Skip to main content

Grover Norquist
Impending loser. But at what cost?
As Capitol Hill comes nearer and nearer to the faux crisis conventionally known as the "fiscal cliff," the biggest loser in the debate about how to approach this artifical conundrum appears to be Grover Norquist of the anti-tax lobbying group Americans for Tax Reform. Since roughly the Reagan era, Norquist's absolutist pledge to never raise taxes, whether through rate increases or through elimination of deductions, has ruled over Congressional Republicans like an iron fist; those who didn't go along could often find themselves in the position that the recently-defeated Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) found himself in earlier this year: losing a Republican Party primary to an arch-conservative ideologue, despite near-institutional status in Washington.

But as the year-end deadline grows near, Norquist's stranglehold appears to be loosening somewhat. As Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) made clear, this is in no small part owing to the political reality surrounding the situation: If Congress takes no action between now and Dec. 31, 2012, the deficit-exploding Bush tax cuts will automatically expire, as will the payroll tax cut currently enjoyed by American wage-earners. The president, meanwhile, has made it clear that no matter what else happens, extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest is not an option. Furthermore, polling indicates that if no deal is done, the public will blame the Republicans more than President Obama. And even worse for the Republicans: Even if we move on into the new year without a deal, tax cuts can always be applied retroactively, which would make the threat of adverse consequences to the middle class only subject to continued Republican intransigence.

In the context of the facts on the ground, then, fealty to Grover Norquist's tax pledge makes very little sense: unless his devotees truly expect the president to cave on all tax cut extensions, obeying the pledge to never vote for any tax increases will actually lead to more tax increases than simply negotiating with him in good faith. But while no amount of schadenfreude over Norquist's fall from relevance should ever be begrudged, his loss should not automatically be considered a gain for Democrats and progressives.

The truth is, tax cuts are not a hard thing to get passed. An overview history of top marginal tax rates in the United States shows that since the Second World War, rates for the highest income earners have steadily declined over time: the brief exception to this was the increase in top marginal income taxes rates under President Clinton, and even this modest increase did not last long, as it was undone in short order by the Bush tax cuts currently under discussion. If history is any guide, increase in marginal rates for top earners tend to last only as long as the Democratic president who presided over them stays in office.

By far the much harder nut to crack for conservative ideologues has been the social safety net. Movement conservatives have wanted to weaken or eliminate these programs since their creation. Back when Medicare was being created, Ronald Reagan opposed it and went so far as to say that if Medicare were passed, his generation would be telling my generation about a lost time in America when men and women were free. After George W. Bush was re-elected in 2004, he claimed that he had earned "political capital" and intended to spend it, in the form of privatizing social security. That idea went nowhere. In 2012, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan earned Mitt Romney's nod for the second spot on his presidential ticket, in large part because of his big, "bold" idea to voucherize Medicare and turn Medicare into a premium support system for private insurance. Medicare and Social Security are popular programs: Even tea party conservatives want their representatives in Congress to "keep your government hands off my Medicare," whatever that means.

But through his willingness to achieve a so-called "Grand Bargain" on deficit reduction, President Obama has actually shown Republicans a path forward on weakening the social safety net that they could never have accomplished on their own. For a movement conservative looking to get a camel's nose in the tent to undo the New Deal, then, throwing Grover Norquist's tax pledge under the hypothetical bus to accomplish the much more difficult task of cutting earned benefits is by far a better deal than sticking to absolutist principle, watching taxes be increased through hyper-partisan inaction, and not getting a reduction in earned benefit spending at a time when they are closer to achieving that goal than at any time since George W. Bush was talking about his political capital.

The civil war among Republican ranks that will play out in the next month is a dangerous one, and the dividing line is between the Norquist-led hardliners who sincerely expect that they can blackmail the president yet one more time, and the rebels who realize that they can accomplish a long-held strategic goal through what history indicates will be only a temporary concession. Of those two groups, the second is far more dangerous, which is why progressives who want to protect our earned benefits will only be celebrating the break from Norquist at their own peril.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Interesting commentary, thanks. (12+ / 0-)

    I appreciate your cautionary perspective about how Republican concessions now might endanger the social safety net, long-term.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 11:25:15 AM PST

  •  The problem is that they ran off... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RadGal70

    the rebels who realize that they can accomplish a long-held strategic goal through what history indicates will be only a temporary concession.

