If you don’t know who Grover Norquist is then you really need to pay more attention to politics. Grover Norquist is the guy who said he wants government so small that he could “drown it in a bathtub”. His absolute #1 focus is cutting taxes. That’s it. That’s his entire raison d’etre. I’m not saying I don’t like this guy; I’m just saying his parents should have named him Dick Norquist. N’est-ce pas?
So let’s break down what Mr. Norquist told Reuters on 10/27/12 …. a few highlights and then detail:
#1 – If Obama wins – Republicans will give him 2 week or 1 month extensions on the debt ceiling
#2 – They’ll extend the debt ceiling to help fix “his problem” as long as he cuts taxes on the rich and promises not to regulate businesses.
#3 – If Romney wins and they have 50 Republican Senators – they’ll pass the Ryan plan and repeal “98% of Obamacare” using reconciliation.
#4 – They will hold the economy and middle class hostage if Obama doesn’t give in to Republican demands.
He says as if talking to Obama …
“Look, you want the higher debt ceiling because you spend so much money because you gave all your money to Solyndra, stimulus spending and all that other nonsense you did. We have to get a debt ceiling because of your spending. So that’s your fault. We will fix your problem temporarily for you with certain costs attached. <uncomfortable moment> Extend the Bush tax cuts. <uncomfortable moment> … first week we ask and then there will be questions as to how much you’re going to regulate. We’re not going to allow you to throw regulatory burdens on the American economy and then let you spend more money … no, no, no, no. Any costly regulations that we don’t agree to – you don’t get your money.”
First of all – Obama’s rate of government spending is lower than any president in nearly 60 years. Politifact rated that as “mostly true” HERE. So – that’s all bullshit. Grover neglects to mention that Obama was given a $1 trillion deficit and an economy that was on its way to 10% unemployment. You can’t fix the deficit until you fix the economy. You get everyone working again and you fix that problem; and 5.2 million private sector jobs since January 2010 shows the economy is on the right path.
Secondly – Notice what Mr. Norquist says here. It’s your fault for the deficit (lie) and we’ll fix “your problem” the deficit problem if you do what we want. The first thing we want you to do to help us fix the deficit … extend the Bush tax cuts. WHAT? The first thing we want you to do to help fix the deficit is increase the deficit by trillions. Obama already wants to extend tax cuts for 98% of Americans; they only disagree about the tax cuts for the wealthiest. That’s the FIRST thing they want. The second thing … stop regulating businesses. Now he doesn’t say who but let me tell you who. Insurance companies, coal companies, Wall Street to name a few. Grover is a mouth piece for wealthy plutocrats and big corporations. So – that’s their deal. But he’s going to lose that deal.
The reporter said “Obama’s not going to agree to that” and he says that he will because he’ll be in a weaker position than he was in 2010. That’s not true no matter how you look at it.
If Republicans lose – they will have no choice but to accept a grand bargain when tax cuts for the rich expire unless Obama signs that bill. And he won’t. I think Obama is willing to go over the “fiscal cliff” in order to get Congress to bend to his will. Republicans will have just lost an election and Obama will have a lot of momentum and support from the American people. And they’re tired of Republicans obstructing; they just want shit fixed. Obama has said he’s willing to cut spending by trillions as long as tax cuts for the rich are included in that in order to ensure a more balanced approach to deficit reduction.
#1 – The Romney option. Grover was challenged about the feasibility of this; the reporter said that’s never going to pass. He said if Romney wins and they have a Republican leaning Senate in addition to a Republican House of Representatives – they will be able to use reconciliation (a Senate rule to require only 50 votes plus the VP) in order to force through legislation. Reconciliation was used to pass the Bush tax cuts like this in 2001 and 2003. Under those rules – whatever passes only lasts for 10 years and would be strictly limited to tax related legislation. Mr. Norquist says the Republicans would force the Ryan plan through which would turn Medicare into a voucher plan and would have significant tax cuts for the rich. The very first Ryan plan actually called for the privatization of Social Security and Republicans voted for it in almost unanimous order. In addition to passing the Ryan plan – he says they would use reconciliation to get rid of “98% of Obamacare”. They really only want to eliminate the 3.8% medicare tax on the rich HERE.
#2 – The Obama option. He says Obama will extend the Bush tax cuts for the rich and middle class for another 2 years just like he did in 2010; Obama has said emphatically that he will not extend them like he did before when he was forced to deal with a very, very fragile economy.
And I don’t believe he will. In 2010 – he had just lost 6 Senate seats, 60+ House seats to the Republicans and he was looking at tax cuts for the middle class, unemployment benefits and a payroll tax cut that needed to get passed to fix the economy. So he used that deal to increase stimulus and pass the START treat as well as repeal DADT. He negotiated a shrew move. And – in doing so – he took a weapon away from the Republican party. Had he not extended them … the economy would have done even worse and the Republicans would have argued it was because of tax increases on the wealthy. And very, very stupid Americans would have believed it not understanding cyclical economies.
He also says that there are 20 “vulnerable Democrats” whose terms expire in 2014. His contention that Obama would extend those tax cuts for two more years on behalf of vulnerable Democrats rings false. There aren’t that many vulnerable Dems in the first place; most are pretty solid.
