The Washington Post today reports on a growing rift among Republicans, between those who are becoming willing to close a few corporate tax loopholes to help close the budget deficit and those who are sticking with their pledge never to ever raise taxes by a single cent on anyone or anything. In an interview, Grover Norquist, the pro-corporate powerhouse who has convinced 41 senators and 237 members of the House to sign his no-new-taxes-ever pledge, unintentionally cut to the center of the issue:
“This is a fantasy on the part of the liberal Democrats that the Republicans would be stupid enough to repeat 1990 and throw away a winning hand politically,” Norquist said. “Why would you elect a Republican Senate if they just sat down with Obama and raised everyone’s taxes?”
What Norquist and his buddies in Congress are hoping that Americans don’t catch on to is that when they’re talking about efforts to “raise everyone’s taxes,” they’re talking about a very small – and very rich – subset of “everyone.” Last year, President Obama cut taxes on the vast majority of middle class Americans. The tax hikes that are now on the table in bipartisan budget talks aren’t taxes on “everyone” – they’re reductions of the enormous tax breaks already enjoyed by big corporations and the closing of loopholes that let huge companies like G.E. get away without paying any taxes at all.
What some Republicans in Congress are beginning to admit and what voters are beginning to realize in greater numbers is that when Norquist talks about “raising everyone’s taxes,” he’s leaving out a pretty important asterisk.