  •  Taxes will go up. Republicans will support it. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite

    The question is whether they will go up on everyone or just 2% on January 1.

    The GOP is the party of mammon. They mock what Jesus taught.

    by freelunch on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 11:30:52 AM PST

  •  Deficit reduction is the wrong goal (31+ / 0-)

    I agree with everything you said, but would like to point out a framing-problem, one of the things that made the first Obama term so maddening.

    Prosperity for all, meaning good jobs and shared economic growth, should be the goal. The deficit will be a non-problem if 1) we have prosperity broadly shared and 2) the growth of medical care costs is slowed and possibly reduced, which seems to be happening with Obamacare as a start.

    By adopting the stupid frame of "deficit reduction" we are all having the wrong conversation.

    And no, the total debt is not a real problem either, if we have shared growth in national income.

    All of which we have done before and could do again.

    We can safely abandon the doctrine of the eighties, namely that the rich were not working because they had too little money, the poor because they had too much. JK Galbraith, 1991

    by Urban Owl on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 11:33:08 AM PST

    •  x 10000 (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gustogirl, tardis10, offgrid

      If you took the greed out of Wall Street all you’d have left is pavement ~Robert Reich

      by k8dd8d on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 11:39:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  That we haven't gotten this message across (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rube Goldberg, Garrett, offgrid

      and on the lips of every 99-percenter is a huge failure on our part, and one we have to correct. RIGHT NOW.

      •  Because in every other aspect of life (0+ / 0-)

        ....for nearly everyone else, deficits are very bad. It's counter intuitive even if you understand why deficits are not a big deal right now.

        •  Try this frame (6+ / 0-)

          Most people think of having a mortgage as different from having too much debt, separating their current account from their asset balance.

          State and local governments divide things into capital and operating budgets, and balance the operating budget including debt service.

          The federal government has one budget that includes everything.

          So the federal government deficit is not the same animal as a household or a business running a deficit.

          Without getting all technical on government accounting, it is easy to explain to people that the federal government running a deficit in order to invest in our future is NOT a problem. Your mortgage debt is larger than your annual income, not a problem. A business borrowing more than one year's revenue to expand is normal.

          And then we can all argue about whether we are making the right investments, which would be a good debate.

          We can safely abandon the doctrine of the eighties, namely that the rich were not working because they had too little money, the poor because they had too much. JK Galbraith, 1991

          by Urban Owl on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 12:53:48 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm not sure that frame works... (0+ / 0-)

            ...at least, not for me. Since I actually do consider a mortgage as no different from any other debt. But I'm basically anti-home ownership.

            But perhaps you have something there, so thank you.

            •  You're welcome (0+ / 0-)

              And maybe the local government analogy would work better for you. Most people understand that the city borrows to build a school that will be used for 30-50 years so that the people who will benefit from it are sharing the cost, instead of loading all the cost on whoever lives here this year.

              The mortgage analogy works for people who have one, they see that if they had to pay cash, they might never own.

              I like renting, but it sure is bad at tax time!

              We can safely abandon the doctrine of the eighties, namely that the rich were not working because they had too little money, the poor because they had too much. JK Galbraith, 1991

              by Urban Owl on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 04:59:25 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Agreed. But the right manages, and with a good (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          skohayes

          deal of success, to get across the message that if we raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans (who have never been wealthier or enjoyed better tax rates), it will spell  doomsday for all Americans.  I find that message counter intuitive in the extreme, especially since I can see with my own eyes it's a load of crap.

