Americans for Tax Reform

In negotiations over the fiscal cliff and the filibuster, Democrats revert to their natural state: wimpy.

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Grover Norquist was never the reason Republicans resisted raising taxes.

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Grover Norquist, Toady

Listening to the ordinarily silver-tongued Grover Norquist, president of Americans For Tax Reform and high priest of the anti-tax movement, try to spit out some justification for the House GOP's Masada-like stance against extending the payroll tax cut is like listening to Porky Pig sing "Blue Christmas." He'll gloat that the Democrats had to back off their millionaire surtax to pay for the payroll tax cut extension. He'll chide Obama for trying to postpone a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline.

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All Over the Map

On June 21, 2007, Mitt Romney delivered a speech at the annual summer retreat of the American Enterprise Institute in Beaver Creek, Colorado. To coincide with the address, his campaign released a statement explaining the candidate’s vision for fighting the war on terrorism.

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A pretty surprising and important thing happened today: Senate Republicans opposed Grover Norquist en masse. The drama was buried in a minor vote that will go nowhere, but that fact obscures the import of what happened. Norquist runs Americans For Tax Reform, the sponsor of a no-tax pledge signed by virtually all Republicans. Norquist's pledge has held absolute sway over the party for two decades -- Republicans at the national level have opposed on principle any tax hike whatsoever.

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The Saxby Swing

When asked about Paul Ryan’s deficit plan, one senator straightforwardly disapproved: “What he seeks to do is balance the budget over about a ten-year period simply by reducing spending. And you can’t do that.” When asked if some people were going to pay more in taxes, the senator added, “You bet.” Such a response was not unique, but the source of the opinion was surprising: conservative Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia.

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Senator Tom Coburn, the conservative Republican from Oklahoma, is doing something mischievous, clever, and important. Coburn is a key player in bipartisan negotiations to reduce the medium-term deficit. Everybody understands that a deal like this can only happen via some combination of spending reductions and revenue increases. The latter part violates sacred GOP theology, and the high priest of this theology is Grover Norquist. Through Americans for Tax Reform, Norquist has gotten most Republicans to sign a pledge never to increase tax revenues for any reason.

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The latest one to smell weakness and take a whack is Paul Ryan: Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee and a leading GOP voice on fiscal matters, said that while he has not studied in depth the effects of the program — instituted by then-Gov. Mitt Romney (R) — it is having an adverse impact on the Massachusetts healthcare system.  "It's not that dissimilar to ObamaCare.

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Americans for Tax Reform has always been Ground Zero of the Ronald Reagan cult, with ATR President Grover Norquist making it a personal mission to name as many airports, schools, bridges, battleships, and anything else after Reagan as humanly possible. So it is odd to see ATR belittle the Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction plan by noting, "It was bad enough when President Reagan got tricked into a 3-1 spending-tax ratio in 1982." Tricked? As if he were some dopey, senile ex-actor? How has this sinister liberal myth penetrated the temple of the Reagan cult?

It is now conventional wisdom that the Obama administration and congressional Democrats haven’t been able to sell the people on the merits of their economic program. Even so, the results of the most recent Pew Research Center survey are startling. To begin, substantial majorities believe that the policies of the past two years have benefitted the wealthy (57 percent), large corporations (70 percent), and large banks and financial institutions (74 percent).

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