Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Who the heck is Grover Norquist?

Have you noticed that in many news stories involving taxes, the name "Grover Norquist" keeps popping up? I did. And I got to wondering what was all this nonsense about the "Grover Norquist Pledge."

Here's what I found out.

Back in 1985, at President Ronald Reagan's request (that alone tells you this story isn't going to have an happy ending,) a tax advocacy group was formed "Americans for Tax Reform."

Apparently, it had not gone unnoticed that many politicians got into office by swearing on the bible of their dead mother, that if they got elected, they would not raise taxes.

Of course, the reality being, once they arrived on the shores of the Potomac, it rapidly became clear that if to implement a new plan, or improve an existing plan, chances were that taxes would have to be raised or created.

So Grover Norquist contrived the "Taxpayer Protection Pledge" to force politicians to actually sign a pledge, that they would not raise taxes under any circumstances. Have you seen the pledge? Here it is.

I would think a politician would feel just a little embarrassed at signing this "pledge." How sophomoric. I found the Captain Midnight Decoder Ring pledge to be more "impressive." At least it stressed Honesty, Character, and to drink my Ovaltine!

While the premise may be admirable, any sensible person knows, that to sign such a document flies in the face of good old-fashioned common sense.

First of all, we all know that user fees, licenses, and taxes are the only mechanism to raise money to pay for services rendered, from your local constabulary, to the Federal Army, and everything in between.

Any politician, who signs a pledge not to raise taxes, inhibits their ability to adapt or respond to changing circumstances and conditions. Any elected official who signs such a pledge has no business holding public office. Because, they have pledged away the ability to administer to the needs of a responsive government.

Let's take as an example, funding the two money-sucking quagmires; Iraq and Afghanistan. Since many of our politicians have signed the "American's for Tax Payer Reform Pledge," they are in a quandary as to how to continue two undeclared wars, without raising taxes.

Had we taken a logical pathway into Iraq and Afghanistan, we would have had hearings and yadda yadda, and then closed with a discussion of how to FUND the military excursion. But we all know how it went down, and now 10 years - 10 years later, still pumping money into it with absolutely no end in sight.

So now the esteemed politicians have but three choices:

First. If they have run out of money and cannot raise taxes to continue playing Rambo in some god forsaken litter box, then pack up the troops and bring them home. Obviously that isn't an option.

Second. Look around for tax streams that are already in place, and either end those programs and grab their bindle, or, siphon from programs to continue the folly. This forces them to look over "your shoulder" and say things like:

  • "Hey, Senior Citizen, you don't need that much to live on, giime some of your money."
  • "We don't need clean air, shut the EPA down."
  • "We are so far behind the eight ball in education, cut educational spending."
  • "Let private insurance companies run the meds - we need the money!"
Third choice. Apply common sense that dictates you have to "raise taxes" to pay for new or increased spending. What the heck is difficult to understand about that? But, for some reason beyond my comprehension, that "pledge" they signed for some anti-tax group, keeps them from doing what they know in their heart of heart is the correct thing to do, raise taxes. And make corporations pay taxes.

I've read all the gobbledy-gook on the Americans for Tax Reform web site, and I find nothing that states, "If you break this pledge, you will be _______________!" So how does one dude wield so much power?

From the Americans for Tax Reform site, an example of how flexible the "pledge" is:

There are no exceptions to the Pledge. Tax-and-spend politicians often use "emergencies" to justify increasing taxes. In the unfortunate event of a real crisis or natural disaster, legislators should cut spending in other areas instead of aggravating the situation. In the face of natural disasters, governors like Haley Barbour or Jeb Bush have demonstrated such fiscal leadership and have worked through the problems without raising taxes.

I am angry. I don't recall seeing the name "Grover Norquist" on any ballot, state or national that I have fulfilled. Have you?

And while he is certainly entitled to rant and rave about raising taxes - more power to him - he must do so in the same manner any of the rest of us do, through making our feelings known to our elected representatives, through letters, emails, phone calls and the ballot card.

But, he does not have the right to hijack my elected politicians, and hold them hostage to his beliefs. Not my beliefs - his beliefs. He does not have the right to get his own way, by disenfranchising me.

And if one of my elected officials believes he/she should sign the Grover Norquist Pledge, do so BEFORE I am asked for your vote! And make it abundantly clear to everyone that you have signed the pledge! Not get elected and THEN sign the pledge. That is abhorrent beyond belief.

Call to action: If you feel as I do, the first step is to find if any of your elected officials have signed the pledge:
  • If you have no problem with them taking the pledge, you are good to go!
  • On the other hand, if you do not want Grover Norquist representing you, use your vote at the ballot box, to rectify any discrepancies.
Senators and Representatives
State Legislative Signers

1 Comments - Click here:

Unknown said...

Interesting opinion piece on this subject today in the Seattle Times:

As a middle-conservative voter, I'm not immune to the notion of paying taxes if I am confident that my elected officials have done what they can to create a government that tries to live on a sensible budget. Like I do. Like most of America does. Toothless pledges aren't the way to go about fixing the debt issue; honest work to reduce how much we spend on stuff goes a lot farther.

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