Americans for Tax Reform

The New York Times Compares Americans for Tax Reform to Terrorists

When you think of "extremist groups," you probably think of grainy videos shot in a cave with Arabic text scrolling across the bottom. But here at home, we have a different kind of extremist group. The conservative kind. I just got this note from Americans for Tax Reform: Dear Taxpayer, The New York Times editorial […]

Americans for Tax Reform Wishes You a Happy Cost of Government Day

In 2014, Cost of Government Day falls on July 6.This day marks the point during the year when the average American has earned enough income to pay for his or her share of the spending and regulatory burdens imposed by government at the federal, state and local levels. While Americans may be celebrating Independence Day […]

Let’s Just Call Everything We Don’t Like a Tax to Get People Upset

No one likes taxes, that much we know. So if you're raging against a particular issue, it's best to call any exchange of money a "tax" to hammer home your point about how awful and terrible and unfair the collection of that money is. Case in point: Union dues are a tax. They are a […]

Americans for Tax Reform Suggests You Get Fat Because Obamacare

Listen, Grover Norquist, just because you don't take your own health seriously doesn't mean the rest of us should boycott the gym: Like many people you’ve probably noticed your wallet feeling a little lighter than usual lately. Sorry, but it’s not because you work your biceps every day at the gym. It’s because while you’ve […]

Leave It to Americans for Tax Reform to Ruin the Thrill of the Winter Olympics

It was only a matter of time. Cry cry cry, the IRS taxes income Americans earn in foreign countries, including Olympic prizes: As 230 U.S. Olympic athletes gear up to compete in the 2014 Winter Games, the only thing colder than the slopes at Sochi is the fact that any prizes awarded by the U.S. […]

CREW Goes After Grover Norquist, Compares His ATR Works to Those of Al Capone

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington — or CREW, as they are lovingly and lazily known for those of us who love acronyms and hate organizations with long complicated names — has filed a complaint with the IRS and DoJ in the hopes they will investigate Americans for Tax Reform and, more specifically, its […]

Grover Norquist Hopes the Next Time Ted Cruz Wants to Troll the Entire Country, He’ll Run It Past Some People Who May or May Not Be Grover Norquist

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, has ratcheted up his criticisms of Sen. Ted Cruz, calling the Texas tea party hero a poor political planner and demanding he apologize to fellow Republicans for his relentless push to defund Obamacare. Mr. Cruz’s filibuster and ongoing rhetoric about the need to topple Obamacare was a shaky […]

Americans for Tax Reform Suggesting That Phil Mickelson May Never Play the Open Championship Again Is Stupidly Ludicrous

Yes, someone at Americans for Tax Reform actually wrote this: Over the weekend, Phil Mickelson won the Scottish Open and the Open Championship. While winning even one PGA event is a tremendous feat, Mickelson won’t be left with much to celebrate upon his return from the U.K. In his recent Forbes article, K. Sean Packard, CPA (Director […]

Americans for Tax Reform: Playing Professional Football in Texas to Save Taxes > Working for Jerry Jones

Tony Romo will make a lot of money playing quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys under his new contract. How much money that contract is actually worth depends on how you look at the situation.  Americans for Tax Reform looks at the situation in the following terms: if, you opt to play for a team in a state […]

Grover Norquist Gives the All-clear on ‘Plan B’

Here's the official word from ATR: ATR has consistently maintained that individual Members of Congress make a pledge to their constituents to oppose and vote against tax increases.  The House this week will vote on a tax bill.  This legislation—popularly known as “Plan B”–permanently prevents a tax increase on families making less than $1 million […]

George and Barbara Bush Appear Confused About Who This Grover Norquist Fellow Is

Old people are great. Sure, their driving endangers the rest of us and they make funny noises but their endearing wit and wisdom is something that we should all appreciate. Yes, even "GET OFF MY LAWN" has a sliver of charm to it. George and Barbara Bush have gotten to the age where you might […]

And Here You Probably Thought Americans for Tax Reform Just Lobbied Against Taxes

The Hill reports that tax unfriend Grover Norquist and his merry band of scamps at Americans for Tax Reform spent over $300k lobbying in the first three months of year. That beats the same time period for last year by 82%. Pretty impressive work, but considering it's an election year, not surprising. What you might […]

Illinois Congressman Timothy Johnson Forgot That He Signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, Then Remembered and Says It’s No Big Deal, Doesn’t Apply to Him

After Congressman Timothy Johnson (R-IL) called Grover Norquist's Taxpayer Protection Pledge “disingenuous and irresponsible,” and claimed he "never signed anything," when told he was, in fact, a signor, someone from ATR got on the case:  Americans for Tax Reform provided Roll Call with a copy of Johnson’s signature on the tax pledge from 2002. On Feb. […]

Gingrich, Romney Currently Leading the Race to Be Grover Norquist’s Whipping Boy

Did I say “Grover Norquist”? Sorry, sorry. By that, I meant, “the American People.”


Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Hear that, Mittens? You need to do a re-write, or the the citizens of this great land will have you by the short and curlies. Get on it.

[via The Hill]

Steel Cage Death Tax Match: David Cay Johnston vs. Grover Norquist

Yesterday we called attention to the 60 Minutes interview of tax hatchetman Grover Norquist. Norquist haters nationwide were no doubt gritting their teeth while GGN yukked it up with Steve Kroft and spread the gospel of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge (aka “THE PLEDGE”). This may have inspired today’s column by the Godfather of Tax Journalists, David Cay Johnston. It explains first, how the utter failure of the Congressional Supercommittee actually will result in tax increases:

[B]arring a mad scramble to pass new laws in the next six weeks, workers will pay around $110 billion more in payroll taxes next year and they will not get a $55 billion tax cut proposed two months ago by President Barack Obama. Absent another last-minute fix, more than 22 million families will be required to pay higher income taxes due to the Alternative Minimum Tax, some only because a parent or child has cancer or some other costly medical need.

DCJ is of the opinion that these tax increases would violate THE PLEDGE and thus, should put every signer of THE PLEDGE directly in the tax assassin’s crosshairs. In short, THE PLEDGE is bullshit, says DCJ and its signers should really thinking about another pledge they took and act accordingly:

Pledge signers cannot serve two masters, Norquist and the Constitution. Politicians who do not renounce their pledge of allegiance to Norquist do not deserve to hold office as it prevents them from doing whatever is in the country’s best interests.

You have a choice to make, GOP lawmakers. This plea comes from another bearded man, so it should be taken just as serious.

GOP inaction means higher taxes [DCJ/Reuters]

Grover Norquist Denies Having Republican Congressional Members By Their Pubes

Republican Party HMFIC Grover Norquist was on 60 Minutes last night and Steve Kroft did his best to pull one over on him but as you might expect, GGN took all the questions like the K 12th Street gangsta that he is.


Lots of great moments to note. Some of my personal favorites:

1. Bob Dole’s face at ~1:30.

2. Newt Gingrich’s horrendous handwriting

3. Rat heads in the Coke bottle are quite a stunning image.

4. Two words: Grover, Babe

5. Let’s be real here: The President of Americans for Tax Reform doesn’t take the metro.

And Jesus, is Alan Simpson a grumpy old coot or what? Other observations are welcome at this time.

Memo to Anyone Under the Impression That There Is Some Secret Backdoor Escape Hatch in the Taxpayer Protection Pledge That Says a Hike in the Capital Gains Tax Is Allowed: There Isn’t One

Because a whole slew of people out there seem to have severe memory loss and there are rumors that the not-so-Supercommittee is kicking around a hike in the capital gains tax, Americans for Tax Reform will go over this ONE. MORE. TIME.

The Congressional “Super Committee” is now in its final week of deliberations. Rumors are constantly swirling around Washington about what they are talking about. One rumor we have heard is that the Super Committee might consider hiking the capital gains tax rate paid by a wide range of investment partnerships, including partners and employees at private equity, venture capital and real estate firms. The Taxpayer Protection Pledge commits signers to “oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses.” This clearly precludes any hike in the capital gains tax rate.

Does Grover Norquist have to slap you people?

Any Capital Gains Rate Hike Violates Tax Pledge [ATR]

Americans for Tax Reform Would Like to Make President Obama’s Jobs Speech a Little More Fun

To mark tomorrow night’s “Jobs Speech” by President Obama, the Ronald Reagan-possessed imps over at Americans for Tax Reform are providing some entertainment to get you through what will be, in all likelihood, a message that will be big on rhetoric with virtually no chance of anyone (Joe Biden included) breaking into song. And because most of the people that will be watching the speech will be either journalist/blabby pundit-types and people who are physically unable to remove themselves from the couch, they went with the simplest (yet oddly enjoyable) game possible. BINGO.


BINGO_Sept 2011 Obama Jobs Speech Bingo Card 1

As you can see, ATR has studiously selected the words and phrases they think will be spoken most often by the President and have created five different cards so that you can play with your fellow lovers of liberty. They even took the trouble to define many of these terms in case you can’t keep everything straight. Based on ATR’s interpretation, you are more or less going to be listening to the President utter “tax hikes” on a loop. Of course if BINGO isn’t your thing, you simply could just turn this into a drinking game, although it’s conceivable this could result in several cases of alcohol poisoning.

The added (surely unintentional) bonus is that you can use this card as a template for tonight’s Republican Presidential candidate debate where many of these terms will applicable. You’ll have to throw in “God,” “Tax cuts,” “Small Businesses,” “Ronald Reagan,” and perhaps a few others I’m forgetting but this more or less will cover the bases.

