The Washington Times - November 13, 2013, 03:34PM

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), argued Wednesday that Republicans have the advantage in current fiscal negotiations on Capitol Hill because of the across-the-board spending cuts currently in effect.

He likened the so-called “sequestration” cuts, which Democrats have criticized as arbitrary and unnecessarily deep, as a loosely-fitting “choke collar” the GOP can employ as a tactic in lieu of agreeing to tax increases.


“This is what winning looks like,” the longtime anti-tax advocate said at the Washington Ideas Forum, when it was pointed out that fewer people are talking about his group’s no-tax-hike pledge these days. “Because the other team doesn’t talk about raising taxes.

“There’s not going to be a tax increase — you have a united Republican House and Senate that wouldn’t allow a tax increase,” he said, calling the sequester a “big change” in the debate.

“For years, people said, someday, we’re going to have to fix entitlements. Someday. And the Democrat requirement to agree to that, because you need bipartisan support for something that big, would have to be a tax increase,” he said.

“So the old deal was ‘raise taxes for entitlement reform,’” he continued. “There’s now a new deal. The new one is we have a sequester — good for 10 years. Real spending limits. It’s a choke collar, and the Democrats think it’s a very tight choke collar. I think it’s a rather loosely-fitting one.”

Lawmakers working to hammer out a fiscal deal between House and Senate spending blueprints have already conceded that a “grand bargain” to deal with the country’s long-term fiscal woes is not in the offing. Republicans have balked at the notion of tax hikes, but Democrats have likewise rejected the idea of major reforms to entitlement programs like Medicare.

The forum, which will continue Thursday, is co-hosted by The Atlantic, the Aspen Institute and the Newseum.