Open Thread: Farewell to the Great & Powerful Norquist?

(Tom Toles via – click link for full-sized image)
Lee Fang at the Nation, “Grover Norquist’s Budget Is Largely Financed by Just Two Billionaire-Backed Nonprofits“:

…[C]onsider Norquist’s tax pledge and political power another way: that he’s just a proxy for the powerful interest groups that finance him. In the nineties, it was big tobacco that used Norquist’s tax pledge as a cover to lobby lawmakers against cigarette taxes (Norquist still uses an e-mail system donated to him by Altria to send out Tea Party action alerts against tobacco taxes). Now, big PhRMA and other industry groups provide grants to Norquist while his foundation endorses other giveaways, like protectionist support against importing cheaper drugs from Canada and the classification of tax subsidies to refineries as “tax cuts” that must not be cut….

The Center to Protect Patients Rights donated $4,189,000 to Americans for Tax Reform in 2010, 34 percent of the group’s budget that year.

Crossroads GPS donated $4,000,000 to Americans for Tax Reform in 2010, 32.46 percent of the group’s budget that year.

The Center to Protect Patients Rights is the foundation used by the billionaire clique led by the Koch brothers to distribute grants to allied groups. In 2010, wealthy moguls like Steve Bechtel of Bechtel Corporation and Steve Schwarzman of the Blackstone Group met behind closed doors to help lend money to these types of efforts.

Crossroads GPS is the undisclosed group run by Karl Rove. The only known donors are folks like Paul Singer, the “vulture” hedge fund king who benefits enormously from tax strategies like the carried interest loophole. Norquist’s pledge largely benefits billionaires like Singer and Schwarzman, who pay almost nothing in payroll taxes and likely pay a lower rate than their secretaries…

Nice polite WaPo columnist E.J. Dionne, explaining why Democrats should “ignore Norquist, but learn from him“:

… Pretending that Norquist is more powerful than he is allows Republicans to win acclaim they haven’t earned yet. Without making a single substantive concession, they get loads of praise just for saying they are willing to ignore those old pledges to Grover. You can give him props as a public relations genius… But kudos for an openness to compromise should be reserved for Republicans who put forward concrete proposals to raise taxes…

Start by insisting that Social Security and any increase in the retirement age be kept off the table. President Obama’s bargaining hand will be strengthened further if he can tell Republicans that there just aren’t Democratic votes for steep cuts in Medicaid and Medicare. The president’s room for maneuver expands still more if liberals refuse to look at cuts in programs unless Republicans are prepared to raise tax rates on the wealthy…

The only way tax reform might raise enough money to prevent a rate increase, let alone create an opportunity for rate cuts, is to reduce popular deductions (like the one on mortgage interest) so deeply that middle-class Americans would get a tax increase, too. And eliminating or sharply undercutting the deduction for state and local taxes is a bad idea. This only penalizes higher-tax states that try to solve their own social problems — for example, by providing health insurance to their low-income residents.

And all the schemes to eliminate tax expenditures to avoid rate increases have the effect of protecting just one group: Americans with very high incomes. That’s how the math works.

The right thing is to bring back Bill Clinton’s tax rates on the well-off and then have a broad tax reform discussion next year. A similar logic applies to health-care programs, as Jonathan Cohn suggested in the New Republic. Before making big cuts in Medicaid and Medicare, we need to see whether the reforms in the Affordable Care Act can contain medical inflation.

The fiscal cliff creates an enormous opportunity to end an era in which it was never, ever permissible to raise taxes. In the pre-Grover days, conservatives believed passionately in pay-as-you-go government. A tough stand by progressives will make it easier for conservatives to return to the path of fiscal responsibility.

70 replies
  1. 1
    General Stuck says:

    I was curious about what Grover had to say, so I watched a rare episode of Meet the Press streaming this morn. And it was a delight to watch Van Hollen and Jim Cramer back that sniveling rat into the corner and see the flopsweat from a two bit demagogue exposed and reaching the end of his fame. Gregory couldn’t save him, nor plutocrat fluffer Bartiromo

  2. 2
    The Dangerman says:

    I’m not sure who did more damage; Norquist or Howard Jarvis. Both have their own wings in the Asshole Hall of Fame.

