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January 23, 2012

Grover Norquist is a dick


Grover - the Puppeteer

Grover Norquist  labels himself a tax crusader.  In my view, that is akin to labeling Joseph McCarthy is a truth crusader. One of Grover's most notable quote is:

"I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."   

Nice. Who is this prick? Let's discover together...

First things first - sadly, I'm not allowed rights to Grover's picture without paying a royalty fee and there is no way in hell I'm sending that bastard a nickel. So, I hired a courtroom artist to achieve a visual approximation. He did a remarkable job.

I want to drown you! Second - we may need a nick name for the dude as (1) I am sure I will get tired of typing Grover Norquist over and over again and, more importantly - (2) I don't want anyone to confuse him with that nice Muppet character. On Sesame Street, Grover is a furry little monster. Conversely, Grover Norquist is a little monster with fury. The former is a puppet and the latter a puppeteer (eerie).

I think this is getting too complicated. Okay - as long as we all agree not to confuse the monster on the right with the monster on the left - I'll stick with Grover.

So - who is this dude and why my apparent uncontrolled hatred??

Grover is mostly known as a conservative lobbyist (wait a minute - he is mostly known is the a total prick - let me restart). Grover Norquist is mostly known as a total prick who also happens to be a conservative lobbyist (I disclose my hatred already so, I feel these insults are not just gratuitous in nature).

Grover was born into money as his Pop was the Vice President of the Polaroid Corporation (picture that) and  has had a pretty impressive academic record - a BA and MBA from Harvard University - good job. He has been politically active all of his life with many notable achievements. In 1985 he founded the Americans for Tax Reform and was a co-author on Newt  "Your a Mean One" Mr. Gingrich's Contract with America in
1994. He has been on a staff member on numerous Republican Platform committees and has been an effective lobbyist (he was even closely associated with Jack Abramoff - and that guy is pretty famous).

However, Grover's greatest claim to fame is the creation of the infamous Tax PledgeThis is the pledge he gets nearly all Republican candidates to sign. Here it is:

I (insert name) will: 
  • Oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rate for individuals and/or businesses; and,
  • Oppose any and new reduction or elimination of deductions and credits unless matched dollar for dollar by reducing tax rates.
He has been extremely successful in getting Republicans of all stripes to sign this pledge by;
  • Contributing to and supporting the campaigns of those who sign the pledge.
  • Contributing to efforts to defeat/remove Republicans who don't sign the pledge.
He has been able to get the vast majority of sitting Republican Senators and Representatives to sign the pledge as well as all but one of the current GOP presidential candidates. If you want to see more on how successful his tactics have been - the 60 minutes interview with Grover is a good start and it can be seen here:
Sooooo - does the pledge work. The answer is a resounding no and it can be demonstrated through a single presidency - that of George W. Bush.  Just after announcing his candidacy for president, Georgie announced 
he would in sign Grover's Tax Pledge. Here is a rarely seen photo of Grover, George and Vice Presidential candidate Dick Cheney at the Pledge signing ceremony,

That put him on par with all of the other candidates that were running for the GOP nomination that year.

Not only did George honor the pledge, he did one better by passing huge tax cuts (commonly referred to as the Bush Tax Cuts) and did this at a time when we were waging wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan. How did it all work out? Not well is the short answer.
When Bush took office the national debt was $5.8 trillion - but the annual budget deficit was zero (we actually had an annual budget surplus. Keeping in mind that the national debt is merely the accumulation of budget deficits, had Bush merely had a balanced budget during his term in office, out national debt would have stayed the same.

Instead, by the time Bush left office the national debt had nearly doubled to $10.6 trillion - almost a $5 trillion increase and the annual budget deficit was $400 billion when he left. The math isn't really all that complicated.
  • The Bush tax cuts, over his term, cost us $1.8 trillion in tax revenue.
  • The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cost $1.5 trillion
  • Other spending - such as the huge Medicare expansion cost us $1.5 trillion. 
And that is how you double our national debt.

Overall, President Bush increased federal government spending by more then his 6 predecessors - COMBINED. As just one simple point of comparison - Bill Clinton increased federal spending by 11% over his eight years in office. Georgie increased it by 104% over his two terms.

But guess what - Georgie kept his tax pledge to Grover Norquist.

See, the problem with the pledge is that it is disingenuous and I am pretty sure that mealy mouth prick Grover Norquist knows that.

I (insert name) will:
  • Oppose any and all efforts to increase federal spending. 
  • Oppose any and all efforts to increase budgetary deficits.. 
  • Oppose any and all new taxes to allow for increased spending unless there is a true national emergency (e.g.., we are fighting two fucking wars at the same time, a God damn hurricane wipes out a major city, etc.) 
Admittedly, the last clause still needs some work - but you get the point.

See, under the tax pledge as currently constructed -  Bush, as well as who ever will become the next Republican president gets to spend all they want on things that they want. That keeps them in good favor with American voters. At the same time, they don't have to go through the nasty business of figuring out a way to pay for those things - that also keeps them in good favor with American voters. The tax pledge without a spending component is kind of like telling your child that their allowance is cut off - but - they can still buy anything they want.

Now Grover does take credit for the latest round of debt ceiling debacles as evidence that the tax pledge works. He got to hold the country's credit worthiness hostage as he had all his fellas signed on to the no taxes pledge and therefore Obama and his folks had to address spending cuts. The problem is that it is a false paradigm. Spending reductions are not being forced on the White House because of the tax pledge, they are being forced because Obama is s Democrat. The fact of the matter is that the debt ceiling was raised 17 times under Ronald Reagan and seven times under George Bush -all with out much fanfare. So, basically, the debt ceiling provides no incentive in times where their is a Republican in office and the tax pledge does nothing about preventing them from spending like drunken sailors on shore leave.

Even is a left wing lunatic I am for balanced budgets and believe that we need to do some rather draconian things to address the national debt issues. But after the Bush financial debacle, even a lunatic can see that the Tax Pledge does not work (I guess we could call it a lemon pledge). Worse, I think that Grover is a smart enough guy to know that. Given that, I can only assume he is a total dick wad for continuing to pursue this tragedy. The problem is that he is a dick wad with power. He is that typical guy you knew somewhere along your life (high school, college, first bad boss, etc) that, despite the fact having a functioning brain, was just a total dick and became a little more dickish with each ounce of power he accumulated. The real world examples I can think of are Joe McCarthy and J.Edgar Hoover - but to me the penultimate Grover Norquist is Doug Neidermeyer from the movie Animal House. Now don't you hate him?

I know I may be over the top with the level of disdain I have posted here - but with Grover's power he can create such a financial calamity that one day either us or our children will have to pay for what we are not paying for now all while Grover and his pals line their pockets.

What is most infuriating though is that small minded man that no one has ever elected has the power to control - even undermine the rational thinking of politicians we elect to office.

I think we have had plenty of brilliant, dedicated and genuine Republican presidents. I don't think we have ever had a good one that has been a puppet - and sadly, that looks like what we are in store for in the near future.