Grover Norquist worries that Obama is like a bad episode of Seinfeld and might prove unable to learn from his past mistakes pushing us over the fiscal cliff whether we like it or not.
This is what Norquist, chief of Americans for Tax Reform — evangelist for the no-tax pledge that so many Republicans have signed — said in an intimate conversation today during which he laid out some ideas on how to push this debate back in our direction.
In a call with only a few conservative bloggers, Norquist laid out the problems we are facing and then went into some of the specifics, the ins and outs of negotiations, and laid out one idea that could help better inform Americans on just what the heck is going on in this debate.
The first thing of interest the ATR chief said was that we should avoid a grand budget bargain that settles everything at once. Instead, Norquist argued to continue the process of having repeated continuing resolutions. Over the last several years, instead of having a full budget passed by Congress, the House has been making do with short-term budgets called continuing resolutions (CR). These CRs fund the government for months or even weeks instead of a full fiscal year.
For his part, Norquist felt that we’ve gotten far better deals and advanced the spending cut/tax cut ball much further with the CRs than we ever could with a single, year-long budget. He also noted that the GOP had a huge amount of power by having control over the debt ceiling and would be stupid to allow the president to take that from them as he’s proposed doing.
The Republicans have leverage in that they have (power over) the debt ceiling and that’s one of the things we saw the Obama people the other day said, “Why don’t we have an infinite debt ceiling? Why do we not have, allow the Republicans have a leverage point here.” That’s something obviously that the Republican leadership will never give away. It’s the one thing that they can force Obama to the table — they can give him a debt ceiling, here’s a month, here’s two months, here’s six months, here’s something really cool, here’s a year. And the other short leash that they had up on them (the Democrats) two years ago was the continuing resolution. They would give him (Obama) money for a continuing resolution for two weeks that would save four billion dollars in four weeks you’d be saving eight billion dollars which was on track to force him down to a budget level that Republicans had previously argued for.
So, I think that is going to be as big a piece of leverage, continuing resolution extensions, as the debt ceiling. We say we need four billion reduction in spending, or we don’t give you the CR, or here’s the CR with those savings in it. And for Obama to announce I’m shutting the government down over something that small, that becomes more difficult.
Norquist also lightly scolded 2010’s Tea Party freshmen for coming in without enough experience to understand why the CRs were a good deal in the long run. Norquist noted that the Tea Party freshmen couldn’t understand why there was no talk of the “big cuts” but only CR plans with incremental cuts. They needled Boehner and the GOP leadership to go big, but, Norquist feels, that was a mistake.
But, he also felt these same Tea Party Republicans are now seasoned veterans of the debate and now better understand the process, or at least understand the game better.
So, I think it’s actually somewhat better leverage, easier leverage to use regularly than the debt ceiling which the left considers something close to sudden death. So, that’s where we are. We’re working on keeping any tax increase out of this deal, getting the largest amount of spending restraint while recognizing this is not the fight for the next four years. This is “a” fight. A good showing in this fight will help us demand better terms for the next five times we have an argument. So, it’s not unimportant as the first fight but we should never think that if we win it, we’ve won everything, or we get pushed back a little bit, that we’re finished. We have a lot of leverage and a lot of different ways to make Obama’s life unpleasant and to rein in spending and to defend lower taxes.
Norquist next went into a description of ATR’s idea that the fiscal cliff negotiations should be broadcast on CSPAN for everyone to see. He felt that this would help Americans better understand that the GOP really is working hard to avoid falling off the fiscal cliff. He thought such a broadcasting would put a dent in the Old Media establishment’s control of the narrative that says the GOP is only the party of no and that Obama is the only one trying to fix this mess.
When talking to establishment press people they want to say, “well, the president’s being reasonable and Republicans aren’t,” “why do you think that,” “Well, because that’s what Jay Carney said, or that’s what Geithner said.” And, my argument is, look, let’s have CSPAN cameras in the actual negotiations.
Norquist was flabbergasted that there are no talks going on and, worse, there aren’t even any scheduled, but the media doesn’t report this and the American people don’t know this. Regularly scheduled and public meetings, Norquist said, would help us get our message to the public.
