Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

News Grover Norquist

  1. Sep 13, 2012 #1
    Well, I've never started a political thread on the boards before, nor do I usually get involved in politics because of its persistently unscientific nature, but I feel this topic is of the most profound significance and thus a VERY worthy and eminent discussion. Many in the know would say that this has been THE dominant issue in American politics since the congressional house swap of 2010. Without further adieu, I will now frame the topic.

    This topic is about Grover Norquist's (and his group Americans for Tax Reform's) controversial "Taxpayer Protection Pledge". The pledge creates a promise by republican politicians to "1. oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses; and 2. oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates."

    For those not familiar with Grover Norquist and his controversial tax cut advocacy, here is a short 60 minutes interview (though the video is only a 13 mintues 30 seconds long cut) that outlines the gist of what Grover Norquist supports and administers:



    Critics point out the obvious stagnation such a "no compromise" stance can (and has) caused in government. To those that do not abide by the pledge (or do not sign it), they are refused campaign aid by Norquist's powerfully financed and supported conservative partners. His organization decorates their walls with a list (not sure if it's complete or not) of candidates who have broken the pledge, and the resultant candidates that have overtaken them in the following election cycle. Norquist claims the pledge is not to him, rather it is a pledge to the American people, but is this political talk a proper and honest defense?

    Other related topics that I feel are relevant/should be discussed are the obvious influences of money on government that this issue so obviously highlights, as well as the ability of "non-profit" political groups to be opaque in regards to their key financial contributors. Though certainly if you are reminded of a closely related topic of discussion, please add it so as to prevent cliche political cherry picking.

    What are everyone's thoughts? For an issue that's so profoundly important and supposed to be all about transparency and public opinion, why have so few heard about Grover Norquist and the pledge he's helped establish?

    Further, what can be done to eliminate any perceived causes and effects of said public policy?

    Although I have included a couple of specific questions for discussion, I do not want people to limit their responses in this way, please raise your own questions and answer those of others and yourselves in order to further the topic.


    (I am against the kind of public policy implemented by Grover Norquist and his accomplices, but I'm trying not to overly weigh in on the situation as topic creator. Though I may post later on in the topic with an increased bias.)

    Edit* Also if you see an unsubstantiated claim in the original post (though I've tried to keep it simple), do post about it so I can edit it out.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 17, 2012 #2
    This is a prime example of that. When a system doesn't prevent an individual or a group of individuals with money to exert so much influence over a party and policies, it's not protecting democracy. Even if there was a poll saying that 90% of people want taxes to be raised because of a deficit problem for example, because of Norquist there would be a massive resistance against that. Besides, he's basically excluding Republican candidates from being elected based on 1 single issue: taxes. That's an example of how money in politics undermines democracy.

    On the issue... IMO the government should have a balanced budget, it's just irrational to have an unbalanced budget for so long when there is no need for it. A deficit means taking money from American taxpayers to give to foreign investors and governments. And I think that'll be a problem in the future, sooner or later. It's just a matter of the bond yields rising to a certain point for the deficit to be a problem, and that's not an opinion.
    So to achieve a balanced budget without raising taxes, and assuming US economy won't grow that much for the tax revenue to grow much without raising taxes, you'll have to cut spending of course. Looking at the spending of the government (http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/), you can see that more than 50% of the budget goes to healthcare, pensions, education and welfare, while the budget deficit is an estimated $1.3 trillion for 2012 (http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/federal_deficit_chart.html)
    So I'd say eventually there will be cuts in these parts of the budget, which leads to me think it's not the right time to pledge not to raise taxes, taking into account the budget deficit of 8.8% of GDP, and the expenditures.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2012
  4. Sep 17, 2012 #3
    Keynesian economics demand governments go into debt during lean times, then pay back most of the borrowed money during prosperous times. This worked very well for a long time - before we stopped paying for our debt.

    A balanced budget is not a good idea. It's a much better idea to stop listening to Republicans on economics, particularly those who support Norquist. The greatest period of prosperity in the last several decades occurred when taxes were higher on the rich than they are now. The greatest period of prosperity in the last century occurred when taxes were much higher on the rich than they are now. Our economy did not collapse when the top tax rates were in the 75% range (under Kennedy) and 91% (under Eisenhower) - it grew, massively. At the very least this suggests that so-called "job creators", AKA the filthy rich, are not harmed by high taxes below some threshold (this threshold is actually based on a theoretical number known as the Laffer Curve, which shows when revenues start to decline because the industry is being stifled by excess taxes).

    In short, Norquist doesn't really know what he's talking about. Creating a less progressive tax system with lower taxes for all is a great way to get votes, but a bad way to stimulate the economy in the long term. It's not even that great at the former, given that the Republican Congress is about to get a great deal less Republican; the Republicans will almost certainly not take the Senate; and the Republicans will very likely not take the White House. Norquist failed, and the Republicans will realize it on November 7th.
     
  5. Sep 17, 2012 #4
    Sorry, what I really meant is that it's a bad idea to have a budget deficit for so many years without any reason. In times of crisis, I agree that it's ok to have a deficit. And when the economy is growing, there should be a surplus, like Keynes said.
     
