Grover Norquist is a 55-year-old, lightly bearded, chubby-faced, bespectacled, lobbyist with a Harvard MBA and an unusually keen sense of humor. However, his control of elected officials is no laughing matter. He is the most powerful Republican in Washington D.C. He is significantly more focused, cleverer, and more dangerous than his fellow conservative lobbyists Karl Rove and Dick Armey. He has labored behind the scenes for three decades to impose his own answer to Ronald Reagan’s silly sound-bite: “government is the problem.” He is systematically crippling government until it is too feeble to interfere with his life. This year, he can push the Federal government off a fiscal cliff!
He quietly manipulates a voting majority of 238 House Republicans and a blocking minority of 39 Senate Republicans, who have signed his Pledge to Taxpayers (see Fig 1). They dutifully follow his orders on taxes and other issues in return for mountains of money, conservative credentials, and Hero awards.
In the budget battles of 2011, his pledge-takers in the House and Senate stonewalled reforms, and accepted a one-year, not-repeatable postponement of fiscal disaster. They increased the legal borrowing limit in exchange for budget cuts and a temporary extension of the Bush tax cuts. Earlier this year, they delivered an ultimatum to the President and to the other members of Congress: either enact their drastic budget reductions and cripple government, or they will deadlock negotiations and let the default alternatives do it for them.
We’re in for a heap-of-hurt unless enough Republicans in the House and Senate repudiate their pledges, throw off Norquist’s shackles, and represent their fellow citizens like responsible individuals. The prospects for wholesale revolt are dim. The November election could make things even worse by putting pledge-taker, Mitt Romney, in the White House.
We will analyze the Pledge to Taxpayers and explore its manipulative and deceptive features. We’ll present a body of evidence that it is a pledge to Grover Norquist and not to taxpayers. We will explain the inducements which persuade rational adults to sign it. We will contrast it to the Congressional Oath of Office which Continue reading