Hello Everyone,

The situation surrounding the so-called “fiscal cliff” cries out for comment. So, I thought I’d offer my two cents amid the avalanche of predictably conventional news coverage.

I don’t think this is only about revenues and spending cuts. I think it’s about restoring bipartisanship.

It seems to me that the President is – and should be – using this serious situation on the heels of his decisive re-election victory to finally end four years of Republican intransigence – their “just say no” strategy.

And, the key to that is to put an end to the protection racket that Grover Norquist has perpetrated on the U.S. Congress for years. (I use this terminology – which is unusually colorful for me in this space – intentionally.)

“Taxpayer Protection Pledge”
Mr. Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which has wreaked such havoc on our democratic processes, is astonishingly simple. It is all about tax rates and contains a mere sixty words. In two clauses, the pledge requires the signer to promise:

[1] to oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rate for individuals and/or businesses; and,

[2] to oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.

That’s it! Sixty puny words. Causing such gridlock.

If you haven’t actually seen it, I urge you to take a look at the House version in the Attachment.

Previous Obamagram
About a year ago, I wrote in #63, “Blocking Obama’s Bipartisan Promise”:

… there may be two primary causes why some are “disappointed” in President Obama – while I am not at all – high unemployment rates and unrelenting partisan wrangling in Washington. I will…mostly comment on the latter…

Bipartisanship
While there are undoubtedly manifold reasons for the partisan impasse that political scientists will discuss for years to come, there are a few that seem readily apparent already. They can be encapsulated by the old saying, “it takes two to tango.” And, Sen. Mitch McConnell and lobbyist Grover Norquist simply refuse to dance…

The Republican leadership, cleverly and cynically, recognized from the start that they could unilaterally deep-six Obama’s campaign promise [to be bipartisan]…

Sen. McConnell’s Goal
Senate Majority Leader McConnell blatantly revealed his strategy a mere month after the President was inaugurated, when he famously asserted, “the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” [The Senator, Carl Rove, and the Republican Super PACs must be greatly disappointed.]

Mr. Norquist’s Pledge
Similarly, another roadblock was being systematically constructed to stymie this president – Grover Norquist’s insidious “no new taxes” pledge. Mr. Norquist is the Republican lobbyist who founded a group called “Americans for Tax Reform” in 1985.

When I finally looked up the details, I was shocked to learn how effective Mr. Norquist has been in almost singlehandedly creating gridlock and blocking bipartisanship. As some of you already know, the British newspaper The Guardian reported that Mr. Norquist has gotten a written pledge from 238 (over 98%) of the 242 sitting Republican members of the House. That’s over 54% of all House members. No wonder Speaker Boehner can’t deliver on any bargain, grand or not.

And, Mr. Norquist got the same pledge from 41 (over 87%) of the 47 sitting Republican senators…

As a result of the November elections, it is estimated that at least 20 fewer House Republicans will have signed the pledge, a decline of about five percentage points. Senate Republican signatories remain at 87%, although with two fewer seats. Both levels are still laughably high.

Obscurity
That dastardly pledge has become the centerpiece of Mr. Norquist’s reign of terror or extortion campaign. If you don’t sign it, he and his co-conspirators will actively seek to block your election, summoning opposing Republican candidates who have complied and raising money for them. The political equivalent of breaking your kneecaps. As you can see, he has been incredibly effective.

I believe the pledge has become the lynchpin of the Republican’s obstructionist strategy. Remove the lynchpin, the obstruction starts to collapse. That is why, in my opinion, President Obama is so doggedly focused on increasing tax rates, not just raising revenues, by ending President Bush’s “temporary” tax cuts for the “top 2%.” He is fighting to shred the pledge and return the bespectacled bully, Mr. Norquist, to his rightful obscurity. I am confident the President will prevail.

Please, as always, pass it on. And, remember that previous Obamagrams are stored on www.obamagrams.com

Chuck

adobe pdf file

   Attachment – Congressional_pledge(1)

 

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