Jewish World Review Nov 24, 2011 / 27 Mar-Cheshvan, 5772
Lawmakers should pledge to think on their own
By Dan K. Thomasson
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The other day I watched this pompous little man prance around the stage of national television obviously enormously pleased with himself. I couldn't help but think the only things missing were a Roman-style laurel wreath around his head and a violin that he could use to fiddle while democracy burns down around us.
In the old days, "taking the pledge" meant swearing off alcohol forever. In today's congressional Republican world, it means doing the same to independent thought about one of the key life or death issues in the national economy -- taxes -- and mindlessly entrusting one's elected obligation to do what is best for the nation to the judgment of one Grover Norquist, also known in many circles as the Most Powerful Man in Washington.
He is the chief of Americans for Tax Reform, one of those special interest groups whose money and influence more and more decide the fate of Americans, like it or not.
And who is to argue with the assessment of his political stature considering that almost every GOP member of Congress has signed his pledge to forever forgo support for an increase in taxes no matter the consequences, which Norquist promises will be far better than if they had not done so. To do otherwise, he cautions will mean the political death penalty.
The result of Norquist's messianic demands, replete with wanted posters for those who dare disobey him, is the current failure to deal with the debt crises which most every economist of standing agrees needs some new revenues folded into the mixture of budget cutting and entitlement reform. All Republican members of the stalled supercommittee on debt reduction have signed on Norquist's dotted line.
How in good conscience does an elected member of the national government sign away his ability to think for himself on any issue? Norquist argues that they don't. His organization he says is merely a surrogate for the voters who decide whether their lawmakers have been faithful to the ideals they espoused when elected. He does admit to influencing their decision by pouring large amounts of money into election campaigns to defeat those who oppose his edicts.
Former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming, who co-chaired the bipartisan budget reduction commission, is one of those who openly deplores Norquist's hold on Republican tax policy. He concedes that Norquist may be the most powerful man in the capital -- as counterproductive to rational solutions as that clearly is. What's that about a government of, by, and for the people? Where did that idea originate?
This sort of outsized influence is not unknown in American history. The Prohibition movement had several of those with more clout than sense and, believe it or not, the only reason they succeeded was the passage of a federal income tax which could replace the revenue lost from liquor excise taxes when the country foolishly went dry. The liquor tax made up one-third of the federal budget.
During his interview with "60 Minutes," Norquist proudly displayed the framed signed pledges of lawmakers past and present, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich who now wants to be president of the United States, and just might have second thoughts about the matter should he happen to be elected. He also displayed his official "wanted" posters for errant lawmakers on the walls of what easily could pass as the lobby of a U.S. post office.
Norquist has been plotting his ascent to power apparently since he was 12 when he began volunteering in the presidential campaign of Richard Nixon. Some say he might have been the model for Alex P. Keaton, Michael Fox's buttoned up young character in the television show "Family Ties." His idea as he expressed it seems to be to turn the tax clock back to the early 20th century when the nation's population was a third of what it is now and societal needs were largely ignored. He says he should not be blamed for the supercommittee's failure to resolve the debt nor the impact that has on the economy. He's probably right. We should blame the lawmakers foolish enough to follow him. They should take a pledge -- to think on their own.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Comment by clicking here.
• 11/22/11: Iowa: Vital to GOP now, irrelevant later
• 11/16/11: Pentagon's senior mentor service takes hit
• 11/14/11: With Congress, expect more intransigence
• 11/08/11: Paterno's illustrious career faces tarnished end
• 10/31/11: The FBI is burned by its Boston informants
• 10/18//11: President Inexperienced again picked style and enthusiasm over caution. He must pay
• 10/10/11: Prosecutors routinely abuse plea bargaining
• 10/04/11: In Christie,shades of William Howard Taft
• 09/27/11: One word for Obama's prospects --- bleak
• 09/26/11: Obama quickly running out of time
• 09/23/11: Big-time college football is now all about the money
• 09/22/11: A trip to the dentist cleans out your wallet
• 09/06/11: College rankings a useless exercise
• 08/31/11: Thankful a mother isn't alive to see this hungry mess
• 08/30/11: Supercommittee should meet in secret
• 08/22/11: Is college still worth it? Some majors are
• 08/15/11: Pray for miracle from debt committee
• 08/09/11: S&P mixes credit ratings with politics
• 08/08/11: Politics again takes precedence over common sense
• 08/04/11: In modern society, a distinct pattern of senselessness
• 07/29/11: A debt solution: Throw the rascals out, all of them
• 07/21/11: Campaign finance reform --- you're kidding, right!?
• 07/08/11: Casey Anthony jury did its job
• 07/05/11: Nailing a prominent figure or institution should come at a heavy risk and an even greater price if proven a hoax
© 2011, SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE