April 17, 2010

Grover Norquist hates taxes, but what he hates even more is having 95% of the country getting tax cuts on a day where he wants to excoriate Democrats for...taxing. In his appearance on ABC News' new political show "Top Line", he couldn't really criticize taxes the way he wanted, so he accused the President of lying about his campaign promise not to raise taxes on the middle class. He had to really reach for examples, pointing to the tobacco tax increase passed 16 days into the Obama administration.

NORQUIST: What he didn't mention were all the tax increases that he passed. I mean, he completely missed all the tax increases in the health care bill. And he misspoke -- said something that was not true about his original promise.

16 days in, his promise not to tax middle-income people was a lie,” Norquist said. “Then he comes back with the health care bill, and we count at least seven -- others that are tougher count as many as 12 or 14 taxes that are directed at people earning less than $250,000. It’s a lie. So he lied about lying, and that's unfortunate.”

I could go on for pages about how cynical it is for the likes of Grover Norquist to point to a tax on cigarettes and call it a tax increase and broken promise, but let's move on to his claims about the health care bill instead.

Here's his idea of "tax increases" in the health care bill (via a blog post on ATR.org):

  • The penalty beginning in 2014 for not having health insurance, a provision originally introduced by conservatives.
  • The excise tax on Cadillac plans, which is on insurers, not individuals.
  • Various taxes and penalties on HSA accounts which aren't really taxes or penalties on lower-income wage earners who do not benefit from HSA accounts and have been penalized deeply from their expansion.
  • An increase in the Medicare tax for single people earning more than $200,000 and married couples earning more than $250,000. I'm not sure how he justifies this as a broken promise, since the promise was always not to raise taxes on the middle class. That increase only applies to earnings in excess of the limit, not all earnings.

The other tax increases aren't increases at all. They're merely an expiration of the George W. Bush Tax Freedom for the Rich Act of 2002, but that doesn't bother Norquist one bit.

It's a fact that 95% of the country paid less in taxes as a percentage of their income. Norquist can't get around that, so he hammers on Democrats for being spenders. Remarkably, ABC's Rick Klein and David Chalian don't bother to clarify Bush's role in jacking up the debt by letting the richest group in this country off the hook for taxes for the past 8 years, for starting 2 expensive wars halfway around the world with no plan to pay for them, or giving away a Medicare drug benefit to seniors without paying for it either.

Yet, for Norquist, the spenders are Democrats. This isn't about taxes, or about spending or about anything closely resembling intellectual honesty. Norquist is the water carrier for the US Chamber of Commerce, the tobacco industry, and the K Street project. He's nothing more than the mouthpiece for these groups, and any others who oppose Democrats.

Yes. Grover Norquist lied about President Obama lying about lying. And that's definitely unfortunate.

John Amato:

Gorver Norquist is one of the major reasons how movement conservatism destroyed our entire political process in America. He was one of the leaders of the College Republicans with jail bird Jack Abramoff and Ralph Reed. He proved to Big Business that he could make money for them if they invested money into politics which would then be targeted at left wing groups that stood for any type of business regulation. Another mantra he lived by was "defunding the left." He, like Karl Rove lives for a one party system.

And when it comes to Big Business and Republicans, he was at the forefront along with Rick Santorum of the odious K Street project when George Bush took over the presidency.

The chief purpose of these gatherings is to discuss jobs--specifically, the top one or two positions at the biggest and most important industry trade associations and corporate offices centered around Washington's K Street, a canyon of nondescript office buildings a few blocks north of the White House that is to influence-peddling what Wall Street is to finance. In the past, those people were about as likely to be Democrats as Republicans, a practice that ensured K Street firms would have clout no matter which party was in power. But beginning with the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994, and accelerating in 2001, when George W. Bush became president, the GOP has made a determined effort to undermine the bipartisan complexion of K Street.

If today's GOP leaders put as much energy into shaping K Street as their predecessors did into selecting judges and executive-branch nominees, it's because lobbying jobs have become the foundation of a powerful new force in Washington politics: a Republican political machine. Like the urban Democratic machines of yore, this one is built upon patronage, contracts, and one-party rule. But unlike legendary Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley, who rewarded party functionaries with jobs in the municipal bureaucracy, the GOP is building its machine outside government, among Washington's thousands of trade associations and corporate offices, their tens of thousands of employees, and the hundreds of millions of dollars in political money at their disposal...read on

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