It seems to me that if we had meetings with some regularity with Boehner sitting across the table from the President and we could ask the President things like, “So, this budget savings of 800 billion that you have in your budget for not occupying Iraq for the next ten years, why don’t we save more money and not continue the Korean War!”
Norquist also faulted Boehner and the Republicans for a failure to win the PR war. Beohner has sensibly argued for comprehensive tax reform, Norquist said, but by offering “revenue” he fell into the left’s trap of seeming to be accepting of tax hikes on “the rich.”
Beohner, Norquist said, was not arguing for higher taxes but for greater government receipts by closing loopholes and reforming the tax code so that the tax base was made larger. But the left and a compliant media purposefully misreported Boehner’s idea as if Boehner found tax hikes acceptable. Instead of going for tax hikes, Boehner was arguing that we’d get more tax dollars into the coffers by growing the economy and fixing the tax code, not raising taxes.
Today President Obama scoffed at the GOP’s idea that closing loopholes could grow tax receipts.
“It’s very difficult to see how you make up that trillion dollars — if we’re serious about deficit reduction — just by closing loopholes and deductions,” the president said. “You know, the math tends not to work.”
But, this blather from the President proves just how disingenuous he is in this debate. Why? Because here is what he said only a year ago:
What we said was give us $1.2 trillion in additional revenues, which could be accomplished without hiking tax rates. It could simply be accomplished by eliminating loopholes, eliminating some deductions and engaging in a tax reform process that could lower rates generally while broadening the base.
Just last year the President was 100% on the same page as Boehner is right now, yet suddenly today the President says Boehner is wrong.
So, how is the Old Media establishment reporting the fact that Boehner is talking about tax reform and loophole cutting, but not tax hikes? Check out CNN’s headline, “The rich will pay more taxes, Boehner says.”
See what Grover was talking about? Despite facts, the Old Media will side with Obama. This is why he thinks the CSPAN broadcasts of the negotiations will help further the GOP narrative mostly because the GOP is incapable of doing this on its own.
Norquist said that any thought of raising taxes is the wrong solution no matter what and we won on this issue in the debt ceiling debate as well as the many CR debates. We need to make sure that people understand that this is all in Obama’s court, that he is the one pushing us to default, not us.
Norquist also said he didn’t think that Obama wanted to be so stiff necked that his foot dragging would hurt the 20 vulnerable Democrat Senators that will come up for election in two year’s time.
Now he’s got to worry about the Senate getting re-elected and I think that limits what damage he’s really willing to do. I think he’s in much weaker position than his team pretends he is because he cannot afford to push his 20 senators, 20 vulnerable Democratic senators over that fiscal cliff. And Republicans are likely to pick up House seats as well in the off-year election.
This isn’t a bad point. After all, recently The Hill reported that moderate Democrats are “lying low” during this fiscal cliff debate because they are afraid of a backlash in 2014.
But, Obama has repeatedly proven that he doesn’t care much about how his policies affect others, even those in his own party. I noted that he has spent the last four years not learning any lessons from the voters. He didn’t learn anything by going from 70 percent approval ratings to less than 50 percent, he didn’t learn anything when Republican Scott Walker got elected during the fight over Obamacare, and most certainly didn’t learn anything from the Republican wave that came in as a result of the 2010 election. He continued right on as if he had the largest mandate in history and paid no mind at all to the electoral lessons he should have learned.
In reply, Norquist was rueful.
You just outlined exactly why he may push us over the cliff because he’s learned nothing, he thinks he’s been made king, four years ago he thought that we’d put him in charge of everything and he blew it all apart with his stimulus spending and went from 70 percent support down to 50 percent support and it appears like he’s doing it again. And he just might and in that case the only thing that wakes him up is actually going over the cliff. I hope we don’t do that, I’d much rather have him wake up and not steer us into the bridge abutment but it is quite true that he has lived his presidency as a Seinfeld episode where no learning takes place.
Indeed, no learning has taken place. President Obama doesn’t much care to work with anyone. It’s his way or the highway on everything. Period. Despite that the media pretends that Obama is the only one trying to compromise, the truth is that he has never and will never compromise with anyone.
It’s about time to get this truth out to the American people.