LOS ANGELES, December 3, 2012 — With the fiscal cliff quickly approaching, one name very much in the news is Grover G. Norquist. The head of Americans for Tax Reform, Norquist is a political lightning rod.
Liberals consider Norquist the Prince of Darkness, the source of what they consider the rot at the heart of the Republican Party. They consider his no-new-taxes pledge a reason for the inflexible, uncompromising attitude of so many Congressional Republicans. Conservatives see him as a hero of the working class, standing up for those unable to be heard in Washington. His status is very close to that of conservative icon.
Norquist does not consider himself an icon, and those who know him know that he’s no Prince of Darkness. He is simply a man who deeply believes that lower taxes make for better economic policies and a stronger fiscal situation.
This is at the heart of what he believes leads to a better America.
Norquist is a deeply sincere man, committed to improving the United States by reducing taxes. This cause is his lifeblood. He does not preen for the cameras. He is a “true believer,” and his success is rooted in his legions of followers.
Eric Golub: What is the Grover Norquist story?
Grover Norquist: I Grew up in Massachusetts and studied Economics at Harvard. I spent one year as Executive Director of the National Taxpayers Union. Then came Harvard business school. Then I went down to DC with the Reagan victory in 1981.
EG: How did the anti-tax pledge come about?
GN: President Reagan asked me to run Americans for Tax Reform in 1985. ATR was the outside grassroots lobby for the Tax Reform Act of 1986. The pledge was protection against tax reform becoming a Trojan Horse for tax hikes.
EG: Americans are conditioned to think that “compromise” is good and “being stubborn” is bad. Why is this thinking wrong on taxes?
GN: Compromise is moving in the right directlon more slowly than one might like. A small tax cut is a compromise. Cutting a tax that should be abolished today is a compromise. Spending less on a stupid program is a compromise when one would like to end the destructive program now.
Moving in the wrong direction, spending more, taxing more, is losing, not compromising.
EG: President Obama tells us that “the rich” should pay their “fair share.” Is he wrong, and if so, why?
GN: It is wrong to divide the nation white against black, native born against immigrant or one religion against another. It is also wrong to divide people by income. East Germany was not an improvement over South Africa. Obama divides Americans against each other.
This is wrong.
EG: We are told that Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. Do we need the Million Secretary March?
GN: When you earn a dollar, you pay taxes. When you invest that dollar you pay taxes on cap gains, dividends, and corporate income taxes. The tax Buffet notices on his investments is the second or third or fourth time that dollar has been taxed.
Also, Warren has refused to tell us how much his secretary makes.
EG: What books, either by you or others, can best educate Americans on taxes and their effect on the overall economy?
GN: People should read Charles Adams’ books on tax policy and the struggle through history against taxes [One is] “For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilization.” Another is “Taxation in Colonial America,” by Alvin Rabushka, reminding Americans that they went to war opposing the 1 to 2% of GDP tax Britain imposed on its colonies.
Another one is Jude Wanninski’s “The Way the World Works,” highlighting the role of marginal tax rates throughout history.
EG: People associate you with taxes, but spending is also part of the equation. What is the basic Grover Norquist solution for the fiscal cliff, and what advice would you give lawmakers?
GN: The (Wisconsin Congressman and 2012 Vice Presidential candidate Paul) Ryan Budget would cut spending by six trillion in the next decade and reform taxes by bringing rates to 25% without increasing the tax burden.
EG: Bill Clinton raised marginal rates, and the economy boomed. Since the Internet revolution apparently had nothing to do with this, does that mean Keynesian economics works? If not, how does one explain the good 1990s economy? Was Clinton remotely relevant?
GN: The 1990s were of three parts:
A) The last two years of Bush damaged by his tax hike and spending increases.
B) The first two years of Clinton: static.
C) The last six years of Clinton with growth that began the week the GOP took the House and Senate and when the GOP cut capital gains taxes, reformed welfare and killed Clintoncare and stopped Clinton’s plans to raise spending.
EG: George W. Bush cut taxes in 2001 and 2003 and then the economy crashed in 2008. Are these events directly related? If not, why do so many people believe the tax cuts were bad?
GN: Democrats have to oppose tax cuts because they want higher spending and a high tax burden. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were (the problem).
EG: On the issue of taxes, do you have any thoughts on Tom Daschle, Kathleen Sebelius, Charles Rangel, Claire McCaskill, Timothy Geithner, or Jon Corzine?
GN: It is not hypocrisy to believe others should pay higher taxes and refuse to pay them yourself. It is consistent with their interests. Greedy. Selfish. Not hypocrisy.
EG: Do you have any preference between the Flax Tax, Fair Tax, or 9-9-9 Herman Cain plan, or are cuts in marginal rates sufficient?
GN: I prefer the Flat Tax. The Fair Tax and 999 create a new tax that might well become permanent in addition to the income tax.
EG: Do you think that the capital gains tax should be zero percent?
GN: Income should be taxed one time at one rate, not again and again.
EG: Many liberals accuse Republicans who want to cut taxes of being racists.
GN: I have heard the claim that cutting taxes is racist. It shows the nastiness of the other team, their lack of any real arguments, and reminds us we are winning.
EG: How would you like to be remembered one hundred years from now? What would you want people to say about Grover Norquist the person?
GN: I was part of the center-right movement in the U.S. that turned the country around from its Road to Serfdom and led to a smaller, wiser government. Someday I hope Americans will not believe that anyone had to spend his or her days fighting for limited government because everyone they know wants maximum freedom and minimum statism. Kinda like the way Americans view abolitionists … doesn’t everyone agree with that now?
EG: Who are your political heroes, American or worldwide?
GN: My Dad and Ronald Reagan
EG: Who is more dangerous to society, you or Grover from Sesame Street? You both have adorable furry beards.
GN: Grover from Sesame Street seems harmless. All those Disney princesses are a danger to the republic and breed monarchical yearnings.
Many politicians come to Washington and lose their way. Some never had their way to begin with. The foundation of our democracy rests on the hard work of citizen activists. With the help of Grover Norquist and many others who believe in sound policy decisions, it is imperative that the politicians in Washington listen to the people and cut taxes and spending.
It is not about being on the political left or right. It is about doing what is right for all of us. Thank you Mr. Norquist for your time.
Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, blogger, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian. Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.”
Eric is 100% alcohol, tobacco, drug, and liberalism free. Follow Eric on Twitter @TYGRRRREXPRESS. Read more from Eric at TYGRRRR EXPRESS
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