Time to play Big Speech BINGO! [ATR]

Don’t Think You Can Just Go Around Lying About the Taxpayer Protection Pledge and Not Expect Americans for Tax Reform to Have Their Feelings Hurt

A large portion of the populace probably thinks that Americans for Tax Reform president and co-founder Grover Norquist – and by extension, all of ATR – is an ideological, tax-hating, meanie. Sure, he tracks the bagels and coffee consumption at meetings and sure, he might let terrorists have their way with our grandmothers if the chips are down but that’s just holding true to his principles of austerity. Plus, he’s down with Elmo and gives the green light to cheeky blog posts, so you know he’s got a soft spot and a sense of humor.

So when someone says something mean about ATR or the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, it cuts. It cuts deep. And when someone running for public office has the audacity to lie about the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, that’s when things have simply crossed the line to the point of no return.

Case in point – Kate Marshall, who is running for Congress in Nevada’s 2nd District said the following about her opponent Mark Amodei:

“He signed a tax pledge which basically says no tax loopholes shall be left behind,” Marshall said. “He shall never turn down a subsidy, shall never close a loophole.”

Well, this little statement got a few knickers in a twist over at ATR and they pulled a quote from Factcheck.org to prove Marshall wrong:

ATR’s tax pledge does protect corporations in general — but only from an overall increase in taxes. It says nothing about jobs at all. More important, it does not rule out an overhaul of the tax code. Signers agree to oppose any “net” reduction of deductions or credits “unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.” […] That leaves ample room for elimination of any number of special tax breaks so long as the overall level of taxation is not increased. To claim that this “protects” any particular provision of the tax code is simply untrue.

So now, Grover and Co. would like Kate Marshall to apologize for this blatant disregard for the truth. This can be made in the form of a written apology, public statement, sending Grover a bouquet of flowers or – here’s a wild idea – how about SIGNING THE PLEDGE? That would probably smooth things over.

Kate Marshall Urged to Apologize for Lies About Taxpayer Protection Pledge [ATR]
Four special election candidates spar over taxes [LVS]

Americans For Tax Reform Back to Work After Bomb Scare

Safe to say that Elmo isn’t a suspect.

The staff of Americans For Tax Reform were briefly evacuated from their DC headquarters this morning as police responded to a bomb threat against the building. No explosives were found and the staff has returned to work.

The call came in around 9:10 Monday morning, according to a police spokesperson contacted by TPM. The officer could not say how long the staff was evacuated but said police had allowed them to return to work by the time we called at around 11:00 AM.

Also, no word if this is the Bizarro Grover at work.

Bomb Threat Briefly Evacuates Headquarters Of Grover Norquist Group [TPM via Gawker]

Do Muppets Share Grover Norquist’s Views on Tax Policy?

I won’t speak for all of Henson’s peeps [?] but judging by Grover’s reaction to Elmo, you’ve got to think that at least one Muppet is on board with the TP^2.

Conventional wisdom would lead you to believe that the other Grover would be on board with GGN simply based on name, but we won’t make any assumptions.

Letting the Bush Tax Cuts Expire May Not Be a Violation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge But Grover Norquist Would Still Advise You Against That Course of Action

As you well know, signing Grover Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge is the equivalent to having your name written in the Fiscal-Conservative-Starve-the-Beast Book of Life. If you break tservative credentials will go up in a poof of red, white and blue smoke, you’ll be bludgeoned to death with a rolled up copy of the U.S. Constitution and hopefully Ronald Reagan will have mercy on your soul.

Lately though, partly due to this little debt ceiling debate, the Pledge has come under increased scrutiny and after the Senate approved a repeal of ethanol tax credits without a corresponding reduction in tax rates, some suggested that it is meaningless. Since this is obviously nonsense, Grover has gone on a PR offensive, in order to spell it for the RUBES out there so they can understand what constitutes a violation and what does not. Everything seemed to be back on the up and up until today, the Washington Post ran an editorial that may further muddy the waters:

Would allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire as scheduled in 2012 violate this vow? We posed this question to Grover Norquist, its author and enforcer, and his answer was both surprising and encouraging: No.

In other words, according to Mr. Norquist’s interpretation of the Americans for Tax Reform pledge, lawmakers have the technical leeway to bring in as much as $4 trillion in new tax revenue — the cost of extending President George W. Bush’s tax cuts for another decade — without being accused of breaking their promise. “Not continuing a tax cut is not technically a tax increase,” Mr. Norquist told us. So it doesn’t violate the pledge? “We wouldn’t hold it that way,” he said.

Naturally, some DOPES out there got all worked up as The Hill reports, “Democrats had jumped on that quote, suggesting it was a sign that Norquist was willing to be more reasonable on taxes than many congressional Republicans.”

As you can see, the words “Norquist,” “reasonable,” and “taxes” are in extremely close proximity which indicates that these “Democrats” are what I’d like to call “COMPLETE IDIOTS.” Problem is, whomever grabs the loudest megaphone first in DC usually gets dibs on what the dish is so Americans for Tax Reform has AGAIN clarified how this Pledge thing works:

ATR opposes all tax increases on the American people. Any failure to extend or make permanent the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, in whole or in part, would clearly increase taxes on the American people. In addition, the failure to extend the AMT patch would increase taxes. The outlines of the plans are deliberately hazy, but it appears that both Obama’s Simpson-Bowles commission proposal and the Gang-of-Six proposal dramatically increase taxes on the American people.

It is a violation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to trade temporary tax reductions for permanent tax hikes.

In other words, if you let the “Bush Tax Cuts” expire that’s fine but you just be sure replace them with “Obama Tax Cuts” to ensure there’s no trouble.

Out from under the anti-tax pledge [WaPo]
Grover Norquist tries to clarify Bush tax cut remarks [The Hill]
ATR Statement on Washington Post Editorial [ATR]

How Does Americans for Tax Reform Feel About Tom Coburn’s “Back in Black” Deficit Reduction Plan?

It’s no secret that Grover Norquist’s patience with Tom Coburn ran out long ago. This hasn’t stopped Coburn from throwing out his own deficit reduction plan – entitled “Back in Black” – in order to save us all from fighting over scraps in the street. Predictably, Americans for Tax Reform has responded in due course, only they’re calling it “A Trillion Dollar Tax Hike Plan.” Maybe that’s not as bad as it sounds? Let’s take a look at some highlights:

Okay, is this really a trillion dollar tax hike? Reports say that it will save $9 trillion.

There is no rate reduction whatsoever in this plan. It’s a set of tax hikes, plain and simple.

But clearly, taxes and tax reform are complicated. Any chance we can address that?

There is no tax reform in this plan. The plan would undermine prospects for long-term tax reform.

A 600-page proposal clearly doesn’t happen without some planning. Tom Coburn must have had a plan. What was it?

It’s now clear Senator Coburn’s plan all along was a trillion dollar tax hike. Senator Coburn pretended to care about ethanol (until he was forced to admit he supported the ethanol mandate, the cause of 98% of government-induced ethanol production). In reality, he wanted to lay the groundwork for GOP support of this trillion dollar tax hike plan.

Tom Coburn has a reputation for being a staunch conservative. Does he live up to that reputation?

The Coburn trillion dollar tax hike is far outside the mainstream of the conservative movement, as well as where Congressional Republicans are.

Is there anything good about Coburn’s proposal?

ATR has long called for a “tax me more” checkoff for limousine liberals who complain that their taxes aren’t high enough. Rather than hiking taxes on everyone, these rich liberals should be able to pay more voluntarily to assuage their left-wing guilt. The Coburn plan does have this, providing a silver lining to an otherwise cloudy forecast for taxpayers.

And you probably thought ATR couldn’t say anything nice about the plan.

Senator Tom Coburn Proposes Trillion Dollar Tax Hike Plan [ATR]

Who Is Bizarro Grover Norquist?

If you’ve been keeping up with things, you’ve noticed that Americans for Tax Reform founder and president Grover Norquist is everywhere. He’s like some sort of omnipresent Swedish tax assassin superhero (it helps having an active blog and Twittertter.com/#!/GroverNorquist”>accounts).

He’s getting Presidential candidates to sign his Taxpayer Protection Pledge; he’s preparing for inevitable destruction of our nation’s capital; he’s going on the Colbert Report to make grandmothers everywhere shake in their orthopedic shoes.

This PR assault has resulted in a flurry of blog posts from us (okay, just me) on GN’s wily ways, mostly because we admire said wiliness, political tenacity and overt sarcasm and sass. However, a question has now been asked by Joseph Thorndike that we had not previously considered Who is the anti-Grover Norquist? That is, who is the progressive stalwart on tax policy? Presumably someone who would argue that we need to always raise taxes in every instance possible and any time taxes are cut, a corresponding elimination of tax expenditures would occur. Okay, maybe I’m being a tad literal. Anyway, Thorndike gives it a shot:

During the NPR interview, I was asked if I could think of a left-leaning counterpart to Norquist. I was stumped. A bunch of people came to mind, notably Bob McIntyre at Citizens for Tax Justice and Bob Greenstein at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. But neither seemed to fit the bill very well. Sure, McIntyre and Greenstein have been important and highly influential voices for progressive tax policy. But neither has reshaped political debate in Norquistian fashion.

In my opinion this is an futile exercise since the bizarro version of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge would be the political equivalent of guzzling arsenic. Americans don’t like taxes, so there’s virtually nothing to be gained by taking the 180 degree positions of Norquist (again, in their purest form). Similarly, the organization “Americans for Tax Reform” sounds quite sensible. An organization named “Americans for Keeping This God-awful Fuckshow of a Tax System the Way It Is” on the other hand, is less attractive.

Thorndike then posits that guys like McIntyre and Greenstein are “entirely too knowledgeable when it comes to tax policy to ever be compared to Norquist.” Fine. So Grover isn’t as tax wonky as those other guys. Policy wonks typically don’t make good political tacticians and certainly don’t make for good politicians. Wonks look at actual numbers, facts and statistics to make conclusions. Lots of politicians struggle with English. Norquist is acutely aware of this and relies on speaking to them in terms they can understand, such as, “You raise taxes and I’ll end your political career.” Politicians can understand that. They cannot understand Howard Gleckman.

