Who is Grover Nordquist?

A pledge authored by Grover Nordquist to never raise taxes has tied up the United State Congress. Republican signatories are afraid to violate the pledge for fear of their election consequences.

We have all been reading about the “Fiscal Cliff” that we may, as a nation, fall over as of January 1, 2013.  On that date the Bush-era tax cuts will expire and large reductions in defense spending and other programs will become automatic.  There are other consequences too but these are the chief ones.

On the matter of the extension of tax cuts, Democrats and Republicans are deadlocked over what to do to resolve this scenario so nothing is really happening now, nor likely to happen until after the election.  At that point it will be in the hands of a lame-duck Congress with about six weeks to solve this problem.

In general, Senate Democrats and President Obama want to extend the Bush tax cuts for everyone except those with incomes over $250,000.  They say this will raise some revenue.  House Republicans say that exempting those with incomes over $250,000 amounts to a tax increase for them.  So how to resolve this?

Senator Patty Murray, Democrat from Washington State suggested that this could be resolved by a two-part political sleight of hand to which both parties would agree.  She suggested that Part 1 would be to allow the tax cuts to expire in January as they are scheduled to do.  The effect of letting them expire would be to set tax rates back to what they were in 2003 before the temporary tax cuts were put in place. This would mean higher taxes for all. Part B would immediately follow – that is, the current tax cuts would be reinstated thus decreasing the taxes that were just allowed to be increased.  Why would such a  political maneuver be seriously suggested?  The answer is GroverNordquist.

Mr. Nordquist is the President of the non-profit Americans for Tax Reform.  He is a conservative activist committed to reducing taxes.  To that end he has developed and promoted the Taxpayer Protection Pledge which some 95% of all Republican Senators and Representatives signed by late 2011. 238 House Republicans and 47 Republican Senators have signed this pledge.  It calls for deficit reduction without any increase in taxes. 

Having signed this pledge, there is no way for Republican legislators to agree to any tax increases without going back on their word.  There appears, however, to be some rethinking among some Republicans about whether such a strict line in the sand is a good idea given the current economic conditions. Senator Murray’s proposal, as ridiculous as it is, is really just a way to release Republicans from their Nordquist pledge. 

What is really ridiculous, however, is that a non-elected, not well-known individual has tied the United States Congress in knots to point where no action can be taken without violating some pledge made to him.  Don’t we expect our Senators and Representatives to evaluate events and come to individual decisions?  How did Grover Nordquist get such influence over our representatives?

