Who is Grover Norquist and why is he the most powerful Republican in America? Mr. Norquist is a Washington, D.C. lobbyist who, while working as an economist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce during 1985, was selected by President Reagan to be chairman of the newly created Americans For Tax Reform, a taxpayer advocacy organization. Americans For Tax Reform is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council, which receives nearly all of its funding from wealthy individuals, corporations and corporate foundations. Actual financial contributors to these organizations are a closely guarded secret. The American Legislative Exchange Council provides support to right-wing candidates and causes. In 1994, Norquist was also one of the co-authors of Newt Gingrich’s Contract With America.
It was in 1986 that Norquist, as chairman of Americans For Tax Reform, created the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which calls for politicians to vow not to increase any taxes no matter the underlying justification. Since the establishment of his pledge, Norquist has recruited 238 of the 242 current Republican House of Representatives and 41 of the 47 Senate Republicans, including all six Republican members of the bipartisan super committee who, as a result of pledging not to raise any taxes no matter the severity of the problem, failed last week to agree to terms in which to reduce the national debt. On the state level, more than 1,200 Republican governors, senators and representatives have signed the pledge. Additionally, every Republican currently running for president with the exception of Jon Huntsman has signed on as well.
Federal taxes paid as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) are at their lowest levels since the 1950s. U.S. corporate income taxes paid as a percentage of GDP are currently lower than every other industrialized country, yet Republicans complain that the corporate tax rate is the sole cause of the collapse of the American economy and the loss of manufacturing jobs. The real reason why manufacturing began leaving the country in mass about forty years ago was when the titans of industry realized they could pay third world workers pennies compared to union wages. Nobody likes paying taxes, but to live in a civilized society, taxes must be paid to sustain the level of living we expect. Why any politician would sign a pledge vowing to never vote to increase taxes without any knowledge of why it is needed is asinine. How one man can dictate an entire political party having never been elected to office is beyond me.
On a positive note concerning the failure of the super committee to reach an agreement on how to reduce the national debt, Congress will be forced to enact automatic spending cuts of $1.2 trillion, including $500 billion in defense during the next ten years. The defense budget has nearly doubled since September 11, 2001. We spend as much on defense as the rest of the world combined, and this does not include the budgets of this nation’s top-secret intelligence agencies created after the horrendous attack of September 11th. In his January 17, 1961 farewell address to the nation, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the country to beware of the mighty military-industrial complex. President Eisenhower stated that “…we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” Coming from a five-star general, many who credit for winning World War II, America should have listened.
Republicans like to opine that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are bankrupting our country, however, I believe differently. It is our imperialistic attitude of dictating our immoral values and assumed capitalistic economic superiority over the rest of the world via military dominance that is leading this country into financial catastrophe.
Steven H. Spring