By Konrad Yakabuski, Globe and Mail, Autust 11, 2011
If signing the Taxpayer Protection pledge is the kind of covenant any aspiring or sitting Republican officeholder must now make in hopes of electoral salvation, Mr. Norquist is the modern GOP’s Supreme Being.
And in the quarter-century since Mr. Norquist devised the pledge, he has never had as big a flock in the U.S. capital. Only seven of 240 Republican members of the House of Representatives have refused to take the anti-tax oath formulated by Mr. Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform. Fully 40 of 47 GOP senators have taken the pledge.
The no-tax undertaking made by 234 House members (including one Democrat) nixed any consideration of revenue increases in the Aug. 1 deal between Congress and the Obama administration to raise the U.S. Treasury’s borrowing limit, in exchange for an equal amount in deficit reduction....
At the very least, however, Mr. Norquist has made solving the deficit problem more difficult. Counting on spending reductions alone to halt the rate of growth in the $14.3-trillion debt – which is set to exceed $20-trillion by 2021 – would require such deep cuts to everything from Medicare to the military that the federal government would shrink beyond recognition – sapping, many would say, its effectiveness...
If Mr. Norquist is able hold so much sway over U.S. fiscal policy, it is only partly because ATR (Americans for Tax Reform) has a generous – albeit unnamed – group of individual and corporate donors backing it. His job is rendered much easier by the anti-tax ethos at the heart of America’s founding myth.
Though he is highly partisan, this 54-year-old from the Boston suburbs is more of a libertarian than a Republican. He considers the war in Afghanistan a waste of money. He sits on the advisory council of GOProud, a lobby group for gay conservatives, and on the board of directors of the National Rifle Association. He is married to a Muslim.
Harvard MBA in hand, Mr. Norquist worked for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce before founding ATR at the height of the Reagan administration. He helped craft the Contract with America that propelled Republicans to their first House majority in four decades under Newt Gingrich in 1994.
Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks puts Mr. Norquist at the top of his list of “Beltway bandits” whose ideological blinders prevented them from seizing on a historic chance to right the American fiscal ship.
“Norquist,” Mr. Brooks recently wrote, “is the Zelig of Republican catastrophe. … He enforces rigid ultimatums that make governance, or even thinking, impossible.”
Mr. Norquist dismisses the notion, popular among liberal Democrats, that Tea Party Republicans in the House have held the rest of the country “hostage” to their anti-tax intransigence.
“We have a representative form of government,” he counters. “We elected a majority in the House who committed [to not raising taxes] before [their election], not afterward.”
All six of the Republican House and Senate members named to the 12-member congressional committee that must come up a $1.5-trillion deficit package by November have signed ATR’s pledge.
This man, who plays the role of a some-time comedian, is extremely dangerous for the simple reason that his "locked pledges" and the locked minds of those Republicans who signed them have held both the U.S. and to some extent the global economy hostage to their dogma.
There is no doubt that this "no-tax" position is another form of "dogma" of the kind that paralyses religious communities, and the individuals whose fear is so profound that they cling to such certainties.
The only thing unique that each person who seeks office in a democracy brings to the task, and the responsibility, is his/her unique perception and the freedom to hold that perception. When there is a block of a single-minded, enforced, monitored and controlled position on such an important matter as the unique power of the Congress to collect taxes, then that block is effectively behaving as a single tyrannical force in the country. And the rest of the country "be damned."
People are taking to the streets in the Middle East to push back against dictatorial governments.
When is it going to happen in the U.S.?
The rest of the world can only hope, "Soon!"