Reporting Tim Kephart
Legislative Session Coverage
WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – Democrats have placed much of the problem of gridlock in Washington at the feet of Grover Norquist. The Democrats have an unusual ally in their assessment, former President George H.W. Bush.
Norquist authored an anti-tax pledge that GOP representatives and senators sign or run the risk of his wrath in the form of fund-raising and supporting opposition campaigns. The anti-tax pledge vows to never increase taxes under any circumstances at all, regardless of what is going on with the economy or the government.
The pledge has been signed by every Florida GOP representative and Senator including: Senator Marco Rubio, Representatives David Rivera, Allen West, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Connie Mack.
“The rigidity of those pledges is something I don’t like,” former President Bush told Parade Magazine. “The circumstances change and you can’t be wedded to some formula by Grover Norquist. It’s – who the hell is Grover Norquist anyway?
President Bush is the latest in a string of GOP lawmakers and former lawmakers to question the need or wisdom of the rigid anti-tax pledge. With most of the House and GOP members of the Senate being under the umbrella of the pledge, no movement has been made on deficit reform.
Republicans have refused any tax increase on businesses or the wealthy to help deal with debt problems even if the $1 of tax increase was met with $10 of budget cuts to domestic spending. This refusal and commitment to only cutting has put Washington into a stand-still.
President Barack Obama’s latest tax-cut proposal is the latest example. President Obama has proposed extending the Bush-era tax cuts on the first $250,000 Americans earn while continuing to negotiate or letting the rates revert for money made above that level.
Republicans said since the taxes would increase on families earnings in excess of $250,000, the President’s plan was not going to be considered; even though the GOP supports keeping the rates for under $250,000 in place.
In the same interview with Parade, President Bush’s wife Barbara showed her disdain for Norquist as well, saying “I think he ought to go back to Alaska.” The line was a reference to a quote she gave about Sarah Palin saying she hoped Palin would stay in Alaska.