So bizarro Grover Norquist, if you’re out there, please make yourself known. Every (super)man needs a nemesis.

Not Grover: Who’s the Progressive Counterpart to Norquist? [Joseph Thorndike]

Grover Norquist Is Adequately Prepared for Anyone Who Might Try to Burn Washington, D.C. to the Ground

In case you haven’t been paying attention, GOP Taskmaster Grover Norquist takes his Taxpayer Protection Pledge very seriously. So serious in fact that not even a conservative stalwart like Tom Coburn has come under repeated attacks from Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform. So serious that not even our grandmothers’ lives will be spared were terrorists to demand that we raise taxes 1% on the highest earners.

Norquist’s steadfastness has managed to get under a lot of people’s skin including people who thinks he’s a little cuckoo, Democrats and even some guy at Deloitte.

This, understandably, has made Norquist a little paranoid. If someone were able to infiltrate ATR HQ with an army of ninjas, collect all the signed pledges and throw them into an incinerator, how could he continue holding the entire Republican party by their flag-wrapped testes? There would be no tangible proof that these sacred documents were, in fact, signed in front of two witnesses (as is required). Worry not, fiscally frugal readers, Grover is far too smart for that. As the Washington Post reports, GN has taken the necessary precautions to avoid such a catastrophe:

“I keep the originals in a [secret] vault, in case D.C. burns down,” said Norquist, referring to the pledge that his organization asks politicians to sign, vowing to “oppose any and all efforts” to raise taxes. “When someone takes the pledge, you don’t want it tampered with; you don’t want it destroyed.”

So bring your sissy Democrat political operatives, your ink bombs, your pledge-sniffing dogs. You’ll have to do nothing less than sic Jack Bauer on Grover if you want to get your mitts on those pledges. And even if you do, don’t think your grandmother won’t pay the price.

Grover Norquist, the anti-tax enforcer behind the scenes of the debt debate [WaPo]

Mitt Romney Unable to Resist the Siren’s Call That Is the Taxpayer Protection Pledge

In a political move akin to etching your name in to the conservative, low government Book of Life, GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney has signed the Grover Norquist’s sacred Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

It’s not a terribly surprising move, as this play will cater to the tax-hating Tea Party crowd as well as the tax-hating-rich-people-not-so-unlike-Mitt Romney crowd.

“By signing the Pledge, Governor Romney keeps the faith of the American taxpayer by taking tax hikes off the table as President,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “Politicians in Washington should be focused on reducing government spending.”

Of course what this move also does is protect Romney from any sternly worded letters or other communication from Americans for Tax Reform that would place him the squarely in the camp of that taxpayer Judas, Tom Coburn. Regardless of some people having the audacity to deem the Pledge meaningless.

[via ATR]

Lawrence O’Donnell Is Practically Giddy Over Ethanol Tax Credit Repeal, Suggests That ATR’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge is Meaningless

This aired last last week after the Senate voted to repeal tax credits for the ethanol industry and you tell that LO’D can barely contain his glee over the result.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

ATR is characterizing this as a three-way makeout session between Coburn, O’Donnell and Reich so they do appear be getting a tad defensive.

[via ATR]

If You Thought Grover Norquist Was Done with Tom Coburn Just Because He Got Some Republicans to Vote for the Ethanol Tax Credit Repeal, You’d Be Wrong

As we’ve mentioned, the scourge of tax policy pragmatism, Grover Norquist, has been battling anyone that utters a word about raising taxes or eliminating tax credits without corresponding tax cuts. His main nemesis in this battle has been Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, who was a member of the Gang of Six until he was determined the gang couldn’t get jack squat accomplished.

Today, a vote was held in the Senate that repealed the tax credits for ethanol, something that Coburn has been advocating strongly to his GOP colleagues. The idea has been floated that many Republicans who signed Americans for Tax Reform’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge would be violating said pledge by voting for the repeal, and thus incur the wrath of Grover & Co. Yesterday, Norquist insisted that the vote for the repeal isn’t a pledge violation because Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) has an estate tax repeal waiting in the wings that would allow these Republicans to atone for their sins and thus making Coburn a loser again:

“Coburn tried. He failed. I’m sure he’ll try again,” Norquist told The Hill, asserting that Coburn had tried to trick his colleagues into voting for a tax increase. “We checkmated him.”

As we said Coburn did try again and now that the ethanol tax credit repeal has passed, Norquist will be counting on those senators wash away their ‘impure thoughts’ with a vote on DeMint’s amendment and allowing he and ATR to prevail once again, like the Roadrunner over Wile E. Coyote or Ronald Reagan over Communism.

He added that he had commitments from Senate GOP leadership to not agree to a deal with what he calls a net tax increase: higher rates or ending tax expenditures without an offset.

“Coburn’s going to be out in the cold by his lonesome,” Norquist said.

