Anti-tax man Norquist defiant at "fiscal cliff" edge

WASHINGTON Mon Nov 19, 2012 7:36pm EST

Grover Norquist, founder of the taxpayer advocacy group, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), adjusts his glasses as he speaks during the Reuters Washington Summit in Washington June 27, 2012. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Grover Norquist, founder of the taxpayer advocacy group, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), adjusts his glasses as he speaks during the Reuters Washington Summit in Washington June 27, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Prominent American anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist on Monday insisted that his movement was as strong as ever and that Congress would withstand pressure to raise taxes even if more Republican lawmakers are spurning his anti-tax pledge.

A vast majority of elected Republicans have signed Norquist's "taxpayer protection pledge," launched in 1986, which commits them to voting against tax increases, and it became a sort of litmus test among U.S. conservatives.

But the new House of Representatives, which takes office in January, has 16 Republicans who so far have not signed the pledge, up from six in the outgoing Congress. One new Republican senator, Jeff Flake, also has not signed.

Speaking on the sidelines of a Washington event, Norquist told Reuters: "People don't always take the pledge first when they run. A lot take it after they have been there for a while. The pledge isn't the only vehicle for stopping tax increases."

At the event, sponsored by the nonpartisan Center for the National Interest think tank where Norquist is a board member, he predicted House Republicans would withstand pressure from Democratic President Barack Obama to raise taxes.

Obama won re-election this month on a promise to raise tax rates on the wealthiest households while extending low tax rates for most other taxpayers down the income ladder.

He and Congress are trying to keep the country from falling off the so-called fiscal cliff at the end of the year when some $500 billion in tax cuts will expire and another $100 billion in automatic budget cuts will kick in.

Democrats gained seats in the both the 100-member Senate and the 435-member House with some Republicans softening their opposition to raising new tax revenue.

Though Republicans were stung by their electoral losses, Norquist said they can force Obama to compromise on tax increases and spending cuts by using the debt ceiling as leverage.

"The debt limit is an additional tool to explain to Obama that he is not the king," Norquist said. "He has to go to Congress for resources."

The U.S. Treasury Department has said it will have enough funds to avoid the ceiling until near the end of the year, and experts say they can use accounting maneuvers to delay the limit beyond that.

Some Republicans have assailed Norquist for his intransigence on tax increases. Former Republican Senator Alan Simpson, co-chairman of the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction commission, last week lambasted Republican supporters of the anti-tax pledge.

"What can Grover (Norquist) do to you? He can't murder you. He can't burn your house," Simpson said at an event hosted by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, an anti-budget deficit group.

(Editing by Howard Goller and Cynthia Osterman)

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Comments (16)
fromthecenter wrote:
yea, good old grover. He won’t have to worry about ss or healthcare when he is old. He has made a fortune conning the american public with the backing of others who don’t worry. Keep up the good work goober… It’s doing so well for the republican party. I’ll look forward to the day that this guy is indicted.

Nov 19, 2012 7:44pm EST  --  Report as abuse
todnwth wrote:
Grover Norquist is an idiot and those republicans who signed his pledge not to vote for raise in taxes are worse than he is.
Some one should shove his tax pledge paper down his throat and make him eat it and then kick his behind out of the country and if he does not want to help this country he should move to some country that does not have income taxes and stay there and he should not be given any chance to come back into this country!!!!

Nov 19, 2012 9:41pm EST  --  Report as abuse
xyz2055 wrote:
The situation is simple…Congress has spent ALL the money. We simply can’t afford the Bush era tax breaks. Unless you believe Dick Cheney (deficits don’t matter).

Nov 19, 2012 10:53pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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