Grover Norquist insisted that reports of his tax pledge’s death have been greatly exaggerated and warned GOP lawmakers that President Obama’s proposal to avoid the fiscal cliff is not serious.
“This is a massive collection of spending increases and tax increases,” Norquist said on Sunday’s Meet the Press of the proposal presented to Congress by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner last week.
“Republicans want to continue the Bush tax cuts, and the extenders and the AMT [Alternative Minimum Tax] package… it’s the president who’s threatening to raise taxes if he stamps his feet and doesn’t get his way,” he said.
The Obama administration’s plan to avoid the fiscal cliff consists of a combination of raising $1.6 trillion in new taxes and making $600 billion in entitlement cuts. The plan, which closely resembled a previous offer from Obama, was reportedly met with laughter from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
In the same Meet the Press broadcast, Geithner challenged Republicans to submit their own proposal and said that, ultimately, recalcitrant GOP lawmakers would be responsible for pushing the country over the fiscal cliff with their refusal to raise tax rates on the top 2% of wage earners.
Norquist responded that raising revenues does not have to be a part of the budget deal. He reiterated that President Obama, and not Republicans who signed his pledge, showed unwillingness to compromise, before threatening even greater opposition.
“Tea Party two is going to dwarf Tea Party one,” he said.
After his fellow co-panelist, CNBC’s Jim Cramer, pointed out that precisely that attitude terrified investors and business leaders who believe the anti-tax crowd favors going over the fiscal cliff to prove a point, Norquist again pointed a finger at the Obama administration.
When asked “Are you over?” by host David Gregory, Norquist responded, “That was last week’s news,” before launching on an offensive about the Democratic plan.
But last week’s news may have spilled over into this week. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tn, who had signed Norquist’s pledge, also made an appearance on Sunday’s show and said unequivocally, “I am not obligated to any pledge other than my oath.”
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who appeared with Corker in the same segment Sunday, put Norquist’s role in the fiscal cliff negotiations more bluntly.
“I just met him for the first time this morning,” McCaskill said. “Nice to meet him. But, you know, who is he?”