Appearing on the Andrea Tantaros radio show Thursday, Americans for Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist declared that despite conservative misgivings, the fiscal cliff deal is a victory for tax cutting. Norquist and his influential “no tax” pledge have dominated Republican politics, forcing them to hold the line on tax increases for years.
“How is this possibly a victory,” host Andrea Tantaros asked, “going from 36% to 39% for the highest earners…How is this a win? How is this not raising taxes?”
“Well you have to look at where we started and what we could have ended up with,” Norquist answered. Acknowledging that the deal is not everything Republicans could have wanted, he says it did result in most of the Bush tax cuts being made permanent.Norquist also said that President Barack Obama had moved his tax promises and was threatening to raise taxes even more on Americans who earn below his previous threshold of $250,000 per year.
“But Grover, you deal with Republicans and a no-tax pledge,” Tantaros protested. She noted that taxes have gone up after the deal and Republicans voted to let it happen, despite their pledge to vote against tax hikes. “They signed your tax pledge, and they just blew ya up.”
“We were put in a very awkward position,” Norquist answered. “Here’s what we’ve got. Taxes actually technically, formally, legally went up January 1st, $500 billion this next year, and then we cut ‘em back. So people who had made a commitment not to vote for tax increases actually kept that commitment, as irritating as it is.”
“Grover, let me step in here.” co-host Jason Mattera interjected. “There are many conservatives who are irritated because they look to you, they look to [Americans for Tax Reform] as a watchdog on politicians. So taxes went up from 2012 to 2013. They’re not looking to play the semantics game. But they look at you, for that leadership and guidance. And I know you’re famous for in DC saying ‘The Republican Party has a branding issue. Voters don’t know what they’re getting.’” Mattera noted that the Obama White House is now touting the fact that it got the Republicans in both houses of Congress to vote for a tax increase.
Norquist’s answer: The constant threat of the Bush tax cuts expiration, which has hung over the economy for the past ten years, has been removed. “The president had all of the clout over the last two months,” he said, “and now it shifts to the good guys.” Norquist said that in the coming budget fights, which include the sequestration, continuing spending resolution and the debt ceiling, the Republicans have the advantage. Neither Tantaros nor Mattera bought that.
“We folded like cheap suits,” Tantaros said. Norquist again insisted that the fiscal cliff deal took us out of the “world” in which the Bush tax cuts could be allowed to expire, to one in which the Republican-controlled House could block spending increases. Tantaros closed the interview noting that after the debt ceiling fight, “It looks like [the Republicans] are saying that it’s better to fight and abandon your principles, than to fight, and lose.”
The Andrea Tantaros Show with Jason Mattera launched this week and is already airing on nearly 300 stations nationwide. Listen to the full interview on the next page.