Thursday, November 15, 2012

Moving Forward, Will Congress Treat Grover Norquist As Just Another Rapacious K Street Lobbyist?


Of the three Democrats who signed Grover Norquist's anti-tax pledge only one, Rob Andrews (NJ), will be returning to Congress. Nebraska reactionary and corporate whore Ben Nelson was driven from office and will return to lobbying and Kentucky Blue Dog Ben Chandler was defeated despite hundreds of thousands of dollars wasted on his race by the DCCC. Not that big a deal in Norquist-world. In the current Congress all but 6 of the 242 Republicans had signed-- plus 40 of the 47 Republican senators. Yesterday in The Hill, Russell Berman reported that the next Congress will be very different for Norquist.
Fewer incoming members of the House and Senate have signed the pledge against tax increases run by Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, in a reflection not only of the seats that Democrats gained but of the success they’ve enjoyed in vilifying Norquist.

About a dozen newly elected House Republicans refused to sign the anti-tax pledge during their campaigns, and another handful of returning Republicans have disavowed their allegiance to the written commitment.

With Democrats picking up seven or eight seats, that means the pledge guides fewer than the 218 members needed for a majority. In the Senate, where Republicans lost two seats, just 39 members of the chamber are pledge-signers, according to the group’s records. That is a drop from 238 members of the House and 41 senators  who committed to the pledge at the start of the 112th Congress.

Norquist’s diminished clout could have ramifications during intensifying negotiations over the so-called “fiscal cliff” and a grand bargain on taxes, spending and entitlements that leaders in both parties want to strike in the coming months.

  In the wake of President Obama’s reelection, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said Republicans could accept a deal that includes new revenue under certain conditions. Legislation that increases overall federal revenue could violate the pledge, which forbids its signers from supporting increases in the marginal income tax rate or the elimination of deductions and loopholes that are not offset with tax cuts elsewhere.

Democratic leaders have blamed Norquist for the failure of previous deficit talks, accusing Republicans of bowing to his pledge in opposing an agreement with new tax revenue. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has compared Norquist to a “puppeteer” and dubbed the House majority “the Grover Norquist Congress.”

The Republican candidates who declined to sign the pledge in 2012 hail from a variety of states and districts, some safely red and others competitive. Most of the candidates said their decision should not be interpreted as support for tax increases.

...At the height of deficit talks in 2011, Norquist faced criticism from some Republicans who said they did not feel bound by a pledge many of them took years ago when they first ran for the House. Returning Republican Reps. Mike Simpson (Idaho), Howard Coble (N.C.), Jeff Fortenberry (Neb.) and Scott Rigell (Va.), among others, all disavowed the commitment. A pledge-signer in the Senate, Tom Coburn (Okla.), also publicly battled with Norquist... A House Democratic leadership aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity, was more hopeful. “As far as [Norquist’s] ability to sway votes, it’s gone,” the aide said. “So I don’t think he’s a concern.”
And from now until forever Norquist will always be known as the "poopy-head" guy... which probably won't make him more influential, especially now that Joe Walsh and Allen West have been defeated for reelection. 

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