    (First pass guess – Jarvis – and probably not that close)

  3. 3
    RobertDSC-iPhone 4 says:

    Only after he’s dead. Preferably in a (Hell)fire.

  4. 4
    dww44 says:

    @General Stuck: Gosh, I so hope you’re right that Grover is reaching the end of his fame. What good has he ever done for humankind?

  5. 5
    BGinCHI says:

    What’s the difference between the era of the Red Scare and the era of the Tax Scare?

    Both built on fear and lies. Both destructive. Both benefit a few to the detriment of the many.

    Terras Rubor Reliquit.

  6. 6
    Violet says:

    @General Stuck: Grover is the man behind the green curtain. Pull back the curtain and you’ve got the 12 year old who made up the pledge.

  7. 7
    trollhattan says:

    Something I missed during the campaign, Bloomberg has been spending money on targeted races to pick off key pro-NRA candidates.

    Joe Baca never saw it coming, and neither did Gloria Negrete McLeod.
    But as state Sen. Negrete McLeod replaces Baca in Congress, the dueling San Bernardino County Democrats witnessed first hand the beginnings of a change in gun politics, courtesy of billionaire New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
    No doubt the strongest gun control advocate on Forbes’ list of the fabulously rich, Bloomberg seized an opportunity to unseat Baca, a pro-gun Democrat, by spending $3.3 million on television and mail attacks. Given his estimated $25 billion fortune, $3.3 million is couch cushion change. But it was three times the sum Baca and Negrete McLeod raised between them. By homing in on a loyal National Rifle Association politician, Bloomberg altered a long-standing element of American politics.

    Maybe, the times, they are a-changing.

  8. 8
    Violet says:

    Grover will be easy to demonize–his wife is Muslim. It’ll be interesting to see just how fast he becomes un-American.

  9. 9
    General Stuck says:


    I shouldn’t say a weasel of that grade is positively finished, but what I saw was it on the defensive, and laughingly demanding there be Cspan cameras on the negotiations. He spent his time blubbering about Obama this or that, and Jim Cramer just pointed at him and said something like your time is up.

  10. 10
    Mark S. says:

    Another BCS is upon us and most of the games are duds. At least they spread it out over a week of awful games!

  11. 11
    👽 Martin says:

    The fiscal cliff creates an enormous opportunity to end an era in which it was never, ever permissible to raise taxes.

    And this is why I think we should go off the cliff on taxes – if the rates remain, it’ll be validated that we can never afford higher tax rates. If they go up and the economy doesn’t crumble, that argument is destroyed – at least for a while.

  12. 12
    EcoNerd says:

    @trollhattan: Not sure if you are watching the football game, but at halftime Costas read an explicitly pro-gun control excerpt. I was really startled at the unapologetic nature of the piece.

    He can be sanctimonious, but in this case I was very impressed (with Costas, and perhaps less surprisingly, with Whitlock).

  13. 13
    Viva BrisVegas says:

    @👽 Martin:

    If they go up and the economy doesn’t crumble

    That’s a big and serious if.

  14. 14
    trollhattan says:

    I’m no but thanks for sharing that. And good on Costas (who I can usually only take in measured doses).

    Ol’ Wayne LaPierre is going to be one busy fake French guy.

  15. 15
    Chris says:

    But kudos for an openness to compromise should be reserved for Republicans who put forward concrete proposals to raise taxes…

    I have to say, it’s one fucking hell of a country when a party admitting that raising taxes can sometimes be part of the governing process is considered “openness to compromise.”

  16. 16
    fuckwit says:

    Can we have a Fiscal Cliff Richard instead?

    He can sing idiotic religious pop songs about Grover Norquist.

  17. 17
    fuckwit says:

    Actually, better, a Fiscal Cliff Huxtable:

    That’d be better.

  18. 18
    lamh35 says:

    no politics tonight. been spending all day watching movies. final movie of the night, High Fidelity. seriously, is there something in John Cusacks movie contracts that he has to do at least one angst-ridden or heartbroken scene in his movies that involve relationships??? there’s like 3 such rain scenes in High Fidelity.

