Taxpayer Protection Pledge

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 […]

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 […]

Chuck Schumer Has Been Waiting Out This Bad Marriage a While

As more and more Republican lawmakers say they are willing to break the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, Chuckles can't help but think that the time has come: “For three decades a right-wing lobbyist has exercised a stranglehold on Republican lawmakers,” Schumer said on the floor Tuesday. “Today one Republican after another have been rebuking this lobbyist. […]

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 […]

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.”


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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.

Grover Norquist: 9-9-9 Plan Is ‘Tapeworms in Your Tummy’

The ‘Godfather of Tax Policy’ explains his beef (pepperoni, sausage, meatball) with his fellow Godfather’s tax plan.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

[via ATR, Earlier]

Grover Norquist Needs His Hands Free When Enforcing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge

You know, in case he needs to shake the crap out of one of your tax-loving grandmothers.


Of course even political operatives aren’t immune to technological pitfalls:

[@DrTempitope via @GroverNorquist]

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]

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]

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.

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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]

Deloitte Tax Expert Makes Statement That He’s Likely to Regret

“If there are Republicans who break with Grover Norquist’s position, I think that’s an important thing,” said Clint Stretch, managing principal of tax policy at Deloitte Tax LLP in Washington.

“I think it signals a willingness on their part to have the fight with him over whether every tax expenditure is a legitimate reduction in effective tax rate, or whether there are some that should be regarded the way they regard spending programs.” [Bloomberg, Earlier, Earlier]

Democrats Ask Republicans to Blow Off Grover Norquist

Top Republican lawmakers have said that increasing revenues was the one approach off the table when it comes to deficit reduction. But Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and 108 other House Democrats, in a letter dated Monday, said that position jeopardized the chances for a bipartisan agreement.

“Revenues must be a component of addressing our deficit and debt problems,” the Democrats wrote to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). “Solving our fiscal problems with spending cuts alone would be devastating to our economy, to the middle class, and to vulnerable populations like seniors and low-income families.” [The Hill]

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]