The Grover Norquist Pledge

Image courtesy of Tina Phillips/

Image courtesy of Tina Phillips/

Boy, those Democrats sure know how to frame a talking point. They are currently up in arms over the so-called “Grover Norquist pledge to not raise taxes”. So many things wrong with this attack, so little time.

Grover Norquist did not elect any of the Congressmen who signed the pledge, nor does he have the ability to vote them out of office. In the end analysis, each person who signed the pledge owes his seat to his constituents. If those constituents are unhappy with those who signed the oath, they have various avenues of redress. They can elect someone else instead at the next election, they can attempt to have their representative charged with malfeasance, or they can lobby for a recall election. If the constituents are hanging tight, then the Democrats really have no basis for complaint.

I don’t understand why raising taxes is the go-to first play, anyway. It makes no logical sense that we raise taxes now and cut spending later. Why are spending cuts not even on the table yet? As much as President Obama campaigned on raising taxes on the rich/wealthy/Űberwealthy/1%/2%/name-your-greedy-selfish-pig-of-the-day, he also campaigned on reducing spending by $2.50 dollars for every $1 increase in taxes.

Leaving aside the logical absurdity of the President’s proposal to cut spending by raising taxes, there is no reason that any proposed spending cuts cannot be implemented prior to any tax increase. Instead of the Democrats getting all hot and bothered about the pledge that Republicans signed, why don’t they just go about the business of beginning their cuts?

“But we won!” they whine. “Get used to it. Through his landslide win, President Obama has a mandate to raise taxes.”

Seriously. They talk like this. What I recall as a win by a few percentage points has now been transmogrified into a “landslide”, with a “mandate” to boot. However, let’s get back to the issue at hand. No matter the mandate, last I heard, President Obama did not possess the authority to pass even one piece of legislation. That honor is reserved to the ladies and gentlemen who comprise our Congress. And if they sign a pledge to not raise taxes, President Obama is in no position to do anything about it but complain to the voters.

There may be a reason that President Obama was returned to office along with a Republican majority in the House of Representatives. The stalemate that has persisted for the past four years may be just the ticket for a majority of Americans. Perhaps many people have been anxiously awaiting the coming of that looming fiscal cliff, and can’t wait to jump over it. Maybe President Obama was re-elected on the basis of his social programs, not his fiscal policy.

Whatever the reasons for the results of the election that we just went through, the voters have spoken, and they have not turned the pledgers out of office wholesale. Win or not, the Obama supporters must live with that.

Besides, as everyone who has not spent the last few months under a rock knows, raising the taxes on the wealthy is a symbolic gesture only. Congress would have to raise taxes on all taxpayers in order to have a significant effect on the yearly deficit, let alone the ever-mounting debt.

There will be no reduction in either the debt or the deficit until spending is brought under control. The Democrats know that; the Republicans know that. All of the bother about the Grover Norquist pledge is just so much hot air, meant to distract voters from the real issue: the United States government is spending too much money. Way too much money. So much more money than is realistic that everyone in America will be feeling the pinch when those in power finally scale back the spending to a rate that is sustainable.

The biggest shame of all is that all of this time, money, and energy have been spent on cosmetics. Even if, through the artifice of this massive p.r. campaign, the Democrats manage to shame the Republicans into raising the only taxes that the Democrats will allow to be raised, it will make no difference in the long run. (And by long run, I mean a month or so, at most).

So why do they do all this sound and fury, signifying nothing? Because it serves both sides equally well: the bickering serves to distract voters from realizing that we are in a world of hurt, and it will take actual belt-tightening, maybe even sacrificing some of our government goodies, to retrain the American psyche from take-take-take to providing for ourselves.

And with the state that some of the rest of the world is in, we should be heartily ashamed of ourselves for gorging while others—especially some of those whom we proclaim to be so concerned about—suffer and starve.

The Grover Norquist pledge is not the problem, and it is certainly not the answer. It is merely a way to deflect attention. And it is doing its job Űber well.


Image courtesy of digitalart/

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Filed under Critical Thinking, Politics

2 responses to “The Grover Norquist Pledge

  1. Seems to me that the Dems and BHO think he was elected King- not President. Do it His way, or hit the highway. And they seem to think His way is the Only way.
    Why is no one talking about the power grab BHO has included: that He can raise the debt limit without asking that pesky congress for permission? There was such a bruhaha the last time the debt limit was reached, wouldn’t be much easier if His Royal Highness could manage that little thing himself? No one is discussing what happens if nobody will lend money to the USA at any price, regardless of the debt limit. And that is coming sooner than I would wish.
    We don’t have a taxing problem, we have a spending problem. Folks I know that spent the way the government has been doing are bankrupt or homeless or both. Perhaps the fiscal cliff is just the thing to jerk America by her boot straps and STAND UP! We, the People do not need a King.

  2. OG

    it is genuinely a pleasure to have found a reasonable and thoughtful voice on the other side of the great ideological divide. I’m in total agreement, both sides would rather hide behind the rhetorical bickering than speak plainly about reality.

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