October 2011

Who is Grover Norquist?

By Galen Larson

Who is Grover Norquist? He is a hero to some, but when you delve into what he proposes to do, you may revise your opinion. Norquist proposes to shrink the greatest government in the history of mankind to the size he is – puny.

Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, apparently hates government. “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub,” he has said.

He is a sly one. Like a carnival barker he shouts out all the glorious, exciting and mystifying things we will experience if we support his game. The sad part is, we enthusiastically do.

Norquist repeatedly claims taxes are evil. If you take a moment to collect your thoughts, you realize we cannot run this government without taxes. Our forefathers, immigrants who settled this fruitful land, levied taxes and/or fees to support the infrastructure of cities and towns. They built schools, roads, railroads, sewers, water lines, and fire stations – not to mention law-enforcement agencies and the military.

It was different forms of oppression that drove our forefathers to brave the trip across the seas to a new land where they could make a government led by the people – not the Grover Norquists of the world.

We dutifully go to the polls every two years and cast our vote for the candidate of our choice. As we happily send these lawmakers to office, we expect they will do our bidding. But Norquist has already taken control of some of them. He holds our elected officials hostage with the pledge that he arm-wrestles them into signing.

They take an oath when elected with their hand on the Bible when they are sworn in as our representatives. This is the oath:

I, [elected person’s name], do solemnly swear or affirm that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same. . . . So help me God.”

This oath of office is required by the sixth article of the Constitution, and as provided by Section 2 of the act of May 13, 1884.

Grover Norquist’s pledge?

“I, [some intimidated official], pledge to the taxpayers of the state of [whatever] and to the American people that I will:

“One, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses; and

“Two, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.”

In the 112th Congress, 238 House members, 41 senators, 13 governors and 1249 state legislators have been intimidated into taking this absurd pledge. They have sold their souls for their turn at his pole. If there were that many elected officials that had turned to Communism we would be up in arms. I see no difference in his group. Anyone who willfully tries to bring down this great nation from inside or out is a traitor.

Of course, Norquist and ATR deny that they are trying to bring the country down. But what else can you call it, when you adamantly oppose any tax increases for any purpose – whether to build a school or create a water district? Norquist also opposes health-care reform that would provide coverage for everyone. Easy for him to do that, since he can doubtless afford health care on the $200,000-plus annual salary he makes for his part-time job with ATR.

I am proud to pay taxes and I have been fortunate to have done so from the age of 16 on. I have seen the remarkable results and growth of our nation, the many benefits our taxes have provided. I could list them but you know what they are.

To turn this system over to Grover Norquist to me is no less an act of treason than those deeds perpetrated by the Communists in the 1940s and ’50s.

Let’s not fool ourselves. All the things we need to make a great society have to be paid for, whether through taxes or unregulated corporate fees. As the bumper sticker states, “Freedom isn’t free.”

Norquist is not concerned about us small taxpayers. His supporters are big-monied investors, top CEOs, large corporations, who pay little or nothing in taxes yet get large refunds. Without taxes how are we to support our system? By fees, of course, levied by his group with a small handling charge. One wouldn’t expect them to do it for free!

Galen Larson writes from Montezuma County, Colo.