President Obama won a second term and Republicans got beat up. That is pretty much what the 2012 election results said. Voters also sent a message to Grover Norquist: His pledge to never raise taxes is antiquated drivel.
For more than 26 years, the Norquist pledge has held the US economy hostage. With no ability to raise revenue, the federal deficit has risen. And the person strangling it, a conservative lobbyist, has never even run for national office.
Norquist has been funding GOP campaigns for decades through his advocacy group, Americans for Tax Reform. In exchange for his support, candidates sign the Norquist pledge, which forbids them from bringing a dime of extra revenue into federal coffers. Of course the greatest beneficiary of this pledge is Norquist himself, along with other millionaires and billionaires.
What went wrong for Norquist was overreach in his protect-the-rich scheme. The deep recession that followed the Wall Street mortgage-greed debacle caused the entire US financial system to go into a meltdown. The working-class Americans on the losing end of the bailout deal got tired of being suckers for CEOs, so they voted mostly for Democrats in 2012.
Not surprisingly, the name “Grover Norquist” did not appear on any ballot. However, if Norquist had run on his own pledge to protect tax breaks for millionaires, he would surely have lost.
Americans are catching on. Tax breaks for millionaires really don’t create jobs.
Norquist has used the threat of backing primary challengers to lawmakers who dare to break their vow to his pledge. But that didn’t work in the 2012 elections. In Indiana, Richard Mourdock beat long-time GOP senator Richard Lugar in a primary challenge, only to go on to lose badly to Democrat Joe Donnelly. A similar scenario played out in Missouri with Todd (“legitimate rape”) Akin, and Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, went on to win re-election handily.
With his weapon to challenge disobedient incumbents losing its power, Norquist is fast becoming irrelevant.
In defense of his fading control over the Republican Congress, Norquist hit the Sunday talk show circuit. “No Republican has voted for a tax increase,” Norquist said on CNN’s “Starting Point.” “We’ve got some people discussing impure thoughts on national television.”
The “impure thoughts” Norquist referred to are coming from Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and others, who see the wrath of voters in 2014 coming their way if they push the country off the “fiscal cliff” because Norquist wants them to protect tax breaks for millionaires.
According to Politico, Norquist said, “They all said that two years ago when we were arguing over the debt ceiling limit … and during the debt ceiling, we cut spending, we didn’t raise taxes. So other Republicans didn’t listen to Peter King or these others.”
Norquist is putting up a courageous fight, but on some level he must know that the era of the party of “no” to any and all revenue increases must come to an end. The reality is, people making $8 an hour simply can’t payoff $14 trillion in debt all by themselves.