Grover Norquist, no big surprise here wants those Bush tax cuts kept in place and wants to see Social Security turned over to Wall Street. What was surprising was his attempt at some history revisionism. When Eliot Spitzer pointed out how unpopular
October 22, 2010

Grover Norquist, no big surprise here wants those Bush tax cuts kept in place and wants to see Social Security turned over to Wall Street. What was surprising was his attempt at some history revisionism. When Eliot Spitzer pointed out how unpopular the idea was when George Bush tried pushing it, Norquist pretended that's not what Bush was wanting to do. I wonder if Norquist had read this yet before he came on Parker and Spitzer's show?

George W. Bush Reveals His Biggest Failure Was Not Privatizing Social Security

Oh well, it's not like anyone ever accused Abramoff buddy Norquist of being honest about anything. Another typical Republican liar trying to make sure the rich keep theirs.

SPITZER: We spoke with Fareed Zakaria about his piece in "Time" magazine, "How to Restore the American Dream." We now have a very different perspective.

Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, thank you for being with us. Grover, a central piece of your proposals is to extend the bush tax cuts in perpetuity, which many people, including the Congressional budget office, says would double the federal deficit to about $11 trillion over the next decade.

So, I'm going to ask you the same question we're asking everybody in our new program here called "Name Your Cuts," how do you balance the budget with that enormous tsunami of red ink facing us? What are the specific cuts you would make? What are you doing specifically on Social Security and Medicare? Because the other things you list here, I agree, about Afghanistan, those numbers are not going to be there available in the next year or two. What are you going to do on Medicare and Social Security?

PARKER: Would you raise the retirement age to 70? GROVER NORQUIST, AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM: Well, I'm actually more in favor of moving all of our entitlement programs from defined benefit plan, which is what we have at present, what General Motors had for their pension setup, to defined contribution, basically to 401(k)s. The state of Utah has just done this. And I'm big on taking a look at something that just happened somewhere. Utah, this last year, just passed a new law, next July 1st all new hires in the state of Utah, state employees and local government employees, will have your pay plus 10 percent into a 401(k). They're not creating any more unfunded liabilities in Utah now into the future.

Every state could do that. The federal government could do that both with their employee, we do that with postal employees, which are a large chunk of government employees and we could do it with Social Security. I'm not necessarily in favor of raising taxes or -- on Social Security and cutting benefits. Both of those make your investment in Social Security as a taxpayer worse, a worse deal. That...

SPITZER: I just want the make sure I understand this.

NORQUIST: Make them defined contribution.

SPITZER: We're drilling down here to get serious answers.

NORQUIST: I just saved you several trillion dollars. Oh, yeah, but what about more.

PARKER: He is giving you facts, Eliot.

NORQUIST: These are real numbers, here.

PARKER: These are real cuts.

SPITZER: Iran and Afghanistan, many people would agree with you that those would be one-time savings for the next couple of years, but...

NORQUIST: Petraeus said we should stay in occupied Afghanistan for a decade. That's a trillion dollars in one speech. That's a lot of money.

SPITZER: But, the 100 billion on discretionary, be a 20 percent cut in everything across the board. I don't think that's viable. What is viable -- and I'm going to agree with you, what you lay out there would eliminate the Social Security system as we know it, so eliminate a huge liability for the federal government.

NORQUIST: It would replace Social Security with something that you control.

SPITZER: It would privatize it.

NORQUIST: Big improvement. We could even do that, make it voluntary. If somebody is really more comfortable with a government program.

SPITZER: You're giving us a meaningful alternative.

PARKER: All right, we've been talking a lot about the American dream here and 47 percent of Americans think it's no longer available to them. To you what's the biggest challenge to the American dream?

NORQUIST: Well, when you look at the explosion of spending in the last four years, that the bailouts, $750 billion, the bailouts of the banks, the bailouts that were shared with other industries, the massive spending implosion and we're only beginning to look at the tip of the spear of what health care's going to cost.

They delayed the implementation of health care which I think was a strategic mistake on the part of the left because we're going to be able to dismantle what they did before it kicks in, but they did it to make it look like it was smaller, because they're looking at, oh, in the next decade it's only 600 billion. In first decade of implementation it's 2.5 trillion and they just pushed it past the window when you're looking at it.

So that explosion scared people. It's the whole Tea Party movement, which I thought I'd never see. I run a taxpayer group and we try and get people concerned about too much government spending. And for all the time I've been involved in politics I'd say they're spending too much. Yes. Well that will lead to tax increases and inflation. Call me when it does. And you couldn't get people excited. You had to wait 1980 until it became inflation and tax increases, '94 tax increases, and then voters cared. For first time in modern American history and maybe ever in American history, overspending as overspending gave you a reaction the last two years.

