A solemn promise or agreement to do or refrain from doing something that is a formally affirmed statement is regarded as an oath or pledge. Every member of Congress takes an oath of office and pledges to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.” It is treasonous then, to also pledge an oath to a domestic enemy of the United States government whose stated purpose is not to “abolish government, but to drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub,” because “our goal is to inflict pain.” It is incredible, but a majority of Republicans have signed a solemn pledge to assist Grover Norquist in his drive to “inflict pain” and drown the government in a bathtub regardless the consequences to the United States or its people.
It is well-known that Republicans abhor raising taxes unless it is on the poor and middle class, and as the Bush tax cuts come up for debate later this year, those who were enticed into signing Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge threaten to prevent any kind of compromise on spending cuts and additional government revenue for a balanced approach to deficit reduction and a reasonable budget solution. Yesterday in a private meeting, 20 members of Congress and 75 staffers, held court in the Ways and Means committee room so Grover Norquist could warn attendees how to handle hypothetical questions from the press who he claimed distort the meaning of the pledge. The pledge has been signed by 95% of Republican Congressional representatives and Willard Romney who all oppose tax increases or closing loopholes to generate additional revenue to pay down the national debt. The pledge boxes in and limits Republicans’ ability to negotiate seriously on the national debt, but it is a fantasy to think for a second that deficit reduction is important to Republicans.
The Republicans’ adherence to Norquist’s pledge have already had profound effects on the economy, and particularly last summer when they refused to take a balanced approach to deficit reduction and it inspired S&P to issue the first credit downgrade in America’s history. S&P were very specific in their reasons for downgrading the stellar credit rating and they particularly cited Republicans‘ intransigence on ending the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy. The nearly catastrophic events sent America precariously close to its first credit default, and demonstrated that Norquist’s intention to drown the government is a serious threat, and it is important to note that although Norquist is the architect of ‘the pledge,’ he would not wield enormous power without his army of anti-tax Republicans. It is stunning that Republicans are so intent on doing obeisance to Norquist that they cannot see the need for the government to bring in revenue, but that is the peril of signing a pledge to a lobbyist who holds no government office and is intent on drowning the government.
There are, though, a small number of Republicans who are questioning the wisdom of pledging to never raise taxes or close loopholes to pay down the debt. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) broke with Norquist’s anti-tax pledge earlier this month and said he supported eliminating tax deductions to get the country on “solid fiscal footing.” He said, “We are so far in debt that if you don’t give up some ideological ground, the country sinks,” but he ignores the simple fact that sinking the country is Norquist’s plan. Another prominent Republican, Florida’s ex-governor Jeb Bush rejected Norquist’s pledge and said that he would “support tax increases in order to reduce the growing deficit.” Norquist lashed out at Bush and said he insulted Willard Romney by abandoning “the pledge,” because Romney’s signing was a commitment to not raise taxes or close loopholes when he gets to Washington, and that the problem is “Obama’s overspending,” even though government spending under President Obama is the lowest it’s been since Richard Nixon was president. Romney specifically rejected the 10-1 deal that cuts $10 for every $1 in tax increases. However, Romney’s tax plan does call for eliminating the Earned Income Credit and college tuition deduction to make room for $10.7 trillion in tax cuts for the wealthy. Romney’s plan affects only middle class families and the working poor.
In California, the only reasonable thing ex-terminator and philandering governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, did was work with the Democratic legislators to raise sales tax 1% for one year and a major share of the state’s debt was assuaged. Over 70% of California residents favored extending the sales tax increase for an additional year, but Republicans blocked a ballot initiative because they pledged allegiance to Norquist.
There are some Republicans who realize that signing, and adhering to, a pledge to a lobbyist limits their options to reduce the nation’s deficit. Pennsylvania Republican Scott Perry said “I just think it’s imprudent to hem yourself in where you can’t make a good agreement that overall supports the things you want to do,” and Massachusetts state senator Richard Tisei said “If there’s a loophole that can be closed that ends up generating additional revenue that can be used specifically to pay down the national debt, I don’t want to be bound by the pledge not to close it.” Still, nearly 1,000 Republicans around the country have signed “the pledge” and it spells more deficit and especially more cuts to programs to pay for Republican tax cuts for the rich.
Norquist’s anti-tax pledge is not because of out-of-control spending as he and Romney claim, or because taxes are prohibitively high. In fact taxes are the lowest they have been in 60 years and as noted above, spending is lower than any president’s administration since Eisenhower. What is astounding is that plans from Romney and economic guru Paul Ryan raise taxes on the poor and middle class while drastically cutting taxes for the top 1% of income earners, and each plan adds trillions to the nation’s debt.
There is no rhyme or reason to Norquist’s pledge except, as Norquist says, “to drag the government into the bathroom and drown it in a bathtub,” and if he can “inflict pain” on the American people in the process, then as John Boehner is wont to say, “so be it.” Willard Romney signed Norquist’s pledge, but he plans to raise taxes on the poor 60%, and eliminate tax deductions for the middle class, so he already plans on breaking his promise to Norquist but it is acceptable because it “inflicts pain” on working Americans to reward his wealthy elitist friends.
Every one of the Republicans who signed on to serve Norquist swore an oath to serve the Constitution, and thus the American people and the United States government. However, Republicans are hell-bent on dismantling the government to make way for private operations, and their only legal means is reducing revenue to bankrupt America which is precisely why they signed Norquist’s anti-tax and decidedly anti-government pledge.