Posts Tagged ‘Grover Norquist’

Super Lobbyist Norquist is Talk of the Town

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012 by Geoffrey Lyons

GROVER NORQUIST, founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform and one of the most influential lobbyists in Washington, is receiving a deluge of press. This is most broadly because fear of a fiscal cliff is revitalizing debate around the feasibility of Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which commits signatories to “oppose any and all efforts” to raise taxes and curb deductions. 238 current House members and 41 Senators have signed the pledge.

But it’s also because of public renunciations by a few notable signatories – Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) and Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga), and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) – all of whom have either hinted at or openly committed to reneging. This has provoked a torrent of speculation about the future of Norquist’s clout, mixed with some intra-party mudslinging in which Norquist himself has played no small part. (See the Atlantic’s “Timeline of GOP Snubs of the No-Tax-Raise-Pledge”).

Finally, Warren Buffet’s provocative Op-ed in the New York Times on Sunday opened with this:

“Suppose that an investor you admire and trust comes to you with an investment idea. ‘This is a good one,’ he says enthusiastically. ‘I’m in it, and I think you should be, too.’ Would your reply possibly be this? ‘Well, it all depends on what my tax rate will be on the gain you’re saying we’re going to make. If the taxes are too high, I would rather leave the money in my savings account, earning a quarter of 1 percent.’ Only in Grover Norquist’s imagination does such a response exist.” (Norquist responded by calling this argument “silly”)

Here’s what other notable voices are saying:

“So far, the renunciations of Grover Norquist’s “Taxpayer Protection Pledge”amount to a trickle, not a flood. But we’re seeing the first signs in years that on the question of taxation — one of the fundamental responsibilities of government — the GOP may be starting to recover its senses.” – Washington Post (Eugene Robinson)

“I think Republican leaders who can find a sensible, rational way to defend a break in the pledge stand plenty to gain. After all, their oaths of office were made to their country. They should do what they deem fiscally sound for their constituents, not make decisions based on fear of a bespectacled man who has called Republicans who vote for a tax increase “rat heads in a Coke bottle.” – Washington Post (Jenna McGregor)

“By any standard other than the absurdly high one he has set himself, though, Mr Norquist continues to dominate Washington’s tax debate. Almost all revenue-raising proposals hinge on eliminating deductions, rather than raising marginal rates. If Mr Obama does succeed in raising the income-tax rate for the richest, it will have taken him two elections and all manner of fiscal face-offs and crises to get his way—and success is still far from assured. Even scrapping an economically nonsensical subsidy for ethanol, it seems, is still a highly controversial move. Grover is not over yet.” – The Economist

“This is where Mr. Norquist can give some ground. If taxes are going up anyway because the Bush rates expire, and Republicans can stop them from going up as much as they otherwise would, then pledge-takers deserve some credit for that. Mr. Norquist says it violates his pledge to eliminate deductions without lowering rates, but at the current economic and political moment it is also a service if Republicans prevent tax rates from going up. Speaker John Boehner deserves some leeway to try to mitigate the damage by negotiating a larger tax reform.” –  The Wall Street Journal

Movie Review: “Casino Jack and the United States of Money”

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010 by Drew

My favorite part of the new documentary film about lobbying, “Casino Jack and the United States of Money” occurs in the first half hour of the film. It is a brief clip of archival footage used to show how Jack Abramoff—the former lobbyist whose greed and hubris led to his conviction for fraud and corruption in 2006—grew out of the same “radical” Republican student movement of the 70s and 80s that spawned Grover Norquist and Karl Rove. The clip is of Rove, looking about 14 years old, talking to a reporter about the ascendant College Republicans. It’s fascinating not so much because of what Rove is saying, but because in the clip Rove has hair, a lot of it, shaped in what today would be described as an emo-style haircut. It is glorious, and well worth the price of admission.

Whether the rest of the film is worth watching is up for debate. The film’s director, Alex Gibney (whose “Taxi to the Dark Side” won the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2008) portrays Abramoff as a thick-necked charmer who, as chairman of the College Republican National Committee, developed a paranoid anti-communist worldview that eventually led to his staging of a meeting of rebel leaders in Angola. After leaving politics for a stint in Hollywood (where he produced an anti-communist action film starring Dolph Lundgren called “Red Scorpion”, clips of which rival the one of Rove for awesomeness) Abramoff wound up in Washington working as a lobbyist. The rest is history.

Gibney chronicles Abramoff’s criminal activities in detail, and they’re familiar enough that I don’t need to summarize them here. Through archival footage and compelling interviews with Tom DeLay, Neil Volz and Bob Ney, Gibney deftly explains what Abramoff’s crimes were and how he went about committing them. But though this movie is ostensibly about Abramoff and his shenanigans, it’s actually an attempt to portray the entire lobbying system as hopelessly corrupt. As anti-lobbying propaganda, it pretty much works. The problem is, as those in and around K Street know, lobbying isn’t the innately evil industry Gibney tries to make it out to be. Yes, it has problems; so does every other industry. But as we’ve shown before on the Lobby Blog, there are “good” lobbyists too. Unfortunately, most viewers ofCasino Jack and the United States of Money probably won’t ever hear their side of the story.

Watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TQXjV3g-Lc.

Casino Jack and the United States of Money is playing at the E Street Cinema and Bethesda Row Cinema.