Grover Norquist is without question the kind of nerd that most working-class Democrats and Liberals like to attack. He comes from an affluent Republican family, grew up in the household of a corporate executive for Polaroid corporation, and has Harvard and Harvard Business School certifications indicating that he completed both required courses of study.
He began early to find his way in the Republican Party—even before college was interested in politics–and particularly in the world of the magical tax-cutters that made Reaganites so popular. He was president of the College Republicans. After college and business school, he worked for the Chamber of Commerce.
No one says that to be evil you must be stupid. On the contrary most successful criminals or despots, although we would like to think of them as evil and often mock them and proclaim their actions to be stupid…are quite bright. Such is Grover Norquist. He is not a true believer in tax cutting. He is an opportunist.
Grover isn’t really interested in fairness or lower taxes as a personal philosophy. It is merely a way for him to make a lot of money. Let me prove that to you logically. During the Bush administration, we had a tax cut that lowered the top rate from 39.6 to 35%, which resulted in a lot of money coming out of a balanced budget…thereby unbalancing it.
Simultaneously, Bush started two wars. First it was Afghanistan and then soon thereafter, Iraq. Then he cut the tax rates again, this time on capital gains and dividends from 20% to 15%. This threw the budget into huge imbalance, causing deficits of hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Yet the same Grover Norquist who wanted to cut taxes before, wanted to cut taxes again, even though it was the first time we failed to raise taxes, let alone cut taxes during a war.
Grover Norquist is a liar. His goal is to make the rich richer and the poor poorer, and to eliminate the Middle Class altogether. It is not clear, never will be clear from what he says but it is overwhelmingly clear from what he does. He continues to lobby for more tax cuts for the rich while cutting services for the poor, the elderly, the veterans and the elderly. And he wants to cut taxes during our $15 trillion national debt. `
Here’s how it works. A rich man makes a million dollars. And at the end of a year, he ends up paying about $230,000 in taxes. While the rich man still has disposable income of $770,000 per year, he doesn’t like laying out that kind of money. Grover Norquist’s job is to find those really rich people who hate paying taxes and gather them into an organization, Americans for Tax Reform.
Now, wealthy Americans are used to paying taxes, especially those families like the Rockefellers and the Vanderbilts who have sent wealth down to one generation after another. In fact, in the early part of World War I, the very wealthy paid a top income tax of 7% but as the government asked them to do more to safeguard a land of which the top 1% owned about 50%, they eventually paid a top rate of 97%.
This happened again in the Second World War and for a couple of decades after while we paid down the wartime debt, which grew to about 120% of GDP. But in 2001, George W. Bush came up with a new formula, of which Grover Norquist approved.
Bush and Dick Cheney decided that they could create not one, but two, wars and pay for neither. At the same time, they decided to defy the laws of finance, economics and good sense, they decided not only not to raise taxes but actually to cut taxes…once in 2001 and again in 2003.
Of course Americans for Tax Reform were quite happy. They got huge tax cuts which enabled the top 1.1 million Americans to not only earn about half of all income earned in a country of 300 million people, but to keep enough so that they could eventually own about two-thirds of all equities, i.e., two thirds of all the corporations and banks in the country.
And what kind of money is that? What kinds of things do the rich have that you do not? Well, just take Cindy McCain, Senator John McCain’s second wife. She is the heir to a Budweiser distributorship. Not a huge deal, but still multi-millions. As we learned, you may remember, in the 2008 campaign, the McCains have 9 domiciles, nine places that they call home. This is at a time when 3 million Americans are being turned out onto the street because of policies that John McCain supports.
So you can see why Grover Norquist is so popular among the rich. And because the particular rich who do not want to pay taxes (Republicans) spend a lot of money buying up Republican politicians who will gladly take ten or twenty thousand dollars to vote against any tax measures, Grover Norquist became the pre-eminent lobbyist for the rich and a very powerful man in Washington.
Of course it is not only the rich who do not like paying taxes. None of us like paying taxes. But the fact is that we have 300 million people in this country, of whom about half have jobs and pay taxes to support the other half, who, at any given time, are non-employed spouses, children, elderly, the unemployed, disabled or retired. Today the unemployed make up at least one of every ten of those non-tax paying individuals.
It has never been otherwise. The difference today is that an organized segment of the very wealthy, namely Norquist’s self-serving group, no longer want to pay even slightly more in taxes in order to sustain the country in a time of need. They would not do so when Bush began the War in Afghanistan, or when he began the war in Iraq. On the contrary, they sought and were given tax cuts while the country spent billions.
If you spend half a billion dollars on a war and you cut taxes by half a billion dollars, that is clearly and obviously $1 billion less than you have as revenues coming in. So that is how the Bush Administration built up an additional $7 trillion in debt over a little less than 8 years. (On top of $5 trillion in debt already rung up by Reagan and the first Bush.)
Right now we have less revenue coming in per capita than at any time since 1950 when we had less than half the people we have today. We have annual deficits of $1 trillion. Here’s why. George W. Bush unbalanced the budget after Clinton balanced it. He cut taxes without cutting government. Then he started two wars.
Bush left town every year for an average of about 50 days. Hardly what you would expect from a hands-on manager, CEO of a country of 300 million, supposedly trying to win two wars. He relaxed banking and securities regulations, put the Fox (Chris Cox, a man who hates regulation and regulators) in charge of the hen house at the Securities and Exchange Commission. Cox fired regulators by the hundreds, refused to charge securities companies with fraud, closed cases and in general allowed the Great Bush Crash of 2008, if in fact he did not deliberately start it.
In all of this resulted in an increase of the deficit of $700 billion a year ($350 billion in lost tax revenues from tens of thousands of closed businesses and 14 million people unemployed and $350 billion in additional unemployment benefits, welfare benefits and other costs associated with a large percentage of the economy that shut down.
Add this $700 billion a year onto the already high, roughly $350 to $400 per year Bush deficits and you now have a trillion dollars a year. With two wars, and giveaways to banks and the Prescription Drug bill that cost $600 billion over a number of years and the tax cuts and the two wars, each one about a trillion dollars over the life of the conflicts….we’re in real debt.
And what does Grover Norquist want to do? He wants to shut down most basic services for the average American, including those that the citizens have already paid for but have been stolen by the Republicans….like Social Security.
Grover Norquist works for the rich. He will always try to reduce the taxes that the rich pay. He wants taxes to zero out. He will be paid by the rich and the rich feel that they do not need most of what government provides. They need protection of their businesses, but they don’t need Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.
So that is Grover Norquist, a little weasel ready to do the bidding of anyone who will pay him enough money. It is time that Americans woke up and realized that the Tea Party and all the other Republicans who signed Grover Norquist’s no-tax pledge actually made a pledge to a lobbyist for the rich, and therefore a pledge to help the rich themselves.