  19. 19
    Full Metal Wingnut says:

    I largely agree with the quoted article, just don’t understand why “tax cuts” are in quotes. Tax subsidies are, for all intents and purposes, crypto tax cuts.

  20. 20
    The Moar You Know says:

    Norquist’s apoplectic outrage the day after Election Day over the passage of California’s Prop 30 was a thing to behold. I thought he was going to stroke out live on air. He was predicting Californians would leave the state by the millions.

    Guess he never lived here. Those words were the spluttering of a washed-up vaudeville star who just realized that his schtick no longer plays, so over the top ridiculous it was true comedy. Even the wingnut hosts were laughing at him. Nobody leaves California.

  21. 21
    Full Metal Wingnut says:

    Also, I’m no fan of Doombergz, but props to him there@trollhattan:

  22. 22
    jl says:

    This is interesting thing I just saw on TPM. And Rep Cole said it on This Week, which should get some attention. Will any GOP bigshots walk it back? Or are they insane?

    Or maybe they figure just stonewall and flimflam, since that worked so well in the election?

    The GOP needs to give our failed corporate media experiment something to spin, right?

    Rep. Cole: Republicans Don’t Need To Put Forward A Plan
    Pema Levy


    Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK): “I don’t think we need to put a formal proposal out on the table,” Cole said on ABC’s “This Week.”

  23. 23
    Nemo_N says:

    But liberals told me Norquist already won!

    Why not do everything Republicans say and give rich people larger tax cuts?

    I mean, Norquist won already and liberals are losers. Why waste any more time?

  24. 24
    fuckwit says:

    OK last one for tonight:

    The rest are here:

    Fiscal Cliff Huxtable.

  25. 25
    Yutsano says:

    @The Moar You Know: Grover cannot fail, he can only be failed.

  26. 26
    aimai says:

    How can people read any of this stuff and think that it matters whether grover, or “Grover ™” or a “grover like person with a different name” is running the anti tax dodge? Whether people “signed a pledge” or just nodded discreetly with a finger beside their nose? Its obvious that there are billions of dollars out there to buy X times a billion in tax cuts and that there will always be some guy-some Karl Rove or some Grover Norquist to belly up to the billionaire bar and take some of that sweet, sweet, filthy lucre in exchange for devising some scheme to keep Congressman taking hard, public votes to slash taxes for their buyers. I mean their owners. I mean their constituents.

  27. 27
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    Nobody leaves California

    You can check out any time you like but you can never leave.

  28. 28
  29. 29
    Punchy says:

    I bet Sesame Street is loving all the free pub they’re getting with Grover’s name in the news nearly every day.

  30. 30
    John Weiss says:

    @BillinGlendaleCA: That’s why we moved to southern Oregon rather than northern California. We heard the news many years ago.

    Also: fuck Grover. And I don’t mean in the nice way.

  31. 31
    Nutella says:


    I think we really need to point out loudly and often that this is the laziest Congress ever. The Rs won’t do any work to earn their hefty salaries and lavish benefits – no tax plan, an amazingly low number of bills passed.

    This is something that all taxpayers should be able to understand and despise: They’re not doing any of the work we’re paying them to do.

    Yeah, I know there are plenty of bills we wouldn’t want Boehner and Cantor to get through, but this is an effective way to summarize the uselessness of the current House and its Republican leadership.

  32. 32
    Richard says:

    he’s just a proxy for the powerful interest groups that finance him.

    Fitting that the GOP has taken a pledge of allegiance to a whore.

  33. 33
    👽 Martin says:

    @Viva BrisVegas:

    That’s a big and serious if.

    Not really. It’s the combination of the tax increase, plus the loss of the payroll tax holiday and a $100B in other spending immediately cut, plus the Physician Pay Adjustment, and the AMT not being extended and so on.

    If we eliminate the unusual items – the sequestration, and extend the Physician pay and the AMT as we do every year, the hit won’t be nearly so bad. Would be better if the payroll tax and Bush tax cuts didn’t happen simultaneously, though.

