Monday, July 25, 2011

Grover Norquist: Democrats' Best Friend

The last time that I visited the budget deficit debacle was in a post titled "The Great Republican Retreat of 2011." The headline pretty much said it all -- that the GOP House leadership was hell bent on grabbing defeat from the jaws of compromise -- and would rue the day it made promises that defied fiscal reality.

After weeks of moving deck chairs on their Titantic, the best that the House leadership has been able to come up with is a balanced budget Constitutional amendment that has about as much chance of becoming law as Rush Limbaugh has of flapping his beefy arms and flying. Oh, and raising walking out of budget meeting with the president and vice president to an art form.

In the end, the Senate Republican leadership probably will hold its collective nose and sign onto a Senate compromise bill endorsed by President Obama and supported by a goodly number of Republicans that makes substantial cuts in government spending, including areas that many of the president's supporters are going ballistic over because they had assumed were sacrosanct.

No, boys and girls of the liberal persuasion, nothing is sacrosanct when you're a deal maker like Obama.

The cuts are not nearly the size the House leadership originally pursued by using through-the-looking-glass mathematics, while the compromise bill includes a long overdue overhaul of the tax code (read tax hikes for the rich) that runs against the grain for Republicans determined to hold the line on taxes while devastating entitlement programs.

And making sure their pet projects back home are funded, most conspicuously a $700 million bridge that would link Minnesota and Wisconsin.

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The Republican Party, of course, is stumbling through an era where ideological purity and ultimatums have replaced governance, and while there is plenty of blame to go around, Grover Norquist has worked tirelessly to earn the biggest share.

Norquist, who as a strategist launched Newt Gingrich on a series of policy blunders and gaffes that have made him the darling of late-night TV comedians and later became cozy with super lobbyist and now ex-con Jack Abramoff, has been the party's primary no-tax-increase enforcer through his Americans For Tax Reform. By Norquist's crude calculus, if a budget default shuts down government, deprives seniors of the Social Security checks and roils Wall Street and global markets, what's not to like?

Republican officeholders have not dared to cross swords with him, which helps explain why Norquist's paws are on every GOP defeat of consequence since the party ceded the White House. Until the deficit disaster that most conspicuously was Paul Ryan's reverse Robin Hood plan to lower the deficit by screwing the middle class and poor while rewarding the rich.

You can be sure that Norquist has more rabbits in his hat. Democrats sure hope so.

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