Americans for Tax Reform head Grover Norquist fired back against criticism that his anti-tax pledge is getting in the way of a tax compromise by Congress, arguing in an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV that his pledge makes possible real tax reform and that contained in any compromise is a hidden tax increase.
Norquist’s group organizes the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which asks all candidates for federal and state office to commit themselves in writing to oppose all tax increases. The pledge, which Norquist says he dreamed up when he was 12 years old, was endorsed by Ronald Reagan upon its inception in 1986, and has been signed by more than 1,100 state office holders as well as 238 current House members and 41 current Senators.
Norquist has come under fire from the first President George Bush and others about the rigidity of the pledge and Senate Democrats believe they have come up with a plan to get around the anti-tax pledge by letting all tax cuts lapse Jan. 1 and then reinstating most of them days later, an idea which Norquist has said “doesn’t pass the laugh test.”
The plan shows efforts by lawmakers to include new federal revenues in an attempt to avoid the “fiscal cliff” in January. All Bush-era tax cuts expire at that time and automatic spending cuts to the military kick in.
Norquist told Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview that the pledge “stops a tax increase, so if somebody tells you the pledge is getting in the way of getting something done what they mean is it’s getting in the way of a tax increase.”
“If they say it gets in the way of a compromise they haven’t finished the sentence,” he said. “It gets in the way of a compromise that’s actually a hidden tax increase. So the pledge stops tax increases. It makes possible real tax reform and real spending restraint.”
The pledge does not get in the way of the plan proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, which the Republican House has passed and most Republicans in the Senate have supported, Norquist said, and “would reduce government spending by six trillion dollars over the next decade, reform taxes, not raise taxes but lower rates, broaden the base for simpler, more pro-growth tax policy.”
Norquist said he has little confidence that President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats can help the U.S. avoid the “fiscal cliff,” a term for when all the tax cuts that former President George W. Bush put in place are set to expire and when automatic spending cuts to military and domestic programs kick in.
Obama and the Democrats “want the present lower taxes to lapse and so everything would snap back to 2001 and 2003,” Norquist said. He then painted a picture of what things will look like when the Bush tax cuts expire.
“Tax cuts would disappear, the Alternative Minimum Tax, which is right now limited in its impact, would become unlimited, would hit not the four million Americans it hits now but 31 million families would be hit by the Alternative Minimum Tax,” he said. “The R&D tax credit which protects investment and research development would disappear. So the whole series, this $500 billion tax increase that hits January 1 if Obama is reelected or if the Democrats control the U.S. Senate. So on Election Day if you vote Obama or the Democratic senator you could end up with, we'll end up with a $500 billion tax increase in January. If Romney and the Republican senator are elected that would be stopped.”
Norquist then slammed Obama’s plan to let the Bush tax cuts expire for just those making more than $250,000 a year, saying it actually raises taxes on small businesses.
“Many small businesses, most small businesses, pay as if they were individuals,” he said. “They pay the personal income tax. So when you talk about a successful small business it looks like a rich person. When Obama says ‘I’m going to tax rich people,’ well, what you’re taxing is any growing small business. So it would be devastating to the small business community.”
Norquist said that allowing the payroll tax cut to expire would result in a significant tax increase. “Obama has put that in, I think, in order to be able to claim he’s for lower taxes,” he said. “But again he passed it temporarily, one year. He kind of likes to give people things temporarily so he can maintain political control over individuals. I think we should make tax cuts permanent. All of the tax increases that Obama has put into place have been permanent. All of the handful of tax cuts have all been temporary.”
Norquist weighed in on Obama’s much-criticized remarks in a Roanoke speech in which the president said, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
“The liberals and left of the United States have been trying to make the case that merit does not exist,” Norquist said. “People who earn more money because they work on Saturdays don’t deserve to keep their money. People who sacrifice and build a small business don’t deserve to earn more money than somebody who’s on welfare. So they have to delegitimize your success.”
“You wake up early in the morning, go to work, your neighbor doesn’t; you don’t deserve any more than he does,” Norquist said. “You risk your life savings to build a business and you succeed; you don’t deserve anything. How do they come up with that? Well the argument is that, on several levels, because you drove on a road that the government built, with your tax dollars, by the way, with your gasoline taxes, that somehow the government deserves something off your work.”
“… I couldn’t believe that the president of the United States was explaining that Bill Gates did not build Microsoft and that Apple was not built by Steve Jobs,” Norquist added. “That he, Bill Clinton, and all his liberal Democratic friends deserve as much credit, as much of the money, as these companies and individuals created, as the people who actually did the work.”
Norquist said he thinks Americans will elect Mitt Romney and a Republican Congress to stop Obamacare and tax hikes.
“… if you vote for Obama and he wins, you will get the 20 taxes in Obamacare and the government will raise taxes on your health savings account, your flexible savings account, your Blue Cross/ Blue Shield, on medical devices, on insurance, all those tax increases to tax you to give things to other people,” Norquist said. “If you vote for Obama and he wins, then there’s a $500 billion tax increase that happens automatically on the first of January, 2013. That’s 56 days after you vote for Obama. You get hit in the forehead with those collections of tax increases.
“You vote for Romney, and a Republican Senate, you have to do both, then we can and will, and Gov. Romney and the Republicans in the House and Senate made it very clear: elect a Republican government, all of Obamacare and Obama taxes go away and the $500 billion tax increase goes away and they’ll do tax reform instead."
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