SPITZER: And here's the interesting (INAUDIBLE). And to your credit, you were putting an agenda on the table. I completely disagree with the notion of privatizing Social Security, because it would have left tens of millions of seniors with no place to go when the stock market crashed last week -- excuse me, last year and would have left them really in desperate, desperate, desperate situations. Having said that, the Tea Party movement and its agenda, if you think that the "Pledge to America" is their definition of an agenda, does none of the things you're talking about in terms of cutting the spending. It is not only vague, but it is somewhat deceptive because it pretends they're dealing merely with things like the National Endowment for the Arts, is going to deal with this chasm of the deficit that we have.

So, how do you think you can get the Tea Party to do something more fundamental which in prior revolutions hasn't happened?

NORQUIST: Over the last three years we took an idea from Governor Rick Perry of Texas, which was they put every check that the government writes online. Starting with what he has for lunch if the taxpayer paid for it, to what he makes, to what his secretary makes, to all expenses and now the whole state's expenditure. We took that to 25 states, not New York, not New Jersey, but 25 states that passed similar laws. And in fact, Utah and Florida have actually passed laws requiring all local governments to be completely transparent, as well. And when you look at that, I talked to one speaker of a house who is a Republican who said, this is a great idea and we are going to do this, shortly after we buy our new furniture. Which tells you exactly what was at stake, that when it's transparent, you don't stay at the Ritz when you go to a hotel. When it's transparent, you buy IKEA not the cool stuff from North Carolina. And the savings that you get -- could you make a list of what you'll save. You know, I'm not sure I could make a list of what they're not going to do, but I do know that they spend more carefully when it's online.

SPITZER: Step one is easy, not raising taxes is easy because you run a deficit.

NORQUIST: Now wait a minute. I put 25 years into that. It wasn't easy at all.

SPITZER: No, but it's politically easy and, in fact, that is what led to these enormous deficits. Taxes have been cut, which is something everybody is for, but spending, as you point out, has gone precipitously up. Your first answer to how we save on the budget was set a commission or...

NORQUIST: No, no, no, no. This is a real live committee.

SPITZER: No, no, no, I understand that, but it was set up another committee in Congress, a Congress that has been noticeably unable to cut spending over the last 40 years.

NORQUIST: Because there was nobody whose job it is to cut spending. This is to create one that would.

SPITZER: Because none of them want to do it. And that's why -- and then when you did mention some of the entitlement programs all you did was say eliminate the fraud, which is something that we need to do, but as a percentage of total spending is going to bring is nowhere near where we need to go. So, your big idea here is essentially, I don't want to put words in your mouth, privatize our Social Security. You agree with that, right? That's what you're doing, you're creating a private alternative.

NORQUIST: I just walked through with you over several trillions of dollars of real cuts that aren't in there, too, by the way.

SPITZER: No, no, they're not, but that's OK.

PARKER: You get credit for actually naming specific cuts. You got to give him that, Eliot.

SPITZER: No. I give you credit for some of the numbers. The privatizing Social Security, which is an idea that has been soundly rejected by the American public for very good reasons.

NORQUIST: Actually no, it's still polls at 58 percent. What people reject is what Bush tried to do in 2005, cut benefits and raise taxes.

SPITZER: President Bush made it the centerpiece of his State of the Union Address, several years back. It was rejected then. And after the cataclysm and the deceptions of Wall Street, fundamental Ponzi scheme perpetrated on the American public the way they invest in the stock market, it will never happen. So I think, I give you credit, it's an idea that intellectually is there, I disagree with it.

NORQUIST: You may have missed this, but Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac brought us this collapse. Those were the two things the Democrats refused to fix.

SPITZER: No, no, I agree with you that they were...


NORQUIST: This was criminal negligence on the part of Barney Frank and Dodd.

SPITZER: They were huge participants, but there were multiple parties involved. I think everybody was...

NORQUIST: No Fannie Mae, no Freddie Mac, we wouldn't have the collapse.

SPITZER: No, that's not quite the case. Fannie and Freddie contributed in a very significant way as did...

NORQUIST: With trillions. You keep -- I give you trillions and you tell me that's not a big enough number.

SPITZER: This was multiple links in the chain. And that's why if you want to say just Fannie and Freddie, you're wrong. If you want to say they're part of it along with the mortgage banks and the brokers and the people who actually were taking out mortgages improperly, then you have the full picture.

NORQUIST: And Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton's laws which forced your bank to lend to people who can't afford to, so that everybody got screwed by the misdirection of capital.

SPITZER: Like I said, multiple parties.


SPITZER: So we agree on that.

PARKER: Grover Norquist, thank you so much. We will be right back.

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