  6. Sep 17, 2012 #5
    Then we agree. The last budget surplus occurred under Clinton. Then the Dot Com boom happened, which facilitated a descent into debt. But then Bush the Younger decides to cut taxes on the wealthy, and boom - back to hundreds of billions of dollars worth of annual deficits.
     
  7. Sep 19, 2012 #6

    mheslep

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    1. The '90's surplus was nearly gone before the tax cuts took effect in the 2000's, 2. The tax cuts were for almost everyone, certainly for more than just the wealthy, 3. lapsing the tax cuts on those over $200K/year will still leave a trillion dollar deficit.
     
  8. Sep 19, 2012 #7
    Please reread my post, specifically this part:

    I never said otherwise. If Bush had cut taxes only for the middle and lower classes, I would be happy. Instead he also chose to cut taxes for the rich that were already very low. As I keep pointing out, the top tier tax rate in the 50s was 91%. In Clinton's era, it was.. I believe 39%. Now, I'll submit that the 50s rate of 91% was for income that was, using inflated dollars, on incomes above 10 million or so (if memory serves), while the Clinton era rates were for a much lower income. Nevertheless, the Bush tax cuts served the moneyed class and facilitated our downward descent into debt and inequality.

    Really? The deficit projection for 2014 is less than seven hundred billion, even without any tax increases on the wealthy. Sounds to me like you haven't really examined the budget deficit at all.
     
  9. Sep 19, 2012 #8

    mheslep

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    No?
    As I and others keep pointing out a lower share of GDP was collected as tax revenue back then despite those higher tax rates, suggesting other explanations like income sheltering was going on.

    Reciting what the White House deficit will be is one thing, saying what it has been is another:
    $trillion
    2007 0.16
    2008 0.46
    2009 1.41
    2010 1.29
    2011 1.30
    2012 1.33
     
  10. Sep 19, 2012 #9
    Yes, the CBO are lying liars who lie to protect the lying liar Democrats from their evil deficits.

    Regardless, the deficit is projected to fall several hundred billion next year, and several hundred billion more the year after that, without doing anything else. There are numerous explanations as to why this will happen - Obamacare, the stimulus money running out, defense and entitlement cuts from the sequestration, expiration of the Bush tax cuts, etc, but the deficit will fall, and it will fall precipitously.
     
  11. Sep 19, 2012 #10

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Just as the Bush tax cuts expired several times already? The CBO bases the projections on what current law says, but history tells us the reality is very unlikely to match what the current law says.
     
  12. Sep 19, 2012 #11
    The only way the Bush tax cuts will remain, at least for the wealthy, will be if the Republicans win the House, the Senate, and the Presidency - and they'd probably need a veto-proof majority in the Senate to do so. Don't bet on it.
     
  13. Sep 19, 2012 #12

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Why do you say that? A Democratic President and Congress extended it in 2010. (I was wrong -- not several, just once). Why do you think they wouldn't next time?
     
  14. Sep 19, 2012 #13
    It was a compromise to ensure the continuity of emergency unemployment benefits at a time when unemployment was above 8%.

    In other words, the Republicans threatened to withhold benefits to people in a terrible economy because they didn't want rich people to pay more in taxes.

    When the Republicans lose badly, and lose they will, they won't be in a position to deny the Democrats their legislation. Norquist and his ilk will be thrown to the wayside once the Republicans realize they went way, way too far to the right after Obama's election.
     
  15. Sep 19, 2012 #14

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    That contradicts what you said above:
    Clearly, if the Democrats have a supermajority in both houses, they will be able to enact whatever legislation they want (though they declined to address this one when they had it last time). But there's a big difference between saying the Democrats will get a supermajority and saying that the Republicans need it: They didn't need it last time, so it doesn't make any sense to say they would need it next time.
     
  16. Sep 19, 2012 #15

    mheslep

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Throwing strawmen around doesn't advance your argument. I'm saying they're wrong on forecasts, mainly because they're required to tally up numbers based on what the White House or Congress says it will do, when everyone including CBO knows full well that come the future plans previously handed to CBO get changed. The Medicare doctor fix is a prominent example: the long term law says Medicare spending increases will be capped, and CBO scores accordingly, but every year the caps are removed.

    Yes, here's where CBO previously forecast the budget would be in surplus $80 billion *this* year.
    http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/ftpdocs/89xx/doc8917/01-23-2008_budgetoutlook.pdf (Summary Table 1).

    The sequestration 'cuts' are cuts to baseline increases in spending. *Actual* spending under sequestration increases, meaning more actual money will have to be borrowed or printed.
     
  17. Sep 19, 2012 #16
    The Democrats do not need a veto-proof majority to let the tax cuts expire. The Republicans do need a veto-proof majority to extend them, I do believe. Perhaps I'm wrong and reconciliation can be used - however, I'm not acquainted with the procedural rules for reconciliation, so I'm not entirely sure.
     
  18. Sep 19, 2012 #17

    mheslep

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Unless the Democratic Senate and the President go along to extend them as they did last time in 2010-11.
     
  19. Sep 19, 2012 #18
    If they do, I'll personally come and admit I'm wrong. But I doubt they will, given that Obama has ardently stated he will not agree to a compromise on this issue.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook