Stung by the reaction to his claim that letting the Bush tax cuts expire is not a violation of his no-tax pledge, Grover Norquist took to the New York Times op-ed page on Friday to defend himself and insisted the pledge isn’t an obstacle to a deficit deal.
In a piece headlined “Read My Lips: No New Taxes,” Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, restates his position first articulated on Thursday’s Washington Post editorial page that allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire would not break the pledge, which he says has been signed by 236 House members and 41 senators.
“There has been much confusion — some of it my fault — over whether the ending of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts or the A.M.T. “patches,” scheduled for Dec. 31, 2012, should count as a tax hike,” he wrote. “If they are ended, the government will take in nearly $4 trillion more over the next decade than if they remain.
“My position, and the implications of the pledge regarding such “temporary” tax cuts, is clear. If there were no vote in Congress and taxes rose automatically, then no politicians would have voted for higher taxes and no elected official would have broken his or her pledge.”
After a rapid pile-on Thursday from Democrats urging Republicans to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire, Norquist defines exactly what he considers the pledge to mean: It does not inherently prevent signers from voting to raise the debt ceiling, he said.
Norquist wrote: “Others have tried to redefine ‘tax increase,’ specifically by arguing that eliminating a tax credit, exclusion or deduction in order to rake in more tax revenue should not count as a tax hike. The theory is that any dollar the government failed to take from you in taxes had in fact been given to you in a spending program. By this reasoning, the deduction-killing Alternative Minimum Tax is not a tax hike — a cruel joke on the millions of Americans who get hit by it every year. When a mugger passes you on the street leaving you unmolested, he did not in fact give you your wallet.”
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