November 27, 2012
WSJ: Republicans, the Fiscal Cliff, and Grover Norquist
Following up on yesterday's post, Grover Norquist and the Fiscal Cliff: Wall Street Journal editorial, Republicans and the Tax Pledge: Grover Norquist Is Not the Problem in Washington:
One of the more amazing post-election spectacles is the media celebration of Republicans who say they're willing to repudiate their pledge against raising taxes. So the same folks who like to denounce politicians because they can't be trusted are now praising politicians who openly admit they can't be trusted.
The spectacle is part of what is becoming a tripartisan—Democrats, media, some Republicans—attempt to stigmatize Grover Norquist as the source of all Beltway fiscal woes and gridlock. Mr. Norquist, who runs an outfit called Americans for Tax Reform, is the fellow who came up with the no-new-taxes pledge some 20 years ago. He tries to get politicians to sign it, and hundreds of Republicans have done so. He does not hold a gun to their heads. ...
If Republicans in Congress want to repudiate the pledge, they are free to do so at any time. They could even quote Edmund Burke's line that a democratic representative owes his electors his best judgment, not a slavish fealty to majority opinion. But that would mean saying they didn't mean it when they signed the pledge. So they are now busy pretending that Mr. Norquist is a modern Merlin who conned them into signing the pledge and must be eliminated before they can do the "right thing" and raise taxes.
The fact is that Republicans and Mr. Norquist both face a new political reality on taxes. ... The one thing Republicans shouldn't do is join the media and Democratic chorus that Mr. Norquist and his pledge are the root of our political and economic woes. The real problems are a political class that won't control its spending and economic policies that are retarding growth. That's where the GOP should keep its public focus. ...
Republican voters know that elections have consequences and that Mitt Romney's defeat means there will be policy defeats too. But they will give the House and Senate GOP credit if it fights for its principles and drives a hard bargain. The voters are also smart enough to know that Republicans who focus on Mr. Norquist are part of the problem.
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