A warning describes an imminent hazard that will result in negative consequences if not properly heeded, or they can be used to advise people against some kind of unsafe conditions. A threat usually includes a warning to elicit a negative response to influence a certain behavior favorable to the person issuing the threat. Politicians often use threats of impending danger to frighten voters into supporting their agenda, and it has been part and parcel of Republican political strategy for over ten years. On Sunday, anti-government crusader Grover Norquist issued a warning, and a threat, that because President Obama won re-election, the Affordable Care Act is going to implemented and America’s only salvation is reverting to the Reagan-era tax rates to erase the economic recovery under the Obama Administration.
Norquist repeated a conservative lie that since President Obama has been in office, “We got four bad years of higher taxes” that are stifling the economy, and that “instead of higher taxes, we need economic growth.” For nearly four years, Republicans and their teabagger acolytes have complained they were “taxed enough already” despite the President reduced taxes to their lowest levels in nearly 60 years to jumpstart economic recovery and help struggling families survive the Republican economic devastation still plaguing the nation. Where Norquist seriously lied was his contention that what will save the economy and spur unprecedented growth is returning the nation to Reagan-era taxation levels that would promote growth and pay down the debt racked up over the past four years.
The problem with Norquist’s assertion is that under the Reagan administration, tax rates were higher than under President Obama, and he proposes keeping them lower for 98% of Americans as part of the fiscal cliff negotiations and to continue growing the economy. It is curious that Norquist cites Reagan’s tax policy, because although he initially cut taxes within three months of taking office, within weeks he asked Congress to close loopholes that resulted in the largest tax increase in four decades to cover revenue shortfalls, and over the course of the next eight years, he raised taxes 9 times. The simple truth Norquist, and most Republicans, will never admit is that under President Obama, taxes are substantially lower than under Reagan.
Norquist’s threat, and warning, was that if the President’s signature healthcare reform is implemented, and he follows through with his resolve to raise taxes on 2% of the wealthiest Americans as part of fiscal cliff negotiations, “Tea Party 2 will dwarf Tea Party 1.” According to Norquist, after four years of regulation and tax hikes, implementation of the Affordable Care Act in 2013-2014 and additional tax increases will “push us off the cliff,” and incite angry teabaggers to come roaring back to life. The healthcare reform law’s regulations Norquist objects to are disallowing insurance companies from imposing lifetime caps on coverage, ending pre-existing conditions, and forcing insurance companies to make do with a 20% profit margin.
Norquist believes if the President prevails in the fiscal cliff negotiations and secures a balanced approach to deficit reduction through increased revenue and spending cuts, including maintaining middle class tax cuts, then “it’s the president who is threatening to raise taxes on the middle class” and it will push America’s economy off the cliff inciting teabaggers to come back as Tea Party 2. Norquist’s implication is that if Republicans hold middle class tax cuts hostage and the economy goes off the so-called fiscal cliff, it will be the President’s fault. Either way, Norquist contends the President is at fault and it is a perpetual refrain among Republicans that when the President does not submit to GOP demands, the results are his fault. However, Republicans, and Norquist, are still pushing the failed trickle-down economic theory Willard Romney championed and that Americans rejected in the recent election.
Speaker John Boehner said as much when he argued for closing middle class loopholes and reducing tax rates. He said, “when you go and increase tax rates, you make it more difficult for our economy to grow, after that income, the small business income, it is going to get taxed at a higher rate and as a result we’re gonna see slower economic growth.” No, the President is maintaining lower tax rates for 97% of small businesses and 98% of the population that gives middle class families more income to invest into the economy that has spurred growth in spite of Republican obstructionism. Norquist and Boehner decried the President’s balanced approach to grow the economy, and not just cutting spending and the wealthy’s taxes. Boehner even admitted “we have to have a balanced approach and what the President wants to do will slow the economy at a time when he says he wants the economy to grow and create jobs,” but neither Norquist nor Boehner propose anything remotely close to a balanced approach, and are pushing the same failed economic agenda that crippled the economy in the first place and lost Romney the election.
Norquist is deluded if he thinks issuing a warning about a resurgent “tea party 2” is going to frighten the President or Democrats into acquiescing to austerity and tax cuts for the rich. Republicans are still promoting Romney and Ryan’s tax plan that raises middle class taxes while giving more cuts to the wealthiest Americans, and they are incurring the wrath of voters who re-elected the President precisely because he opposes Republicans’ trickle down nonsense. There is a sentiment among the President’s supporters that their main objective is throwing the remaining tea party mentality out of Congress in 2014, and every time Norquist, Boehner, or any Republican threatens to hold the middle class and the poor hostage for the sake of the wealthy, they just inflame them more.
The President’s proposal of maintaining middle class and small business tax cuts while raising the wealthy’s tax rate to Clinton levels will grow the economy and create jobs. Norquist and his Republican puppets cannot come to grips with the results of the election and the fact that the American people advocate raising taxes on the richest Americans, and it provoked Norquist to assail the Affordable Care Act out of desperation to garner support from teabaggers who are living through the lowest tax rates in 60 years. One thing is certain, if Republicans cling to their demand to preserve the Bush tax rates for the wealthy, or eliminate healthcare insurance regulations, the voters will finish what they started in 2012, and rid America of Republicans and whichever version of the Tea Party that empowers Norquist, and when his devotees are gone, his anti-tax, anti-government, and anti-American agenda will go the way of Willard Romney; down to defeat and absolute irrelevance.