    •  Exactly right. (5+ / 0-)

      The deficit only becomes a problem when no one is willing to buy government debt.  That debt is called treasury bonds.  When folks are scared that a government can't (or won't, as in refusal to raise the debt limit), then interest rises on the bonds in an effort to entice buyers.  Currently treasury bonds are selling at a minuscule interest rate, because they are considered safe investments.  Hense the deficit is NOT a problem.  The only effective way to keep it from becoming a problem eventually is to put many more people back to work at living wages, so that they pay income taxes that fill government coffers, and reduce the deficit.
      Jobs not cuts!

  •  Norquist's influence over the very terms of debate (15+ / 0-)

    remains immense. Over the years, the Democrats have imbibed his government-is-evil philosophy, and that's why they shy away from any really active measures to boost the economy.

    They remain locked into the tired old paradigm of tax cuts as the only means to fix the economy.

    The centerpiece of Obama's plan is a tax cut on middle-class earners. That's what the White House website touts repeatedly and incessantly. He boasts about his plan being a better method of deficit reduction than the Republicans' plan.

    Significantly, although he sent a demand for economic stimulus to the House through Geithner, he's not advocating that his supporters fight for a new stimulus bill. You can find pages on the tax cuts on the White House, but very few on stimulus. Nor has he taken to the hustings to demand new spending for jobs and other national matters; in all his speeches, he emphasizes the tax cut.

    Which tells us exactly where stimulus lies on his list of priorities: near the bottom.

    Norquist-itis is a bipartisan disease. The president and Congressional Democrats are thoroughly infected with it, and are fully under its influence.

    This is a very dangerous time for what's left of the social safety net, with deficit fever running rampant throughout the Beltway. That net could be cut and it could be the Democrats who end up eating the blame for it, thanks to the president and Congressional Democrats.

    "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

    by limpidglass on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 11:40:16 AM PST

    •  AKA Conservatism. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      limpidglass, tardis10, quill, a2nite

      Which is part of the reason I insist we have 2 conservative parties.

      Not identical, but both conservative.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 11:56:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Watching Norquist this a.m. on (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      limpidglass, StrayCat

      Meet the Press, the biggest impression I had was that his bulb wasn't really all that bright.

      I hadn't listened to him much in the past, but I find it rather astounding that he had achieved so much influence.  I know his history with Abramoff and that phony Christian whose name escapes me at the moment, and can't help but think he was riding someone's coat tails.

      Or is it just me?  Is there some brilliance under his rather fumbling performance that I'm just not bright enough to see?

      Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth - Abraham Lincoln

      by Gustogirl on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 12:07:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  He's the trained parrot for a very well funded (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tardis10, Gustogirl

        political attack group.

        -- We are just regular people informed on issues

        by mike101 on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 12:16:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  he's not mediagenic, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gustogirl

        but then he doesn't have to be.

        He's an operative who works behind the scenes, building an anti-tax movement at the behest of his wealthy masters. At that, he's extremely effective.

        I think the reason he's in the headlines now is as a convenient boogeyman and punching bag--to convince the Democratic base that the GOP is on the run and lull them into a sense of false security so that they more easily go along with this Grand Bargain to bring the axe on Social Security and Medicare.

        I can't think of any other reason the media suddenly started talking about him, because they never bothered to cover him before. It was better for the 1% that he remain in the shadows.

        Now that they've brought him into the spotlight, I have to assume that's also for the benefit of the 1%.

        "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

        by limpidglass on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 12:36:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  agree.never thought was very bright.a good parrot (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gustogirl
      •  Ralph Reed (that phony Christian) n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gustogirl

        (-7.62,-7.33) l'Enfer, c'est les autres.

        by argomd on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 01:00:13 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  The "tax cut" is a stimulus package (0+ / 0-)

      I agree with you about the horrible framing coming from the Dems and the President.

      Supply-side economics is dead, and the President needs to say that flat out. Everytime it's been tried, in the 1920's the 1980's and the 2000's, it's created economic disaster. Giving tax cuts to rich people does not create jobs. Consumer demand does.

      They need to let the "Bush tax cuts" completely expire. Good riddance. Let's revert back to the Clinton tax rates.

