correctly understand who’s doing what and who’s being serious and who’s telling the truth in all of this conversation. Once you have that, if Obama wants to go over the cliff, people will understand that it was his fault.

“But it would be a mistake to say let’s go over the cliff unless we had at the same time a plan that says how do we make sure the American people correctly know where to place the blame.”

Norquist states that he is not in favor of raising tax rates on wealthier Americans, as some have surmised.

“The pledge is a commitment not to raise rates on anyone. So we don’t want rate increases on anyone,” he explains.

“If you eliminated some deductions and credits and reduced rates, as we did with Reagan’s 1986 tax reform plan, that made some very real progress but rates came down for everybody. It’s very important to not raise the rates on anyone.”

Norquist says he agrees with commentator Charles Krauthammer’s assertion that Republicans should be prepared to walk away from the negotiating table if Democrats won’t bend.

“If you’re not willing to walk away from the table, you’ve lost the negotiation. So yes, there should always be the option of saying you have not offered anything useful, we’re not going to participate.

“Republicans have the power of denying the president a debt ceiling increase if he misbehaves. So he can only be so hostile and so insulting and so problematic.

“The president thinks, ha ha ha, I will allow us to go over the cliff and there will be this automatic tax increase on everybody and even though he forced us into it, CBS, ABC, and NBC will announce that in point of fact it was the Republicans’ fault, and then everyone will blame the
Republicans. I don’t think that works because the Republicans can turn around and say fix that or you can’t have your debt ceiling increase.”

Norquist reiterates his earlier statement that Obama appears ready to push the nation over the fiscal cliff.

Editor's Note: Use This Single Loophole to Pay Zero Taxes. See Video

“It looks like it. That’s the challenge. The president so overplays his hand, so misunderstands the strength of his position and his mandate that he’s going to make demands that don’t make any sense. The week after he was elected, he said he’d like to have rates increased or deductions reduced as a way to get more revenue. Either was fine. He’d negotiate. Then he didn’t talk to the Republicans about anything for three weeks and at the end of three weeks, he said rates have to go up.

“The point of fact is he changed his mind between just after the election and Thanksgiving and he changed it in a way to almost deliberately set up a conflict because the one thing Republicans said they would not do is raise rates. And the president said the one thing he has to do is raise rates. That sounds like somebody trying to push the country over the fiscal cliff.”

In his exclusive Newsmax interview, Norquist also says:
  • He disagrees with those Republicans who want to get rid of tax deductions to lower the deficit.
  • Obama’s willingness to allow the country to go over the fiscal cliff could lead to a tea party resurrection.
  • Lawmakers who renege on their pledge not to raise taxes could face dire consequences in upcoming elections.

See other Newsmax excerpts of Grover Norquist's interview below:


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