In a true democracy, Grover Norquist would have no influence over taxes and economic priorities
Ben Chandler is the answer to an odd political trivia question: “Who is the only Democratic politician to sign Grover Norquist’s pledge to never raise taxes?”
If your first response to this was “A Democrat was on the list?” you are not alone. Sure, there are Dixiecrats and Blue Dogs and whatever creature Ben Nelson is. But Dems generally believe in taxes, even if they don’t always agree on how that money should be spent.
The long list of politicians that “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” ran contained notable and unknown Republicans who had given up their elected power to serve the people and only serve Norquist in his literally child-like vision of never raising taxes. Ever. Even if they hold their breath and turn blue.
When you research the Ben Chandler (D-KY) record, you aren’t terribly surprised by his stance. Even though red states such as Kentucky consistently get more from the federal government than they pay in taxes, the citizens feel like the feds are ripping them off.
Grover Norquist has been around longer than Foster Friese or Sheldon Adelson and has had longer-term influence on the Republican circles. But like the billionaires, Norquist is an unelected figurehead making a significant impact in U.S. politics.
You could argue that many of the GOP politicians (and Chandler) weren’t swayed by Norquist’s message; they feel strongly about not raising taxes even without signing a piece of paper. True, but the problem is that even though the pledge is literally not worth the price of the paper it’s on, these politicians feel bound to keep that “promise.”
For those in the red states, this funnel effect is amplified by even more tax money. If you put x amount in, you get x+ no matter how much you put into Washington. Think of it as a GroupOn but with tax dollars. The more you spend, the more you save.
Those in the blue states, willing to contribute what is needed (and no more) for a functioning society gets stuck paying out to red states that don’t want what is needed for a functioning society. This isn’t just about differences of opinion; the anti-tax people want to cut significant functions of our society.
Of course, we wouldn’t be in this mess without the Bush tax cuts and the two subsequent unpaid wars. And while we have blasted Obama for his stance on those tax cuts, it bears repeating that the Bush tax cuts will extend, at least, throughout all of Obama’s first term.
The two major political parties disagree on what tax money should be spent on. They also disagree on the idea of taxes, Ben Chandler excepted.
Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are the two major GOP contenders for the White House (sorry, Newt). Romney and Santorum have a similar economic approach: cut taxes on the rich, though Romney wants to make the rich richer to a stronger degree than Santorum. Gingrich’s numbers don’t add up, but he has given the economy more thought. Ron Paul wants to reduce our footprint in wars and the military, stances where liberals and Democratic people can agree. Don’t worry: there are still plenty of economic differences.
While Grover Norquist didn’t write the tax policy of either Romney or Santorum, his influence, deserved or not, weighs heavy on the discussion. That discussion, in the umpteen GOP debates and in the campaign, hasn’t reflected on what we are spending our money on, and whether we are making wise choices. Since the MSM takes its cue from the GOP, we aren’t having a mainstream discussion.
Liberals and conservatives are concerned about the debt and deficit. Liberals are more concerned about growing the economy. Better tax rates and improved tax revenue would solve most of these issues. Having the freedom to find the best solutions would be ideal, but having one party do so with one arm tied behind its back brings the conversation to a halt.