To quote former President George H. W. Bush, “Who the hell is Grover Norquist, anyway?”
President Bush knows very well who Grover Norquist is, of course. President Bush took Grover’s “pledge” to not raise taxes, then broke it. Some people say that’s why President Bush wasn’t re-elected. Others say pledge-schmedge, once Bill Clinton played the saxophone on The Arsenio Hall Show, that election was over (Clinton had sunglasses on, after all).
No, President Bush the Elder was asking the question about Grover Norquist to say, “Grover Norquist is neither an elected official nor a party leader, so how come he steers fiscal policy for the Republican party?”
And that is a good question, more so since the re-election of Barack Obama. Part of the self-reflecting and self-flagellating Republicans have recently undergone involves the pledge created by Grover Norquist and his firm, Americans for Tax Reform. The pledge is to oppose any efforts to increase taxes, “as a matter of principle.”
Republicans running for office have been taking the pledge since the late 1980s. During the 2012 election cycle, 238 out of 242 congressman signed the pledge, and 41 out of 47 senators signed it. Norquist’s dogma makes Republican legislators unable to compromise on most budget issues.
But some of that is changing. President Bush isn’t the only one questioning the power of Norquist. Since President Obama’s re-election, a few high-profile Republicans have indicated their willingness to break the pledge. More significantly, they’re all but calling it a dumb idea to begin with.
Read more in the Who2 biography of Grover Norquist, which includes bonus links to more resources.
(Photos from WENN.)