How Grover Norquist Hypnotized The GOP Into Refusing To Raise Taxes

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick had an very informative op-ed piece in the Washington Post this week: At our 25th college reunion in 2003, Grover Norquist — the brain and able spokesman for the radical right — and I, along with other

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Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick had an very informative op-ed piece in the Washington Post this week:

At our 25th college reunion in 2003, Grover Norquist — the brain and able spokesman for the radical right — and I, along with other classmates who had been in public or political life, participated in a lively panel discussion about politics. During his presentation, Norquist explained why he believed that there would be a permanent Republican majority in America.

One person interrupted, as I recall, and said, “C’mon, Grover, surely one day a Democrat will win the White House.”

Norquist immediately replied: “We will make it so that a Democrat cannot govern as a Democrat.”

In a way, Republicans have accomplished that. This spring, in an effort to reduce the deficit, a Democratic president proposed to cut $2 trillion in spending, much of it from domestic programs Democrats have long championed. Last week, Republican leaders withdrew from talks with the vice president on a bipartisan plan to reduce the deficit because, as another part of the solution and like every bipartisan budget deal for decades, the president proposed to raise revenue. Specifically, he proposed to raise $1 in new revenue (through closing loopholes or ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans) for every $2 in spending cuts. In response to that modest proposal, Republican leaders walked out.

It is now clear that the Republican strategy is to drive America to the brink of fiscal ruin and then argue that the only way out is to cut spending for the powerless. Taxes — a dirty word thanks to Norquist’s “no new taxes” gimmick — are made to seem beyond the pale, even as the burden of paying for our society shifts disproportionately to the middle class and working poor. It is the height of fiscal folly. It is also not who we are as a country.

Yet, as Gov. Patrick points out, "The only spending Republicans are willing to discuss cutting is spending that helps the poor and vulnerable — meaning anything that does not touch the interests of large corporations and the very rich."

Oh, you noticed that, too, Governor?

I remember sitting in the Dunster House dining hall at Harvard with Norquist when we were sophomores or juniors in college, while he explained his view of government, or lack thereof. It sounded logical — the notion that we could live independently of each other, making our own decisions in our own self-interest. But then who puts out the fires? Who answers the calls to 911? Who educates poor children? Who helps people with disabilities?

I’d like to think that the most prosperous nation in human history can have both freedom and security. I think we have reached a point where my personal success is not threatened by a program to help our parents retire with dignity. Voters are smart enough to see that taxes are one of the ways we get those things. They are the price we pay for civilization.

This is something I often point out to Ayn Rand devotees: "Ever notice there aren't any children in her books? Or old people, or sick people?" Yes, taxes are the price we pay for civilization. Too bad so many politicians have been hypnotized by the despicable Grover Norquist into thinking otherwise.

About Susie Madrak

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