Senate kills off ethanol tax credits in possible break with tax pledge [E2 Wire]
Norquist denies he has lost momentum in tax scrap [On the Money]

If You Ever Attend a Meeting Run by Grover Norquist, Know That Your Coffee and Bagel Consumption Will Be Tracked

Bloomberg has a profile of Americans Tax Refund Founder and spending hatchet-man Grover Norquist out today and if you’re not familiar with the man or his mission, you’d think he was the scariest Swede since snark and sass into otherwise dry debates but others don’t see it that way.

Exhibit 1: Former Senator Alan Simpson, is quoted as saying, “If you are in thrall to Grover Norquist,” the Wyoming Republican who co-led the debt panel said he told the group in February, “this country hasn’t got a prayer.”

Exhibit 2: Rep. Chris Van Hollen’s (D-MD) assessment:

“Until Republicans are more afraid of the deficit than they are of Grover Norquist, we’re going to have a problem,” said Representative Christopher Van Hollen of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Budget Committee.

And I suppose, if you are a Democrat, a relatively pragmatic Republican or a cancer survivor (or a nonprofit that fights cancer) Grover could be pretty scary. He doesn’t take too kindly to those in the GOP who want to raise taxes or eliminate reductions or credits that aren’t matched with further reductions in taxes. You can just ask Tom Coburn:

Norquist has attacked Senator Tom Coburn, a onetime member of the Gang of Six, because the Oklahoma Republican raised the possibility of eliminating tax breaks. Norquist said if Coburn agreed to a tax increase “he was elected on a lie.”

Now, based on that, you may get the impression that Norquist is simply a bearded Sarah Palin but you’d be wrong. Bloomberg reports that he while he does sit on the board of the NRA, he also is an adviser to GOProud and that his wife is a Kuwaiti-born Muslim.

But what may make Grover so scary-good at holding people’s feet to the fire is his attention to detail. To be a tax and fiscal wonk, you kinda need to be obe made that way but Bloomberg gives us the impression that his wonkiness transcends simple Federal government matters:

Norquist, who peppers his conversation with comic voices, Chekhov quotes and references to the movie “Grease,” is big on numbers. He knows what year his meeting reached an average of 80 people and when it grew to 100. He keeps charts on how much coffee and how many bagels are consumed, and his staff counts the attendees every 15 minutes so he can graph the flow.

So for any aspiring Grovers or Grovettes out there, this is what you’re emulating. Best start with the simple stuff.

No-Tax ‘Zealot’ Norquist Emerges as Barrier to U.S. Debt Deal [Bloomberg]

Legislation We Can All Get Behind: The BEER Act

Tax assassin Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform have thrown their support behind some important legislation that was introduced to mark American Craft Brew Week – The Brewer’s Employment and Excise Relief Act of 2011 or BEER Act.

While we’re certain that Grover & Co. regularly quaff craft brews, ATR’s support is also grounded in fiscal policy. Here’s Grover in his letter to Senators Mike Crapo (R-WY) and John Kerry (D-MA), the sponsors of the bill:

The BEER Act would reduce from $7 to $3.50 the tax paid per barrel on the first 60,000 barrels produced by small brewers. This is estimated to generate $19.9 million in capital for small beer producers, an enormous resource to promote job growth in the craft brewing industry.

Currently, brewers large and small pay the same tax on any production over 60,000 barrels. Set at an astounding $18-a-barrel tax, this represents a crushing weight on small brewers. This onerous tax penalizes production and disincentivizes industry growth, unnecessarily handicapping an industry that provides 100,000 jobs in the United States alone.

Your bill addresses this discrepancy by lowering the excise tax from $18 to $16 per barrel for production from 60,000 barrels up to 2 million barrels. This will provide an estimated $27.1 million for craft brewers to create jobs and spur economic growth.

Now, you don’t have to be a craft brew fan (like me) and you don’t have live in a state that produces many of these craft brews (like me) to get behind something as common sense as this. Unless, of course, all you drink is Bud Light™, which just means you’re a loser with no taste.

Cheers! ATR Supports the BEER Act [ATR]

ATR to Senators: Sign the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act of 2011 at Your Own Peril

Free market Norseman Grover Norquist sent a letter to “Senators” today, urging them to vote against the cleverly titled Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act of 2011. And for anyone that has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, let it be known that you’ll be in direct violation of said pledge if you also sign the CBOTLA2011. This means you can expect ATR hellfire – in the form of sternly-worded letters – to rain upon you. If you think they’re bullshiting, just ask Tom Coburn what happens with you mess with the (Viking) horns.

From GN’s latest correspondence:

Voting for the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act of 2011 is a violation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Senate Democrats advocating for this legislation predicate their arguments on three false suppositions:

1. Taxing oil companies will bring down the price of gas
2. Washington needs more money
3. Oil and natural gas producers are the recipients of government subsidies

None of these presumptions are true.

