Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Pledge: Grover Norquist's hold on the GOP

I saw this 60 Minutes segment on Grover Norquist on Sunday and while I have very different political views, I have to admit that he's been HIGHLY effective – the only thing close to it is the teachers unions' hold on the Democratic party.  Some good lessons for school reformers on having a very focused agenda and playing hardball…

As head of Americans for Tax Reform since 1986, Grover Norquist has transformed a single issue - preventing tax hikes - into one of the key platforms of the Republican Party. As Steve Kroft reports, his biggest coup was getting more than 270 members of Congress, and nearly all of the 2012 Republican presidential primary candidates, to sign a pledge promising never to vote to raise taxes. But some opponents say the pledge may be hindering a solution to America's debt crisis.

To watch the video, go to:, and below is the transcript. 


For the opposite point of view, here's Erica Payne of Patriotic Millionaires, of which I am a member:

I am sending along a link to a meeting held last week (Nov 16th) between the Patriotic Millionaires and Grover Norquist, President ofAmericans for Tax Reform.  You can see an un-edited video of the meeting HERE.  I think it should be required viewing for anyone engaged in the public debate around taxes.   

Grover is one of the most powerful lobbyists in Washington and is almost single-handedly responsible for the gridlock in Congress.  A recent60 Minutes piece explored his influence on Washington Republicans in depth.  According to a recent article in the Guardian, Grover hassecured a written pledge from 238 out of 242 Republican House members and 41 out of 47 Republican senators that they will not vote for a single tax increase. Any Republican who fails to sign the pledge is highly likely to face a grueling primary challenge.  All six Republicans on the Super committee were signatories.

As you are likely aware, the Super Committee failed to reach an agreement about how to find $1.2 trillion to pay down the national debt.  As is often true in politics (and in business for that matter), no deal was the best deal possible.  However, much of the reason no good deal was possible is that Republicans are locked into this anti-tax pledge - even when it comes to the 0.1% of the country who make more than $1 million a year.

The Patriotic Millionaires believe that any long-term fiscal plan must include an increase in taxes on people (like themselves) with annual incomes of over $1 million.  Specifically, they would like to see tax rates on incomes over $1 million return to 39.6% - the level they were before we had our current problems.  They met with Grover to share their perspective on taxes with him, but were ultimately unsuccessful in convincing him that raising taxes on millionaires was the right thing to do.


November 20, 2011 7:32 PM

The Pledge: Grover Norquist's hold on the GOP

Watch the Segment »

I encourage you to take a few minutes out of your Thanksgiving to watch the exchange between Grover and the Patriotic Millionaires.  And then maybe take a moment to be grateful that Democratic members of the Super Committee were smart enough to understand that no deal was the best deal for America – given that their Republican counterparts on the committee care more about their pledge to Nordquist than their pledge to the United States Constitution.

Take care,


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