After the recent 2012 United States Elections and before the end of the 112th United States Congress, there are still issues that have to be dealt with. One of those issues is the “fiscal cliff” in which Republicans and Democrats are at odds with each other. However, this is one of the issues which is causing the GOP to having an identity crisis. With respects to the fiscal cliff, it focuses internal GOP problems when it comes to the economy. Due to the recent GOP losses in the US Senate, it brought up internal problems on a social level such as reaching out to various voting blocks on different social issues.
United States President Barack Obama, the re-elected Democratic incumbent, has been pushing for the US Congress to keep the tax cuts for the middle class. Today, he surrounded himself with taxpayers to give his point according to what the New York Times reported. Yesterday, Obama had met with small-business owners. On Friday, he's going to make the same case in Pennsylvania when he goes ahead and tours a factory.
So far, Obama has received criticism from both parties for waiting until now to address it to the public. According to executives from major corporations at a private meeting today, Obama seemed to be flexible on taxes. One executive said that most of them were not against the tax increases; but, they felt that a quick resolution would be helpful.
Furthermore, Obama is utilizing the one resource that has proven to be helpful to him in elections: the Internet. The Los Angeles Times reported that Obama is utilizing social media such as Twitter and Facebook to make his case.
However, as the LA Times also reports, Obama is facing opposition from GOP House Leader John Boehner. Boehner said that it was about principle when preventing tax increases on the wealthiest Americans.
Recently, GOP Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma said that the 98% of Americans are a priority. When interviewed by Reuters, Cole said that if there's an opportunity to save the tax cuts for a majority of Americans, then it should be taken. That did put Cole at odds with Boehner.
With regards to the fiscal cliff, a growing number of notable Republicans are speaking out against Grover Norquist who is the head of Americans for Tax Reform. This all started out by GOP Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia who said he'd be willing to violate Norquist's anti-tax pledge. Others such as GOP Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and GOP Representative Peter King of New York said the same thing; but, they did give stipulations.
Despite members of the GOP contemplating about breaking away from Norquist, they have yet to actually do it. Norquist is still standing strong. To those that do actually break the pledge, Norquist said he'd go after them and make sure they'd lose their seats. With the growing number of Republicans that seem that they may break away from Norquist's pledge, Democrats are capitalizing by having an online petition called “TELL REPUBLICANS: DITCH THE NORQUIST PLEDGE.” The petition is looking to reach 250,000 signatures.
In an RTT News article, it seems that somebody might be willing to challenge Chambliss in a GOP primary. That person is Erick Erickson, who is a conservative blogger. He is the founder of RedState.com.
In response to the Republicans that say they are willing to break away from the pledge, Norquist fired back at the “Sugar-Plum Republicans.” The sugar-plum remark came as Norquist said that the GOP members have sugar-plum fairies dancing in their heads if they are open to breaking the anti-tax pledge.
So far, the biggest battle seems to be between Norquist and King. King, when talking about the anti-tax pledge, made comparisons to 1941 when the United States declared war against Japan. He said that the world's changed and the current economy is different from before.
Norquist fired back at King. He compared signing the anti-tax pledge to a wedding commitment. When talking about marriage, Norquist compared signing the pledge as making a marriage commitment to King's wife. King said that his wife would knock Norquist's head off.
In a CNN article, it talks about Norquist's anti-tax pledge and how it has survived challenges. Right now, this is a challenge that the pledge is facing. When on CNN, Norquist compared dissent to when someone burps or when someone goes to see a specific movie a number of times. In this respect, Norquist is not fazed at all by possible GOP dissent and believes that the pledge is going to hold firm through all this.
The article does point out that Norquist has never held a public office or Cabinet post. Also, he's not a big money donor. At the same time, it points out that Norquist is a powerful figure in Washington DC.
