I asked Santa for an irony buffet, and he apparently delivered. Grover Norquist, whose most notable accomplishment has been getting a large number of Republican legislators to sign a pledge committing them to never raise taxes, under any circumstances, has a new gripe with the President: Obama is apparently not negotiating.
Of course, Obama has been negotiating. But for the purists in the GOP and the Tea Party, nothing short of an absolute concession will suffice. There’s also a little hurdle keeping the GOP from pursuing the negotiation that Norquist says he wants. That hurdle is Grover Norquist.
Norquist’s entire career is quite literally based on the principle that Republicans cannot compromise on raising taxes under any circumstances. If a Republican even hints that they could negotiate the tax issue, Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform begin laying the groundwork for a primary challenge.
There’s another problem with Norquist’s complaint, of course: Obama has been willing to negotiate on the budget, perhaps to a fault. Just a week ago, the president was ready to raise the income threshold for tax rate increases to $400,000, and to cut Social Security benefits in order to make a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff. That “grand bargain” never got off the ground, however, as Boehner instead chose to pursue his “Plan B,” a right-wing proposal that was nonetheless killed by congressional Republicans. Their reason? Plan B would raise tax rates on incomes over $1 million, a violation of — you guessed it — Grover Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge.
When Norquist talks about wanting cameras in the negotiating room, it can’t be to see Obama not negotiating, since Obama clearly is. More likely, he wants cameras in there to see which of his bought-and-paid-for GOP politicians isn’t toeing the bought-and-paid-for line.
But the hold that people like Norquist and the Koch brothers have over politicians is slipping. Some of them who signed the pledge are saying “that was then, this is now, and if you have to launch attack ads on me during the next cycle, then do it.”