Grover Norquist – King of What?

Who is Grover Norquist?  How does this one man command the allegiance of over 200 Representatives and Senators in Congress?  And why would those Representatives and Senators decide that this one man is more important than their constituents?

Apparently, one of the biggest obstacles to approving raising the debt ceiling, and ultimately developing a workable budget, is the prospect of closing tax loopholes for corporations and the wealthiest 2%.  You see, a couple hundred Representatives and Senators signed a pledge to not raise taxes under any circumstances.  How ridiculous.

By signing a pledge opposing raising any new taxes, these “servants of the public” have become mere idealogues – uncompromising, unbending.  They have ceased representing their constituents and have pledged themselves to Grover Norquist.

He is the head of the advocacy group (read: lobbyist for) Americans for Tax Reform.  He was asked to form this group by St. Ronald Reagan himself, elevating him to near religious status among neo-Conservatives.  Ostensibly, this group was to advocate to reduce the percentage of GDP consumed by the federal government.  However, the primary weapon in achieving this has been opposing any tax increases under any circumstances.  But let’s call it what it is: a group of wealthy people protecting their own wealth at any cost.

You see, Grover Norquist is no hardscrabble success story, pulling himself up by his bootstraps, which happens to be the favored meme of Republicans who oppose any programs that help the less fortunate among us.  No, Grover Norquist was born into wealth.  Lots of it.  His father was a vice president in Polaroid Corporation.  At 12 years old, he volunteered for Nixon’s 1968  Presidential campaign.  He received his BA and MBA from Harvard.  He served as executive director of the National Taxpayers Union and the College Republicans and served as Economist and Chief Speechwriter for the US Chamber of Commerce.    This is a man who has never lacked for anything in his life.

Socially he has supported positive initiatives for Islamic-American relations, serves on the board of GOProud, an advocacy group representing the conservative LGBT community, and supports pulling American forces out of Afghanistan.  So, this is not a heartless individual.  Just a misguided one.

There are certainly problems with the amount of money consumed by the federal government.

At this point in American History, the government has borrowed so much money from Social Security that an important  program that we have ALL contributed to in with the promise that we will have a safety net when needed is now in serious danger.   We are involved in expending billions and billions of dollars nation building in two countries, while the poor and needy languish unassisted and without health insurance here at home.  Corporations and banks operating under almost no regulation, thanks to one of the few bi-partisan efforts in recent history, caused economic collapse and were rewarded for their efforts by being “bailed out” with billions of dollars in taxpayer funds.

However, Americans for Tax Reform have not targeted these issues as areas in which the government can cut back.  Instead, they have actively opposed health care reform, the Departments of Education and Energy (although they were surprisingly silent on the huge expansion of government that occurred with the Department of Homeland Security), expansion of human services programs, and they openly question global warming on purely economic grounds.

Here is the reality: by opposing tax increases across the board, Grover Norquist and ATR have contributed to the increasing gap between rich and poor in this country.  The tax loopholes that President Obama has proposed closing affect primarily the richest 2% of Americans and the largest corporations –  corporations that have shipped jobs overseas and stocked money offshore while paying historic lows in taxes thanks to favorable tax breaks and loopholes.  He is protecting himself and the wealthiest 2%.  He is protecting wealth and the maintaining of wealth.  He is NOT protecting actual “job creators” or the working class.

So, why would OUR representatives in government beholden themselves to a wealthy scion whose singular mission is “reduce it [government] to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub”?

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