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Grover Norquist has a warning for anyone who thinks the influential anti-tax advocate has lost power in Washington.
“No one is caving,” the head of the Americans for Tax Reformtold the Wall Street Journal, in a wide-ranging weekend interview.
Norquist — who built his power by getting hundreds of House Republicans and Congressional candidates to sign a pledge vowing to never raise taxes — has been perceived to be on the defensive since House Speaker John Boehner and even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested they would be open to new revenues in a compromise to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff.”
In the weeks since the election, as talks centered around a compromise, fear of violating Norquist’s pledge appeared to diminish.
But Norquist insists that the power dynamic has not changed, despite the re-election of President Obama and the apparent willingness of the GOP leadership to work with him to head off mandatory defense spending cuts and the expiration of the Bush tax cuts.
“For 20 years Democrats have tried over and over to trick Republicans into breaking the pledge. It hasn’t happened. This isn’t my first rodeo,” Norquist told the Journal.
“Nothing has changed on the chess board since Barack Obama agreed to extend all the Bush tax cuts two years ago. Exactly the same players. Republicans still control the House and Democrats still control the White House and the Senate.”
Norquist admits that a few politicians who signed his pledge are now having “impure thoughts,” worried that Republicans will be blamed for running the country over that “fiscal cliff.” However, he adds, “the media keeps interviewing the same five or so Republicans in Congress who want to cut a deal.”
He’s urging his troops to hold tight: “Even more than getting more revenues, (Democrats) want Republican fingerprints on tax increases so they can smash Republicans in the next series of elections.”