Coinciding with the recent rise in gas prices were Democrat calls to raise taxes on America’s oil and natural gas producers—some of this country’s finest job creators. This line of reasoning is illogical. Raising the cost of producing crude oil will necessarily raise the price of gasoline.

As many Americans now understand, this country doesn’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem. Democrats are defaming oil and natural gas companies—with stunts like last week’s Senate Finance hearing—because they see these successful businesses as a way to fund a bloated federal government. President Obama’s Party has demonstrated no interest in seriously reducing spending.

So if you want to be associated with that, Senators (and I suspect The Gipper would be very disappointed), go ahead and sign CBOTLA2011. But you’re on notice.

Senate Energy Tax Hike Vote is a Taxpayer Protection Pledge Violation [ATR]

Grover Norquist Advises Obama on How to Win Texas in 2012, Reaffirms Ability to Get Sassy

As we’ve noted before, you’d be wrong if you thought Ronald Reagan worshipper and ATR President Grover Norquist and his merry band of anti-tax orcs weren’t capable of a pinch of sass:

Obama should focus on winning the electoral votes of Texas. He could highlight his ongoing efforts to destroy the oil and gas industry through taxation and regulation. Also his hostility to the Second Amendment. And spending binges and tax hikes. The small-minded will not see the opportunity for Obama in Texas, but with enough money spent in the state and not frittered away in Virginia and Florida good things can happen for America.

Or a punch of sass.

[via Politico via ATR]

ATR: SAVEGO Is a No-go

If you’re like us, you’re strangely fascinated by the Americans for Tax Reform and their tax intolerant ways. ATR President Grover Norquist and his band of tax annihilating orcs have battled to get as many signatures on their taxpayer protection pledge as possible and will strike down – often through sternly-worded letter – anyone who dares break that pledge.

Because tax and budgetary policy can be a tricky game, sometimes compromises get floated out there so Democrats and Republicans might find common ground. This common ground typically consists of both sides giving a few things up and agreeing to live with a few things that aren’t ideal.

A recent compromise over the debt-ceiling debate known as SAVEGO was recently passed around some budget wonks and ATR is going on record that any taxpayer protection pledgers best not give it a second look:

ATR is warning that Republicans would be violating their Taxpayer Protection Pledge if they sign on to the deal. SAVEGO as proposed would count tax earmarks as “spending” in the tax code. ATR does not view tax breaks as a type of spending and insists that eliminating them must be accompanied by tax cuts.

SAVEGO would put in place a trigger that, if reached, would cause across-the-board spending cuts or slashing tax breaks.

“Support for a net tax increase trigger is a clear Pledge violation,” ATR Tax Policy Director Ryan Ellis told The Hill Thursday. “A vote for this is a vote for automatic net tax increases.”

“The second clause of the Pledge says that signers will oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar-for-dollar by cutting tax rates. The SAVEGO plan is in direct violation of the Pledge,” he added.

Americans for Tax Reform: SAVEGO violates tax pledge [The Hill]

Grover Norquist Knows What It Will Take to Enact Real Tax Reform

Nemesis of all-things-taxation Grover Norquist believes that there can be good changes to our tax system (lower rates, DUH!). But seriously, as Ronald Reagan as his witness, this is really simple,

“A lot of good tax changes are going to require a different president and a different Senate.” So at the very least, you’ll have to wait two years. That’s all. [The Hill]

Did the Georgia Tea Party Call Grover Norquist a Socialist?

Maybe! As you know, Grover Norquist is the President of Americans For Tax Reform and has a staunch record of opposing any legislation – federal or state – that increases taxes and evokes Ronald Reagan (who hated taxes, dontchaknow) in every possible context, no matter how irrelevant. Grover and ATR are willing to get into a tussle (usually by sternly-worded letter) with whomever thinks that raising taxes will amount to anything positive (because that’s impossible). From the Illinois legislature to the American Lung Association to Lance Armstrong, if you give the slightest impression that higher taxes are a good idea, you can expect Grover & Co. to get Viking on your ass.


However, we learned this morning that in ATR’s most recent spat with the Georgia Legislature over that state’s tax overhaul bill, it appears that Grover has been out-Grovered by the Georgia Tea Party. You see, GN has informed the Georgia pols that he won’t give them any shit for supporting HB 387 after opposing their initial efforts.

This however, did not sit well with the GTP (our emphasis):

”One can not just look at the tax rate cut, one has to look at the deductions/exemptions that are slashed and, in many cases, removed in this bill. Taxes will be raised for some and will be cut for others. In other words, this bill re-distributes wealth.

Okay, so…WHOA. Maybe we’re reading too much into this but take a gander at “socialism” and tell us what you think. So far there doesn’t appear to be a response over at ATR but this sort of aggression will likely elicit some sort of a response.