In a blog post on The Nation, Norquist's financial power comes from The Center to Protect Patients Rights and Crossroads GPS. The former donated $4,189,000 to Norquist's group while Crossroads GPS donated $4 million. The former is funded by a group of billionaires led by the Koch brothers while the latter run by Karl Rove. Rove was the Chief of Staff under the administration of former US President George W. Bush.
An article on TIME Swampland says that both Norquist and his pledge will “live” through this. While there are a number of Republicans entertaining the idea, it is only a small number. It gives specific information on why Norquist will survive through this. The article mentioned Jack Abramoff, who was a powerful lobbyist. Norquist is mentioned a number of times in the Jack Abramoff documentary called “Casino Jack.” There was a live-action drama that was made as well.
A Washington Post blog entry says that Norquist is winning this battle. It pointed out how Norquist is still in front of the cameras talking with reporters. The blog entry said not to take “face value” at Norquist's anti-tax pledge. The op-ed piece said that Norquist knows that the pledge will fall eventually; but, it's a matter how Norquist wants it to fall. It talks about what “victory” is to Norquist at the end. According to this op-ed piece, Norquist's true victory is making sure that talks of even small tax increases become major issues.
With that respect, this seems similar to one of the quotes from this book called “Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai.” Pieces of this is narrated by Ghost Dog in the movie “Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai.” The one quote that parallels what the Washington Post op-ed piece says is this: “Among the maxims on Lord Naoshige's wall, there was this one: Masters of great concern should be treated lightly. Master Ittei commented, “Matters of small concern should be treated seriously.”
When reading the op-ed piece and correlating it with that quote, the similarities become apparent.
Despite a number of Republicans talking about violating the pledge, Norquist does have Republican support. In a Politico article, GOP Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky is giving his support to Norquist. Paul is a Tea-Party backed Republican. He is the son of Ron Paul. Rand Paul said that he's a big fan of Norquist's pledge. So far, Paul gave a lot of praise to Norquist.
In in the same Reuters article with Tom Cole, dated today November 28, says that the “cracks” are showing. Perhaps a few good cracks is all that's needed. This is pointed out by a Washington Post article published on November 26. In the article, it only takes a few powerful GOP members to violate the pledge. This is similar to exposing potential cracks and driving spikes into them. Thus, those cracks get bigger and become holes.
Norquist isn't just receiving criticism from politicians. One article on Business Insider talked about how Norquist's theories have proven to be untrue. The article said “laughably untrue.” But, the article says that it hasn't stopped Norquist.
Also, Norquist isn't just verbally throwing down with King. Billionaire businessman Warren Buffet gave his two cents. He wrote an op-ed for the NY Times. Simply put, Buffet said that higher taxes will not prevent the very rich from trying to make more money. He said that Norquist is just “imagining things.” Norquist responded that Buffet was being silly.
With everything that's going on with the fiscal cliff and the GOP, it's more than safe to say that Norquist still remains a major power player. In another Washington Post op-ed, it says that the Democrats could use their own version of Norquist. The piece says that Democrats need to stop elevating Norquist into a someone who's more powerful than he is.
Comedian Stephen Colbert, on his show, poked fun at Grover Norquist. He said that those are the two words that are terrifying for a Republican to hear. With respects to the anti-tax pledge, Colbert comically compared Norquist's pledge as making a deal with the Devil or signing a gym membership.
Asides from talking about “sugar-plum fairies,” Norquist also made an analogy about “pink unicorns.”
In regards to pink unicorns, he compares it to the GOP not breaking the pledge. Sooner or later, we'll learn whether or not “sugar plum fairies” and “pink unicorns” world. If that's the case, perhaps “Candy Mountain” also exists in this world.
As for the Republicans talking about breaking away from Norquist's anti-tax pledge, some figures are giving their support for the dissent. Christine Todd Whitman, the former GOP Governor of New Jersey, is giving her support for the break from Norquist's pledge. Whitman said by doing so, there's more breathing room.
Former GOP Senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming said that he'll "protect" the pledge-breakers.