TYRRELL: Republicans, Democrats and Grover

Norquist tax pledge distinguishes the parties

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What is a Republican elected official? A Republican elected official is one who says, “I won’t raise my constituents’ taxes.” Asked to elaborate, the Republican elected official explains, “I will keep taxes down to allow the economy to grow and to throw off ever more tax revenue.” The Republican believes that the way to pay for government is to let the economy roar — and to keep spending reasonable.

What is a Democratic elected official? Back in the early 1960s, a Democratic elected official, at least when it came to growing the economy, was not much different from a Republican. President John F. Kennedy called for a tax cut to fire up the economy. Things are different now. A Democratic elected official today is a crafty pol whose economic theories are at best muzzy-headed. The Democrats supposedly have embraced the middle class. That is, as the mathematician Sen. Patty Murray of Washington said on National Public Radio the other day, “98 percent” of the American people. The Democrats promise not to raise taxes on this middle class. They will only raise them on the top 2 percent, who are mostly scoundrels anyway, and the economy will grow, and all will be well.

One trillion dollars in budget deficits will continue for the next four years, but everyone will be happy. Medicare will continue to pay out. Medicaid and Social Security will continue to pay out. All the lesser entitlement programs will flourish. If we need more money, the Democrats will hit the upper 2 percent even harder. You wondered where the goose that laid the golden egg might be? Well, for Democrats it is to be found among that 2 percent. They really believe that all of America is with them, save for this fat and lazy 2 percent.

Back in the days when such geniuses as President Obama held such hope for the Occupy movement — those days were not long ago — the members of that movement and their supporters spoke of the 99 percent of Americans who were also supposedly full of hope for the movement. Ms. Murray was not the only one to speak of the opulent 2 percent and the nearly desperate 98 percent. Much of the Democratic Party did also as they embraced us, the 98 percent of Americans who are middle class — not working class, not upper-middle class, not working poor or the poor. We are all middle class, except that dratted 2 percent, and we shall never have a tax increase brought down on us by the Democrats. They promise. Yippee! If you believe the 2 percent can pay off the Prophet Obama’s $20 trillion national debt when he leaves office, you are an ignoramus.

Now, upon this happy scene of Republicans holding the line on raising taxes and of Democrats talking gibberish about their preposterous 98 percent of Americans all luxuriating in trillion-dollar budgetary overruns, comes one Grover Norquist. He is a pleasant barbigerous man of sunny disposition given to homespun truths such as “You can either reform government so that it spends less and works better, or you can raise taxes to keep doing all the things we have been doing that haven’t worked very well.” Conservatives adore him, and many independents do, too. There are many reasons to adore Grover. He is optimistic, commonsensical, a friend to all Americans who love their freedoms as secured for them in the Constitution. Moreover, he is adamantly opposed to tax increases. He is the author of the tax pledge that his organization, Americans for Tax Reform, began asking Capitol Hill politicians to sign 20 years ago. Most Republicans have, and by doing so they have distinguished themselves from the Democrats of whom only one has signed the pledge.

Once again — remember attack dog Joe Biden’s assault on him in the vice presidential debate? — Grover was made out to be a monster, a tyrant forcing congressional Republicans to stand by their pledge not to raise taxes. Actually, he has said in his homespun vernacular, “If you want to go to your voters and say ‘I promised you this, and I’m breaking my promise,’ you can have that conversation,” but “You’re not having an argument with me. You’ve made a commitment to your voters.” My guess is that most Republicans will stand by their pledge. They know opposition to tax increases is one of the things that makes them Republicans and that in two more years, they will resume Republican domination of government.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor-in-chief of the American Spectator and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute. He is the author most recently of “The Death of Liberalism” (Thomas Nelson, 2012).

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