Your morning jolt: Grover Norquist, tea party split on tax overhaul [AJC via Joseph Thorndike]

Senator Tom Coburn Would Like ATR to Back Off a Bit

“Rather than demanding that Senate conservatives violate their consciences and support distortions in the tax code that increase spending and maintain Washington’s power over taxpayer’s lives, your organization should assist our efforts. Calling for the elimination of tax earmarks without qualifications would be a good start,” Coburn wrote. “Continuing to issue blanket defenses of all tax expenditures is a profoundly misguided embrace of progressive, activist government and a strategy for tax complexity, tax deferment, excessive spending and unsustainable deficits.” [The Hill]

The Phoenix Coyotes Do Not Meet Americans for Tax Reform’s Definition of a ‘Core Function’

Mostly because part of businessman Matthew Hulsizer’s offer to keep the team in Arizona is that the city of Glendale would be required to subsidize the deal. Grover Norquist & Co. are NOT down with this, “Last November voters sent a clear message that they want government to stop frivolous spending and instead focus on core functions. ATR will continue to educate our membership as to which lawmakers received that message and which appear to have not. Gone are the days when taxpayers are willing or able to foot the bill for government spending on things like Woodstock museums, cowboy poetry festivals, bridges to nowhere, and NPR. I doubt anyone’s definition of core functions includes subsidizing the millionaire’s purchase of a hockey team.” [ATR]

Apparently Lance Armstrong (aka ‘an annoying little man in tights’) Retired from Cycling to Lobby for Higher Taxes

I will not apologize for loving the snark coming from Americans for Tax Reform today:

California is one of the most heavily taxed jurisdictions in the world. If that weren’t bad enough, for the next few months Golden State residents will have to deal with an annoying little man in tights pedaling around the state to stump for even higher taxes. Lance Armstrong, who recently retired from professional cycling to lobby full time for higher taxes, was in Los Angeles earlier this week for a press event with California state Senator Don Perata to announce the launch of a campaign to raise the state tobacco tax.

I have to give credit to ATR, they are nothing if not consistent. After all, they are lumping in a cancer survivor with a cancer-fighting nonprofit for being lovers of higher taxes on cigarettes.

Americans for Tax Reform Is Annoyed with the ‘Tax-loving American Lung Association’

Because it’s pretty clear that the American Lung Association’s mission is to ensure everyone is paying higher taxes:

Predictably, the tax-loving American Lung Association is pushing for a massive 75 percent increase in Maine’s cigarette tax. They just think it’s the cat’s meow, curing all diseases while raising a boatload of money for state government to spend on pro-utopia policies.

Of course, that’s not how these things tend to work themselves out. For starters, Maine desperately needs jobs. An excise tax increase of this magnitude certainly will not deliver. Convenience stores count on tobacco products for roughly one-third of their sales. Government driving up the cost of cigarettes won’t help maintain payroll.

That’s because higher taxes will only further fuel migration to New Hampshire, where consumers will be able to save over $12 per carton of cigarettes. New Hampshire also levies no sales or personal income taxes. To have any hope of competing with its neighbor, any talk of tax increases must be completely off the table.

So taxes on cigarettes are off the table while cancer, chemotherapy, pain, suffering and shortened life spans are back on. Got it.

Illinois Legislature Considering a Slightly Less Huge Tax Increase

Last Friday, we were surprised to learn that those little anti-tax scamps over at Americans for Tax Reform have a sense of humor when they sarcastically gave the Illinois legislature credit for keeping the state’s proposed income tax increase below 80%.

Well, with today’s report that the IL pols have reconsidered their stance on that proposal, Grover Norquist and Co. are probably tickled pink:

The Illinois legislature moved a step closer Tuesday to passing its first tax-rate increase in nearly two decades to dig the state out of a $13 billion budget hole despite steep opposition from Republicans.

Tuesday afternoon, the House Revenue and Finance committee passed a scaled back version of a tax-increase proposal that was struck last week by leaders of the Democratically controlled legislature and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, also a Democrat.

Under the current version of the bill, the individual income-tax rate would jump to 5%, from the current 3%, a 67% increase. That is more conservative than last week’s proposed 5.25% rate, a 75% increase.

No reaction from ATR yet but we’re hoping for more GOP comedy relief.

Illinois House Panel Passes Tax Increase [WSJ]

You’d Be Wrong If You Thought Americans for Tax Reform Were a Bunch of Humorless Killjoys

For all we know, ATR was behind the video from earlier today and then we found this from last night:

Great Night for Illinois Taxpayers!

Illinois Democrats were dead-set on raising the state’s personal income tax by a whopping 83 percent. But in a stunning and miraculous turn of events, they decided to go easy on their already mightily-struggling constituents. In a deal reportedly reached tonight, Gov. Pat Quinn and legislative leadership decided to with a mere 75 percent income tax increase, coupled with a modest 102 percent cigarette tax hike that will gently nudge countless jobs across state lines and steal a disproportionate amount of impoverished Illinoisans’ income with a wink and a smile.

We like what the author, Josh Culling, did there but the only problem is that he felt it necessary to brief readers with the following, “The above, of course, is laced with sarcasm and disappointment.” OH THANKS! We really thought we were on a “Rahm for Mayor” site for a minute there.