Well … looking at that list HERE – one might consider Mark Begich (D-AK), Al Franken (D-MN), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Mary Landrieu (D-LA) potentially vulnerable but there isn’t a lot here to be worried about. A recent poll for Al Franken found he would beat former MN Governor Tim Pawlenty by 9 points (source). Mark Begich has an approval rating of 57% (source). Democrats tend to do well in the House and Senate (not the Presidency) and Tim Johnson has a net positive favorability rating of 47 to 41 (source) although anything less than 50% should be reason for concern. Mary Landrieu isn’t really popular but she’s a fighter, knows how to win and her dad was an institution in Louisiana. She has a better than 50% shot of winning; more thoughts on her upcoming race HERE.
On the Republican side – Susan Collins will have to contend with a hard right Republican primary unless the party pushes them out. If she loses her primary – Democrats will win that seat. The rest of the Republican seats are in mostly conservative territory – they just have fewer seats to defend. But … those southern states like OK, TX, GA, AL, and MI are really all they’ve got. And given the recent history of Republican craziness … who knows what lunatic they’ll nominate that will say god awful offensive stuff.
“The other piece to the puzzle is the Republicans will never again give Obama a year and a half worth of debt ceiling. They’ll give him debt ceiling increases … 2 weeks long, 1 month long. The allowance that he’s going to be on is going to be very short. If he gets re-elected and I don’t think he will … he’s going to have a very unhappy presidency and a very short leash and he won’t be able to do anything fun.”
Well – Grover’s very optimistic. For the first time in history – Republicans decided to hold the economy hostage by using threat of allowing the country to default by not increasing the debt ceiling unless Obama gives in to Republican demands. Well – Obama did a decent job fending off Republicans the first time … frankly – he rolled them. When Republicans talk about fixing the deficit – they mean cut Medicare and Social Security and almost everything else that isn’t military. They mean not raising taxes on the rich. Obama wasn’t willing to go along.
So – if Republicans can’t come to an agreement – tax cuts will expire and Republicans will have to decide if they’re going to allow taxes to go up on 98% of Americans when Obama is willing to sign that deal. Military spending cuts will go into affect and Republicans will have to decide if they want to do that. Frankly – if Obama wins – Republicans will bend to his will and he will see taxes go up on the wealthiest one way or another whether they expire or not. And he’s not stupid enough to do 2 week or 1 month deals. He might sign one 1 month extension if they’re close to a deal but he’s not going to let them punk him; he showed that during the deficit deals in 2011 and he’ll show that again in 2013.
But the core issue here – Republicans will try to use the debt ceiling to hold the economy hostage like they did before. If they do – the credit rating will be lowered and it won’t be because of our ability to pay. In 2011 – Standard and Poor’s lowered America’s credit rating to AA because of Republican House unwillingness to raise taxes. They wrote HERE:
“We have changed our assumption on this because the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues.”
The Ryan Plan
Grover says if Romney wins – Democrats will give in to the Ryan plan “because they’ve already agreed to it”. Democrats voted against the Ryan plan in large majorities. Not going to happen. Democrats will win the Senate this cycle. No matter what he says – there will not be reconciliation with a Democratic Senate for the Ryan plan even if Romney wins. But clearly – he really, really wants to see the Ryan plan go in affect even if it means using reconciliation. My response to that is that Democrats should just use the Constitutional option on the Senate and decide not to recognize the filibuster in the future since clearly the Republican party has shown they won’t either.
The Fiscal Cliff
Mr. Norquist is betting that Dems really don’t want to see the fiscal cliff happen and that Republicans can hold out. If neither party can’t agree – taxes go up on everyone on January 1st, 2013. If neither party can agree – huge spending cuts go into affect on hospitals and defense contractors on January 1st, 2013. That would put the country immediately into a recession but Republicans really, really don’t want to see this happen. Dems don’t have to do anything and the cuts to military happen that they want to see happen anyway. Tax increases on the rich go into affect no matter what and then all Democrats have to do is to propose a tax cut for the middle class only. Then it’s a game of chicken. Whoever wins the presidency – wins the game of chicken. Bank on it.
He was asked about the recent “deficit manifesto” signed by 80 CEO’s of the largest corporations in America including Boeing, AT&T, Cisco, GE, Goldman Sachs etc. You can see the full list of those companies HERE. Grover claimed the CEO’s did not call for tax increases specifically and that he himself could have signed this. In fact – he’s right. These 80 CEOs called for tax reform that “broadens the base, lowers rates, raises revenues and reduces the deficit.” In other words – lower rates on the rich and increase rates on the 47% of Americans who do not pay taxes. That’s what “broaden the base” means. And that’s what they mean by raising revenues. What they are calling for could be found right out of Mitt Romney’s tax plan. A vision but no details and it doesn’t work unless you want to actually cut taxes for the rich. That’s why Grover likes it.
In addition to those tax cuts for the rich – they want to start screwing with Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. They use words like “reform” and “strengthen” but here’s what that means … cut and privatize. Mark my words. Grover’s for it.
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