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William Nuesslein July 21, 2012 at 09:11 AM
"How did Grover Nordquist get such influence over our representatives?" People vote. They want benefits, not taxes. Ah, there's the rub.
Cadeyrn July 21, 2012 at 11:33 AM
There should be serious rethinking among Democrats. Taxes are not the issue ...SPENDING IS THE ISSUE.
CuriousOrange July 21, 2012 at 12:40 PM
The "pledge" has made it impossible for politicians to deal. We need to vote out anyone foolish enough to let a lobbyist run them..
Bob Zahm July 21, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Maybe, but I'd suggest that all of those vested in our current system of "bread and circuses" should be voted out - democrat and republican. Both groups are beholden to their benefactors and special interests. Both are responsible for allowig spending to increase to "meet the needs" of their voters. George Bush - credit card-like spending on multiple wars. Obama - same thing but on "shovel ready" projects, social programs of questionable benefit, etc.
jeff meyer July 21, 2012 at 02:45 PM
If one agrees with "The Pledge" then you have no right to complain about gridlock. Mr. Nordquist is an ideologue. Yet he is intelligent and clever. If elected officials wish to be joined at the hip with him then they will accomplish little. His philosophy is it is my way or nothing. Republicans such as Senator Tom Coburn and George H. W. Bush were right to rebuke Mr. Nordquist. The more influence he holds the more ineffective our government will be. After all, our democracy is based upon compromise. Something that Mr. Nordquist will nothing to do with. Jeff Meyer Tuckahoe, NY
Walden Macnair July 21, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Have you ever tried to start a business? Why not try the Grover method? Figure out how to cut all your expenses but don't factor in any of the income. Fedex could save a fortune if only they'd get rid of those trucks. McDonalds could eliminate french fries and the Post Office could simply stop delivering mail. Bad plan? Yeah! Really bad plan, yet Grover thinks it will work.
Ross Revira July 21, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Any absolute position from a politician tends to take away their ability to function as an elected official. That said with the feckless character most politicians exhibit having them take a pledge regarding taxes tends to lessen their ability to give into the special interest groups that control our government. As much as some bloggers and the author of this article are up in arms regarding Grover Nordquist's influence he is just a counter balance to George Soros from the other side. Lastly I do not think Walden has any idea how to start a business unless there was government money thrown into the pot.
RivertownsMark July 21, 2012 at 06:57 PM
People pay less federal taxes as a percent of their income than they did sixty years ago. The rich pay less than they have in eighty years. Corporations pay less than they have in decades. And yet, we expect our government to do more. The Federal government has not swelled to some unnatural size, either, as a percent of GDP. What Norquist, Club for Growth, the Tea Party and what the Republican Party has become have done is legitimize selfishness and greed. There is no "spending problem". There is no "government out of control" problem. There is no "handout" problem. These are myths put out by corporations, the rich and ideologues to justify policy positons which are impoverishing the rest of us.
RivertownsMark July 21, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Remember that not even fifteen years ago, a Demcratic president balanced the budget and had surpluses that would have wiped out the Federal debt COMPLETELY by now if they had been left in place. Bush cut taxes, created a huge Medicaire benefit, and got us into two wars and we went from a surplus to a deficit in a matter of months. That's why we are where we are. NOT because of "out of control spending". Total myth.
Teleman July 21, 2012 at 07:52 PM
All this nonsense talk about raising taxes and "fair share" is all bull- we have plenty of money going into the Treasury- we have a SPENDING problem, DUH! we can confiscate all of the wealth from the top earners and we would barely put a dent in the deficit- it's all a smokescreen- oh by the way, notice the Democrats haven't put forth a budget AT ALL? hmmmm
Teleman July 21, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Blaming this all on one guy? what a dopey position
jeff meyer July 22, 2012 at 12:20 AM
Excellent points Mark. You can not quarrel with facts. Even though some will try. JM Tuckahoe, NY
Teleman July 22, 2012 at 12:31 AM
The bottom line is THIS democratic president hasn't done anything but make it worse. No Myth
Teleman July 22, 2012 at 12:32 AM
Why no common sense budget then from the Dems Mark? They've had almost 4 years in and never passed a budget.
Aidan July 22, 2012 at 12:41 AM
Let's be clear ... he's got plenty of Democrat counterparts. Muse all you like, he rattles some clout. So does Trumpka and Sharpton and the Hollywood cinerati. (I made that word up.) Rebukes? Obama's been rebuked by Clinton, Booker, and other libs. Both sides have teams ... and each has major players. Norquist is one. Whether his views jive with yours, well, that's another question, of course.
Aidan July 22, 2012 at 01:33 AM
The class warfare rant is a clarion for class envy ... or worse, class dissension. It's a desperate choice made by a man desperate to cloud his record with the most divisive message possible. The aim is to huddle up those who adored being tethered to government ... and then hustle 'em up into some energy. It's a lousy way to run a campaign ... not because it might be ineffective, but because it might set off a serious infection in this society. It has danger in it. I don't think it'll work because the "American Dream" is stronger than a desperate politician. Even those far from rich believe in this fundamental possibility ... given the right moxie. Those with less moxie would look for government apron strings. This is broad, but I think it's accurate. This is gonna be an odd campaign in many ways. Just hope we cure ourselves when it's done. Because we need curing.
newrochellesouth July 22, 2012 at 02:17 AM
You seem to forget that spending begins in the House of Representatives and all of those Clinton Budgets were really the result of the Republican takeover of the both Houses of the Congress, led by "horror of horrors", Newt Gingrich. There is no balanced budget in the the 90's without Republican control of both houses. Clinton deserves credit for going along with Gingrich. (It was called triangulation and if he didn't stain the blue dress in the oval office and then lie about it to a Federal Judge while under oath he would have been considered a much better President.) What is really interesting is that the collapse of the US economy that we are still experiencing began with the Democratic takeover of both Houses of Congress in 2006. The new Congress began in January 2007, by December we were in recession. It must be a coincidence that the recession started right after the Deocratic takeover because I didn't read about it in the New York Times or the Washington Post.
jeff meyer July 22, 2012 at 02:30 AM
"If men were angels, no government would be necessary". -James Madison If Mr. Nordquist gets his wish and shrinks government to the size that you could fit it into a bathtub then God help our nation. To those who agree with his rationale you better be careful you don't get what you wish. Jeff Meyer Tuckahoe, NY
RivertownsMark July 22, 2012 at 02:40 AM
And I'll match your quote Jeff and raise you one: "It's class warfare, my class is winning, but they shouldn't be." - Warren Buffet Aidan, I'm not ranting and neither is the president. Every dollar cut from the taxes of the rich comes out of the budget that covers us all. The entire rhetoric and logic of the Club for Growth (and Norquist)(and, these days, most of the Republican Party) states that Federal taxes are out of control and Romney is pushing for even more radical cuts on taxes on the wealthy. That is class warfare. Those cuts in income come at the expense of benefits for the middle and lower classes. And we are, and remain, the richest country on the planet. The richest 1% have become ludicrously rich - and they truly really don't need to pay less taxes. They're already clearly incentivized to become and stay filthy rich (word is used advisedly) so there is no reason to cut taxes further - none.
RivertownsMark July 22, 2012 at 02:47 AM
Jenga, you don't balance a budget in the middle of recession - period, full stop, end of story. Go to Europe to find out why, or back to the mid-1930's. Clinton balanced the budget in a booming economy. Bush broke ours when the economy was healthier, and then when it went south, there were no reserves on hand to help. And praising Gingrich for the balanced budgets of the end of the Clinton presidency, three years after his "Contract" is specious. It took Clinton's leadership. When Bush had the reins (and a Republican Senate and House) he blew a hole in the budget. Observation: Republicans care about balanced budgets when their president isn't running the show. Quickly: when did a Republican president last balance a budget? (Hint: Nixon).
Ross Revira July 22, 2012 at 12:21 PM
Warren Buffet is presently suing the IRS for refunds because he believes he has overpaid his taxes. I guess your idol has clay feet.
Issy July 22, 2012 at 12:45 PM
Absolutely let slash defense spending
Aidan July 22, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Warren Buffet's no James Madison.
Teleman July 22, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Government waste is a myth, nothing to see here, 2011-$350,000 to support an art exhibition in Italy,$15.3 million for the Alaskan Bridge to nowhere,$765,828 for "pancakes for yuppies" at the Capital,$550,000 to study how rock music contributed to the Soviet collapse,$10 million for a Sesame street remake for Pakistan,$113,000 for a video game preservation center in NY,$120 million in paychecks to dead federal employees, and on and on and on-I like the one where we give China millions in foreign aid ( that we borrow from them)
Bruce Apar July 24, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Yes, let's hit on Warren Buffett because, after all, he has the gall not only to be a brilliant investor who's made billions from his street smarts, but to be humble and sensible about it. Warren's style is more fire wood than Hollywood. Still, say the arbiters of blogdom, "We won't tolerate one of the world's wealthiest individuals acting so normal! It's abnormal!! Who does he think he is?!" He's the Fortune 100 version of Derek Jeter, whom Yankee haters hate because, in addition to being a future Hall of Famer, he's just too damn polite and well adjusted and non-controversial. It's the fate of anybody who's too successful to be cut down to size by those with success envy. Somehow, the super successful who lead balanced lives manage to endure being nitpicked to death by the nit wits.
Aidan July 24, 2012 at 04:50 PM
"Jenga, you don't balance a budget in the middle of recession - period, full stop, end of story." Premise denied.


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