For the first time in the current budget fight, anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist, acknowledged that GOP primary voters won’t rebel against Republicans who cut a deal to avoid automatic tax increases and spending cuts, even if it increases tax revenues above their current level.
“If a deal is bad, if it isn’t the spending you thought, if the taxes are not de minimis or evening out or something, and people look at it and go, ‘that is a massive tax increase and no spending cuts,’ that would be very bad,” Norquist said at a breakfast roundtable Wednesday hosted by Politico.
Norquist didn’t stipulate what would constitute “de minimis” taxes. But he argued that Republicans could get the better end of any bargain, without detonating the ticking austerity bomb, by publicly defining their terms, and contrasting them with Obama’s call for raising tax rates on top earners. If that bargain included ‘de minimis’ new taxes, Norquist suggested, it could pass muster with the voters to whom Republicans elected officials have pledged not to raise taxes.
However, Norquist also suggested that voting for legislation to passively allow the Bush tax cuts for high earners to expire wouldn’t satisfy the pledge. Norquist criticized conservative Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), who has encouraged House Republicans to accept President Obama’s terms, extend middle income tax rates, and continue the fight over tax cuts for the top two percent down the road.
“It’s an interesting tactic or strategy,” Norquist said. “By doing that, then, all he did is have a conversation about other ways to raise taxes.”
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.