  34. 34
    Roger Moore says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    Nobody leaves California.

    Yes, they do. Enough of them do that states that get a lot of immigration from California call the way the immigrants change the local culture “Californication”.

  35. 35
    Punchy says:

    We’re going cliffin’. No chance the primary-adverse teatards will accept anything with O’s name on it. Gunna be fun watching 30 days of the GOP crying

  36. 36
    👽 Martin says:

    @Roger Moore: My dad retired to a small town in Oregon. He estimates that 50% of his town lived in CA within the last 15 years.

  37. 37
    Felonius Monk says:

    Anyone who thinks that Grover and the rest of these weasels are going to crawl back into their holes never to be heard from again is smoking something that in most states is illegal. These vermin would rather see you and me dead than give up their $$$.

    Grover Norquist is a dangerous person whose self interest has little to do with God and Country. Underestimate him at your peril. Unless a way can be found to neutralize him permanently, he will probably become even more dangerous when he loses the current battle.

  38. 38
    cat48 says:

    There’s about 5 stories about Grover on the WaPo Politics page. Unfortunately, the latest story says the GOP go on TV & promise Revenue & after the TV appearance, they call Grover & say they didn’t mean it! It’s all Lies. Grover will not even allow loophole closing for new Revenue. I expect all pols to be deceptive at times, but they’re just blatantly lying constantly now. Depressing.

    I guess the GOP will continue to lie until we go off the Cliff. No word on how Grover will handle that yet.

  39. 39
    Yutsano says:

    @👽 Martin: The AMT does not need to be fixed immediately save for the sake of my work so withholding tables are accurate. The doc fix should be an easy pass and may happen in a standalone bill. The one that worries me is sequestration. That directly affects every federal agency and we’re already straining to get shit done as it is. I’d just as soon fix all that and not worry about the tax rate adjustment just yet, although that still makes my work hellish.

  40. 40
    mai naem says:

    Lots of ex-Californians in AZ. Seriously, the reason AZ RE came back after recessions in the 80s,90s and 00s is the ex-Californians, the ex-NY//PA/NJrs and the ex-Chicagoans. And, ofcourse, they think everything in AZ is dirt cheap. Unfortunately, this last time around its been the Canadians. Hordes of Canadians have some down and bought property for investment because,of course, they think its dirt cheap compared to BC and Toronto.

    Anyway, I’ve been busy with work so haven’t commented on the multithreads involving the GOP and Obama’s budget plan, but its been freaking hilarious watching the GOP deal with the New Angry Black President Obama. I love that they think he’s playing Lucy and the football with them. Oh, the irony!
    It’s like dude, you mofos gambled last year and you lost, now you deal with the consequences. And Grover talking about putting Obama on a short leash. Seriously, you are going to call the president of the US a dog. If somebody had done this with Saint Reagan, Grover would have gone ballistic. Fvck Grover with a sharp pitchfork.

  41. 41
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    @The Moar You Know: “You can check out any time you like…”

    I left California in November 1978, right after Prop 13 passed. Granted, I didn’t grow up there, and moved to California to go to college, but hell, after that vote anybody could see what was coming.

    Besides, I got homesick for seasons.

  42. 42
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason:

    People who say they’re nostalgic for seasons obviously didn’t grow up in Chicagoland in the 1980s.

    I was in high school in 1985, and that was the winter that convinced me that I should go to school in Southern California and never go back. (It helped that I already had two aunts and a brother living out here who had previously made that pledge to themselves.)

    ETA: I note from that chart that, of the 15 coldest days on record in Chicago history, 9 of them happened in the 1980s. Jaysus.

  43. 43
    opie jeanne says:

    @👽 Martin: My uncle retired there in the late ’60s from San Diego. After a couple of years he was griping about all the Californians moving to his state.

  44. 44
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    @Mnemosyne: Well, in 2010 when we got two nor’easters here in PA within two weeks with about 4 feet of snow, I got a little sick of winter.

    Truth be told, I got homesick for Spring. I decided I’d put up with a bit of winter just to see Spring come around every year.

    SoCal had 2 seasons: Summer and rain. Well, maybe 3 if you include the mountains burning and the Santa Anas every October.

  45. 45
    opie jeanne says:

    @Mnemosyne: We retired and moved to the Seattle area two years ago from Anaheim. I wasn’t ready to leave but Mr opie_jeanne was, so we left. Now he’s having trouble with the weather, the months of gloom and rain, but two of our kids are there so he won’t move back.

    Funny, most of the people we know have moved there from California; some griped about all of the people from other states who were moving there.

  46. 46
    BruinKid says:

    More on California… we just expanded our Democratic supermajority by another seat in the state Assembly! In a stunning upset, the final L.A. County ballots pushed Steve Fox (D) into the lead over Ron Smith (R) by only 145 votes!

    (However, Fox ran as a Republican in 2008 for the Assembly, and did sign Norquist’s anti-tax pledge. But he also supported Prop. 30, so he already violated the pledge, instead of just thinking “impure thoughts” about it.)

    It’s crucial to have what I’ve coined the “Lieberman buffer”. Now one lone conservative Democrat cannot hold us hostage. (Of course, if two of them get together…………)

    Though we won’t have our supermajority for several more months, because we have to fill some state senate vacancies due to those Democrats getting elected to Congress, and if an Assemblymember runs for that state senate seat, it opens up yet another Assembly seat that we have to fill. Sigh.

  47. 47

    @Mark S.: Interesting how he basically ignored the Rose Bowl.

  48. 48
    opie jeanne says:

    @Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason: There are places in both Northern and Southern California that have seasons but I know what you’re talking about. Even for a native it was hard to take 100 degree weather in April which was inevitably followed by Santa Anas.

    What I do miss is the growing season. We are fighting the climate to grow decent tomatoes in August-September. I think we need a greenhouse.

  49. 49

    @opie jeanne: People who are used to having trees explode in their faces aren’t particularly attuned to the changes in the seasons, I think.

  50. 50
    jl says:

    @BruinKid: Thanks for the good news on CA leg.

    BTW, are that kind of gritty little Bruins kid?

    If so, hello from another gritty little Bruin.

  51. 51
    opie jeanne says:

    @The prophet Nostradumbass: Um, I’ve never had that happen.

    In Anaheim, in the Land of No Discernable Seasons, we had a jacaranda that went from bare branches in the winter to an explosion of blue flowers in late spring. Is that what you’re talking about>?

    I’m a gardener; I am very attuned to changes in the seasons.

  52. 52
    Yutsano says:

    @BruinKid: Dontcha just adore opportunistic party switchers?

  53. 53

    @opie jeanne: My comment wasn’t really aimed at you, even though I replied to you, sorry, it was actually more aimed at the Brother. People who complain about California not having seasons are pretty silly.

    Jacarandas produce some really nice displays in the spring, there are a bunch of them here in Santa Clara county, though I think they bloom later here than they do in the Southland.

    ETA: fixed typo

  54. 54
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    Wingnut welfare in a nutshell.

  55. 55
    opie jeanne says:

    @The prophet Nostradumbass: Oh. I was a bit confused.

    We lived in the bay area for 9 years and experienced more dramatic season changes than we had in SoCal, but it was mostly just a lot more rain. We lived in Riverside for 23 years and it got a lot colder most winters than it did there, down below freezing for many nights starting in November. There’s nothing like sitting in a hot tub and hearing 400 avocados hitting the ground because of a cold snap a couple of days before.

  56. 56
    Yutsano says:

    @opie jeanne:

    There’s nothing like sitting in a hot tub and hearing 400 avocados hitting the ground because of a cold snap a couple of days before.

    That’s a lotta guac. I hope you had plenty of chips on hand.

    BTW getting the word out now: Inauguration night meet-up. It’s a Friday and if all goes well I should be there with no problems.

  57. 57
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @jl: and @BruinKid
    After this past weekend, I’m a grumpy little Bruin.

  58. 58
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @Yutsano: Inauguration on Friday? The 20th is Sunday, and the public inauguration is on Monday(my BDay).

  59. 59
    Yutsano says:

    @BillinGlendaleCA: That’s also MLK Day. That seems very fitting to me and also means I should have zero issues attending. When we looked it up last night it was mentioned it was a Friday. But whatever. :)

    PS: IIRC RedKitteh is due on that day. So that might turn out to be a very exciting day on BJ all around!

  60. 60
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @Yutsano: Over Thanksgiving I mentioned to the kid, that her b-day was a holiday this year(Labor Day) and mine is in 2013(MLK). In addition we’re both pigs.

  61. 61

    […] to Anne Laurie. Posted: 3:13 amCategories: Campaign Finance, Right Wing NutseryBookmark the […]

  62. 62


    I think we really need to point out loudly and often that this is the laziest Congress ever. The Rs won’t do any work to earn their hefty salaries and lavish benefits

    But to the Republicans and their supporters, that is their “work” – by doing nothing they are fighting the good fight, saving the country from Soshulist Sharia Dictatorship.

  63. 63
    kay says:

    I had never seen Norquist “live” before or heard him speak prior to his latest foray into celebrity.
    Jesus, but he’s unappealing and unpersuasive. The grating, whiny voice and perpetual sneer, he just reeks of clueless, lifetime tenure inside a very small group. He could play “corrupt soul-dead lobbyist” in a movie. He’s like the anti-populist.
    I now completely understand why he latches on to people who have a shot at getting elected rather than running himself.
    I wish he’d join the media celebrity ranks in addition to his other grifts.
    He needs more public exposure :)

  64. 64
    mai naem says:

    @Felonius Monk: I think it was in Chris Hayes show this w/e that most of Norquists money comes from the Big Hedgefund Managers – Steve Schwarzman, John Paulson and Paul Singer. It isn’t enough that they become multi billionaires in this country which would not be possible in another country, but these same pigs then don’t want to pay the annual price of admission to this country. Fvckers. Something needs to be done with hedge funds and vulture funds. There is nothing productive about them.

  65. 65
    kay says:

    @General Stuck:

    It’s amazing no one has ever used him in ad. Clip of Norquist haranguing elected representative in that droning, dead, voice coupled with representative’s sniveling, stuttering claim of independence.

    Norquist not only comes off like he was born in a suit, he comes off like he was born carrying a briefcase stuffed with cash.

  66. 66
    Helen Bedd says:

    It turns out that this is the second “national” conservative organization recently found to get most of its finding from just two places

    “Just two donors were responsible for funding 75 percent of the anti-gay group, The National Organization for Marriage, as the organization reported two donations of approximately $2.4 million each.”

    Wonder if this is true of a lot more, as well…

  67. 67
    opie jeanne says:

    @Yutsano: Yay! Do we have a place yet?

  68. 68
    Applejinx says:

    Insults! Trixie will wreak a terrible vengeance on foalish Republicans who dare to steal her catchphrase! Trixie will whip them until they beg for…


    Trixie cannot punish these stupid humans if it only arouses them! D:

  69. 69
    Full Metal Wingnut says:

    @👽 Martin: Extend the AMT? The AMT has no expiration date, it’s in there until congress removes it. What congress can do, though, is raise the zero bracket again instead of letting it revert. They never indexed the AMT to inflation when they passed it way back when.

  70. 70
    BruinKid says:

    @BillinGlendaleCA: Hey, I was there IN PERSON yesterday to see USC beat us for the men’s water polo title at USC, and then chant “undefeated” in the pool. If anyone has reason to be grumpy….

    And then on the UCLA message boards, rich alumni complain about not enough students showing up, and when I try to point out that ticket prices and tuition have increased and some people I know actually have trouble financially with the increasing burdens, they cannot understand how a college student cannot afford $65 for a Holiday Bowl game ticket. And about $40 to sit in bad seats in Anaheim to watch our basketball team against San Diego State. Or another $32 to sit in the rafters at USC for basketball.

    Those prices add up pretty quickly, which didn’t seem to faze the guy I was talking to, who just happens to be a wealthy lawyer. And a Republican.

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