Point of View Columns

Who is This Guy?

The so-called Super Committee of the U.S. Congress, formed in the wreckage of this summer’s budget-deficit crisis, has failed to even come close to meeting its mission of setting a plan for a reasonable deficit reduction plan. “Reasonable”, in Planet Earth terms, would mean some reduction of government spending and a corresponding increase in tax revenues through the elimination of some deductions and selected increases in taxes. But “reasonable” does not translate into the lexicon of the G.O.Tea Party.

It turns out that all six Republican members of the have signed a “pledge” promoted by Americans for Tax Reform. The ATR sole founding principle is to oppose any tax increases –ever. The founder of ATR is one Grover Norquist. Mr. Norquist has managed to get over three hundred members of the United States Congress (House and Senate) to sign his mindless “pledge” effectively paralyzing any serious deliberation related to the budgetary process.

Since the critical function of the Congress relates to the budget, Mr. Norquist has effectively paralyzed the governmental process. If you want to know the father of last summer’s budget-deficit crisis, the DNA process would come up positive for Grover Norquist.

Grover Norquist is someone that most Americans have never heard of, who somehow wields incredible power in what used to be a democratic process. To be fair, Mr. Norquist has been honest in stating that his no tax pledge is a key element in a strategy to “shrink government to the point that it could be drowned in a bath tub”. One has to give him credit for particularly colorful terminology.

The goal of Grover Norquist is to actually, literally and really change the fundamental nature of this country. In the world of Mr. Norquist, there is no need for a robust federal government that would protect the poor, the weak, the environment or the future. In the Darwinian future that he envisions, it will be every rugged individual on his/her own, with losers being consigned to the American trash heap.

The ignorant aspect of the world according to Norquist is that these United States would not have achieved any level of real progress without a robust governmental structure – the Erie Canal, the transcontinental railroad, the Panama Canal, the W.P.A., the G.I. Bill, NASA and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are just a glimpse of the transformative actions of government that have provided an economy, society and nation that has produced a high standard of living for so many of its citizens.

The no tax pledge is the succulent apple offered by the serpent. Paying no taxes while being able to live in a functioning society is a pipe dream typically dreamt in an opium den. Grover Norquist would have you believe that no tax increases in a growing and expanding nation would be a good thing.

In point of fact, Supreme Court Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “Taxes is the price I pay for civilization”. Grover Norquist would have the American people believe that reducing the size and scope of government by strangling its revenue windpipe will make this country a better place.

Biting the apple full of worms and lies, members of Congress have signed on to a pledge that, taken to its logical extreme, will virtually eviscerate governmental processes leaving police, fire and minimal health and educational structures. The safety of the food supply, highways and airways and the arts will be left to “market forces”. The health, education and welfare of the American people will be left to those who have the resources to provide for themselves and whatever crumbs of charitable largesse that might be left over.

What is most interesting is that the G.O.Tea Party members of Congress who have signed Mr. Norquist’s “pledge” have seemingly let that “pledge” override the oath of office that was taken when they were sworn in as members of the House of Representatives or the Senate. Indeed that oath of office calls upon members of Congress to support the Constitution of the United States which, interestingly enough, does not contain a no tax pledge and does indeed call for Congress to impose taxes as may be necessary to provide for the defense and welfare of the country.

Mr. Norquist is the Wizard of Oz, hiding behind a curtain of not for profit secrecy (who funds his organization? Could the Koch brothers be far behind?). His vision of a country that would be bereft of progressive thought and an achievable future is dark and desolate yet the G.O.Tea Party members have boarded this ship to nowhere.

In November of 2012 Americans will have the opportunity to decide if this country should really be governed by single minded principles that have no relation to reality. Next year we can decide if someone died and left Grover Norquist in charge.