      Then they need to implement a new "stimulus package" in the form of a temporary payroll and income tax cut for people earning $250k or less.

      Frame it like this: "Putting more money in the pockets of millions of American families will increase consumer spending and therefor demand for products and services. That demand is the real Job Creator and will greatly boost the economy".

      But it has to be made clear that when the economy has recovered, that all tax rates will go back to what they were under Clinton, so that we can once again balance the budget and pay down the national debt.

      Put a three-year sunset on it. If the economy has not sufficiently recovered by then, it can always be extended, but people need to know that if they want to live in a civilized country built for the 21st century, they are going to have to pay for it.

      Personally, I think that we should go back to pre-Reagan tax rates, or even pre-Kennedy rates, but I think that it would be politically wiser to talk about it in terms of the Clinton years, since that was the most recent period of good economic conditions, and one that many more people can remember.

  •  Closing "loopholes" is NOT a concession. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nimbus, pHunbalanced, kpbuick

    They are flaws, not privileges. Everyday middleclass Americans do not know them, use them, or pay lawyers to create them.

    Its like training for a marathon by filling the potholes in the track. That is not training. It is leveling the playing field.

    YES, Republicans, you better close all your dishonest loopholes! Then, lets talk about concessions.

    skipping over damaged area

    by Says Who on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 11:40:18 AM PST

  •  Insightful and clear essay here, Dante. (5+ / 0-)

    Going over the cliff is the best thing. Then Dems can have the upper hand in January and pass a middle class tax cut without worrying about the spending side.

    1,000,000 Strong! TOTAL RECALL!

    by pHunbalanced on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 11:44:38 AM PST

    •  agreed! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The BigotBasher, chuck utzman

      I'm hoping that Obama taking the show on the road is just PR for the expected jump off the fiscal curb. If Dems let everything go the way the law requires, then we'll have the upper hand in January.
      Why even try to stop it?
      Maybe Obama is just doing kabuki politics for now so that in January he can say "I tried, but the GOP was intransigent. Now here we are with a new Congress and all we have to do is lower tax rates on the first $250k of income."

  •  Interesting perspective (0+ / 0-)

    I never thought about the ramifications of the republicans not getting their way like that. President Obama will have to remain strong and not let them bargain away our social programs!

  •  Raising the rates is not the only answer (0+ / 0-)

    This diary perpetuates the myth that the Bush tax cuts are "deficit exploding."  I support rescinding the Bush tax cuts -- all of them, not just the ones for people over $250k. But let's not kid ourselves.  The cuts were only a small reason for the deficit. There's also something called spending.  The president's tax increase proposal doesn't help very much. He proposed raising $1.6 trillion in tax revenue over 10 years. That sounds huge. But that's $160 billion per year (probably less in the early years).  Put that up against a $1 trillion per year deficit and, bleh, what's the use.  Going over the faux "fiscal cliff" will probably be better for the U.S. than any deal that is struck -- raise rates for everyone and implement that automatic cuts.

    •  2 Econ notes (12+ / 0-)

      1. The Bush tax cuts are indeed deficit-exploders, which is why they were passed with an expiration date.

      2. Trying to reduce the deficit now is an austerity move that will result in more unemployment, and probably a higher deficit. Austerity does not work, as Europe has amply demonstrated, when the economy is so far below full employment.

      I could also add that increasing misery for those on the bottom rungs of the ladder is not acceptable, but that is a value judgment, not strictly economics.

      We can safely abandon the doctrine of the eighties, namely that the rich were not working because they had too little money, the poor because they had too much. JK Galbraith, 1991

      by Urban Owl on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 12:05:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well, let's do nothing then. (0+ / 0-)

      This stupid meme of it's "only" $1.6 trillion over ten years sounds completely ridiculous coming from people who have been crying about the deficit for the last 4 years.
      You're ignoring many other proposals he's made to increase revenue, the Bush tax cuts are only one part of his initial offer.

      “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

      by skohayes on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 02:56:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sen. Cornyn makes it about "personalities" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    winsock

    The pledge is not about policy. It's about personalities. Or so he says.

    The most important Texan in Congress, Sen. John Cornyn, refuses to say whether he considers himself bound by the terms of the pledge, though he supports capping deductions that would certainly drive up tax bills for some — an apparent violation.

    “I don’t believe this debate should be about personalities. So I’m not going to discuss that pledge,” said Cornyn, who formally becomes the No. 2 Senate Republican in a few weeks, when asked about it last week. “I’ve got a commitment to 26 million Texans to do my best to address the fiscal issues and the debt that threatens our prosperity and our future. But I don’t think it’s productive to talk about personalities.”

    http://www.dallasnews.com/...

    "...you can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem." Mitt Romney

    by Catte Nappe on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 11:52:20 AM PST

  •  Why was this Muppet on MTP this morning? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fumie, skohayes

    This right wing ideologue was David Gregory's star bullshitter on the odious fraudshow that is "Meet the Press" this morning.  I almost threw up after twenty seconds of pure lies.

    First Grover starts in on how Clinton was willing to reform welfare, but Obama is some bully who refuses to reach out to right wingers or some such crap.

    Gregory, of course, never once mentions that republicans have yet to release any coherent list of cuts or reforms.

    The whole thing was a disgrace.

  •  Weekly Standard editor turns on pledge (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    winsock, Beastly Fool, offgrid

    Christopher Caldwell is a "Senior Editor of the Weekly Standard", a magazine I assume is funded by the same people who fund Norquist. In his Saturday column in the FT he comes out against the pledge. I can't imagine him doing this if it wasn't tolerable to the Standard's paymasters.

    Norquist’s pledge on tax is unworthy

  •  Benefit cuts are permanent. (4+ / 0-)

    Tax raises are temporary.  I've been making this point literally for years now, but Obama's supporters don't want to hear it.  The only thing that has kept the safety net intact has been Republican intransigence on taxes, but that seems to be loosening somewhat with their defeat.  In some ways, Obama winning was worse for the safety net than Obama losing would have been, as the Democrats put up a much better fight when Bush was in the White House attacking the safety net.  The left has to stand more for principle and goals, and less for the person, because Obama represents a potential trojan horse of epic proportions.  

    The 1 percent doesn’t vote against their self-interest. Why should the 99 percent? -- Joan Vennochi

    by Martin Gale on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 12:08:09 PM PST

    •  You can't be serious (0+ / 0-)

      The safety net would have been better off if Romney had won because Democrats fought against Bush harder?
      Holy crap.

      “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

      by skohayes on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 03:02:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Of course I'm serious. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Williston Barrett

        Obama offered up cuts Bush wouldn't have even dared talk about, and we'll almost certainly see some of those cuts in any final deal.  

        Why is the notion that Democrats will accept something that comes from another Democrat such a shock?  Look at it a different way: if a Democratic president had come up with something like Bush's prescription drug plan, would the Republicans have supported it, as they did Bush's?  This is a mirror image to that.  

        The 1 percent doesn’t vote against their self-interest. Why should the 99 percent? -- Joan Vennochi

        by Martin Gale on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 07:32:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Offered up cuts the republicans (0+ / 0-)

          didn't take, because they were accompanied by raising taxes on the wealthy.
          Of course, he did cut almost $800 billion out of Medicare, without touching benefits or raising the age.
          And of course, he could always do nothing about Medicare and Medicaid and simply let both programs go bankrupt, is that what you're looking for?

          “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

          by skohayes on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 03:43:51 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  4 years (0+ / 0-)

    Obama is secure for exactly 4 more years--and that should empower him to do what he considers right--not politically correct.  The "bush" cuts were never good policy--the defense budget is swollen, the economy will not be as seriously affected as the bankers want us to believe.
    "W" was an idiot--but his handlers knew how to exercise executive power.  We need a president, not a compromiser.  We need a leader, not a consensus taker.  

    If not now, when?

    Apres Bush, le deluge.

    by melvynny on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 12:13:02 PM PST

  •  I was wondering about this very thing. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    offgrid
    Even if we move on into the new year without a deal, tax cuts can always be applied retroactively, which would make the threat of adverse consequences to the middle class only subject to continued Republican intransigence.
    This really seems to take the teeth out of this imaginary beast.

    I'm never sure if I've forgotten and left the seat up, or if InvisObama™ is using the loo.

    by The Gryffin on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 12:15:44 PM PST

    •  yeah, it does. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      offgrid

      Wonder why the president hasn't caught on? From the way he talks, seems like he thinks the sky is going to fall if they don't get a deal before the deadline.

      Or maybe he finds it useful for his political goals to pretend that this phony threat is real.

      So, then, the question is, what are his political goals?

      "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

      by limpidglass on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 12:21:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It would be nice if he used his megaphone... (0+ / 0-)

        To explain the ways democrats will protect the interests of middle-class & poor voters if we go over the cliff(retroactively applying new tax cuts, etc.)....

        Sadly it appears the democratic party agrees, broadly, with the gop Deficit Scolds.

        And we're left with this cruel kabuki theatre.
        Shame, really...

      •  It's not just the President, btw... (0+ / 0-)

        The obsession with the President, by supporters and detractors alike, is dangerous.

        I assure you President Obama isn't the only democrat pushing austerity...

      •  He's putting pressure on the Republicans (0+ / 0-)

        to negotiate. So far, they're not. They can't even name the loopholes they want to close to make up for the lost revenue.

        “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

        by skohayes on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 03:05:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  The Republicans made political hay... (0+ / 0-)

        ...out of "urgency."  We got into Iraq because it was "urgent."  Now, the Republicans need to feel the fiery snake of urgency up their asses to get them to act.  If we don't press the nature of "put up or shut up now" we'll have another round of do-nothing Congressional action next year.

        Obama's hitting them hardest as they're licking their wounds... the best time to do it.  That's why it's being pressed so hard.  Maybe the Republicans will be Tea Party Lemmings, but the sooner we press that it's their doing, the sooner their party becomes more defined as intransigent and destructive.

        The scene on November 6, midnight: Barack Obama holds up newspaper reading "Romney defeats Obama" as he heads to give his second term acceptance speech.

        by alkatt on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 10:01:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  It's not just the tax cuts (0+ / 0-)

      There's also the sequester, unemployment insurance, the payroll tax, several specific tax breaks that expire...

  •  Camels' Noses and Eyes of Needles (4+ / 0-)

    For a movement conservative looking to get a camel's nose in the tent to undo the New Deal, then, throwing Grover Norquist's tax pledge under the hypothetical bus to accomplish the much more difficult task of cutting earned benefits is by far a better deal than sticking to absolutist principle, watching taxes be increased through hyper-partisan inaction, and not getting a reduction in earned benefit spending at a time when they are closer to achieving that goal than at any time since George W. Bush was talking about his political capital.

    yksitoista ulotteinen presidentin shakki. / tappaa kaikki natsit "Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) 政治委员, 政委‽ Warning - some snark above ‽

    by annieli on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 12:21:59 PM PST

  •  I think (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z

    Obama has an amazing opportunity here.

    The GOP have backed themselves into a tight corner and Obama has the chance to make them do and say almost whatever he wants.

    This theory is based on my little ol' Aussie naivety that surely no government  or opposition would deliberately make decisions that would harm their country.

  •  A no win conclusion ... when we'll likely win? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skohayes, Matt Z

    Dante concludes:

    The civil war among Republicans comes down to two alternatives: Norquist & Co's "blackmail" of the President either (1) won't work and we'll celebrate, or (2) will work but only over time. And "the second is far more dangerous."

    With respect, phooey! I'll celebrate the diminishing influence of Grover Norquist and his Solemn Pledge Hardliners when it's warranted, thank you. And celebration will be warranted if cuts continue for the middle brackets and payroll taxes and don't for the top brackets. Are taxes easy to cut? Sure, but we've had tax cuts for the wealthy coupled to rates for the rest of us for some time; de-linking them hasn't exactly been a snap.

    Of course, celebrating doesn't mean we give the pledge last rites and figure we've won everything. The demolish-the-safety-nets, starve-the-government crowd will still be with us, chipping away wherever they can gain ground.

    But a cautionary note to avoid going to the other extreme:  There are Democrats - even some of us Progressives - who are realistic enough to realize we do have to attend to our rising deficit. For now, it is luminously clear that measures are required to sustain and grow the economy. Making austerity the top goal certainly will stifle economic growth, but that doesn't mean we can't pare the military budget significantly and take a hard look at domestic programs that could use better management, streamlining and - Yes! - even cost cutting.

    If we're obdurately unwilling to look at what government does and work to do it better and less expensively, we won't deserve to govern.

    2014 IS COMING. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

    by TRPChicago on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 02:13:36 PM PST

  •  Actually, the destruction of safety-net programs (3+ / 0-)

    has always been Norquist's underlying goal.  He gave an interview on NPR where he made it perfectly clear that his enemy is government spending.  So reduction in spending the the form of the death of social programs as we currently know them would make him quite happy, as it is a step toward his stated goal of drowning the government in the bathtub.  Of course, he will not let go of his no-tax-increase fetish.

    -5.13,-5.64; If you gave [Jerry Falwell] an enema, you could bury him in a matchbox. -- Christopher Hitchens

    by gizmo59 on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 03:14:27 PM PST

  •  Great post, but Norquist actually wins... (2+ / 0-)
    But through his willingness to achieve a so-called "Grand Bargain" on deficit reduction, President Obama has actually shown Republicans a path forward on weakening the social safety net that they could never have accomplished on their own.
    Your analysis here is exactly right.

    However, one must note that Norquist does not lose in this scenario. Quite the opposite; he's actually winning.

    Sure, Republicans might stray from his "no tax" pledge. Big deal. Historically, tax cuts have proven much easier to enact than deeply unpopular cuts to the social safety net.

    That is the long-held goal of movement conservatism: to undo the popular New Deal and Great Society programs. And it's also Grover Norquist's primary goal. He is after all the man quoted as saying:

    "I just want to shrink [government] down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."

    So if the White House strikes a "Grand Bargain" that cuts the social safety net, Grover Norquist actually wins.

    •  Norquist is but another type of bully (0+ / 0-)

      He's an old school tyrant, given sanction by too much private money, too much backroom dealing, too much listening to his own echo chamber friends, and like all tyrants, his rantings and threats grow more hollow and shrill as he ages.  He will only grow smaller and smaller to history as events roll by...

    •  Exactly -- we need to pressure Obama not to cut (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Williston Barrett

      the safety net -- shredded as it is -- in some "grand bargain."  As some have commented above, the safety net needs to be expanded and deficit reduction for its own sake is the wrong goal in the first place.

  •  Here we go again- POTUS is our secret enemy meme (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z, alkatt

    I get sick of it.

    •  Yeah... (0+ / 0-)

      And that dumbass link to some memo our bestest friend ever Bob Woodward found back in 2011 when we first lost the House proves Obama is in collusion with the enemy RIGHT NOW AT THIS MINUTE to stab us all in the back.

      The election's over and the "collusion with the enemy" paranoia begins.

      The scene on November 6, midnight: Barack Obama holds up newspaper reading "Romney defeats Obama" as he heads to give his second term acceptance speech.

      by alkatt on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 09:57:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Who's on first? (0+ / 0-)

    (old comedy routine)

    Dante: Yes.

    I mean the fellow's name.

    Dante: Who.

    The guy on first.

    Dante: Who.

    The first baseman.

    Dante: Who.

    The guy playing...

    Dante: Who is on first!

    I'm asking YOU who's on first.

    Dante: That's the man's name.

    That's who's name?

    Dante: Yes.

    Well go ahead and tell me.

    Dante: That's it.

    That's who?

    Dante: Yes.

    ....

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site