Political Animal


November 13, 2012 10:42 AM Grover’s Lock on Congress Slipping?

By Ed Kilgore

An article by The Hill’s Russell Berman suggests that the control over the Republican Members of the U.S. House and Senate by Americans for Tax Reform chieftain Grover Norquist via his infamous “pledge” against votes for any new taxes could be slipping a bit, as some new Members are refusing to sign it and a few old Members are reneging.

With Democrats picking up seven or eight seats, that means the pledge guides fewer than the 218 [House] members needed for a majority. In the Senate, where Republicans lost two seats, just 39 members of the chamber are pledge-signers, according to the group’s records. That is a drop from 238 members of the House and 41 senators who committed to the pledge at the start of the 112th Congress.

If you’ll excuse me, I’m not ready to break into song and dance about Grover’s diminished clout.

If we were talking about, well, anybody else, a discussion of whether or not a private citizen running an advocacy group was or was not in the position to dictate the policies of one of the two major policies on the central issues facing the Congress and the country in the next hundred days—well, we’d probably be a bit alarmed.

We’ll soon know how much residual power Norquist has—and whether he feels the need to cut Republicans some slack—since John Boehner has already crossed an important line by suggesting House Republicans might support devoting revenues derived from “loophole closing” to deficit reduction rather than lower rates (in the context, of course, of a highly hypothetical deal with Democrats that includes some yet-to-be-defined version of “entitlement reform”).

But Grover Norquist really ought to be quoted at the end, not the beginning, of stories about taxes and spending and the direction of the country. He’s had an amazing if implausible run of political power for a guy who once drove Ralph Reed around Washington teaching him anarchist songs and hatred of the nation’s great memorials as “nauseating” displays of fascistic collectivism. It’s really time for him to go, but I doubt he’ll leave gracefully.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Peter C on November 13, 2012 10:57 AM:

    Hey! unless the Republicans craft a compromise with the Senate and Obama (yeah, right, they're SO good at that), then the Bush Tax cuts expire as they were designed to do. And, there is NOTHING that poor Grover can do about it.

    January 1st can't come soon enough!

  • Ronald on November 13, 2012 11:01 AM:

    He needs to be referred to as Grover 'Poopy Head' Norquist in all articles.
    That one comment alone should disqualify him from discussion at the 'Adults Table'.
    It won't, of course, because so many Republicans are 'in the tank' with him (and the threat of his money), but with a really harsh election cycle now behind us- with Teappers getting their butts handed to them, with Adelson's money unable to buy the Senate, let alone the White House, with most Republican candidates getting less votes than Romney in many areas- the whole 'join us or die' threat he posed is now passe.
    Poopy head. Really? I am still in shock that he actually used that term.

  • Perspecticus on November 13, 2012 11:09 AM:

    "If youíll excuse me, Iím not ready to break into song and dance about Groverís diminished clout."

    Agreed. If you remember, we have seen this before. Then Tea Parties became the fashion of the day and we had to start all over.

  • c u n d gulag on November 13, 2012 11:19 AM:

    I'd be hesitant about thinking that someone who uses the term "poopy-head" in public will leave the scene without an epic tantrum.

    "But you PROMISED! YOU PROMISED!! You signed a PLEDGE!!!"

    Yeah, Grover, they did - but your mistake was, you didn't make it a "blood oath!"

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on November 13, 2012 11:29 AM:

    Agree with Ronald.

    When I heard the blurb in the interview, I seriously thought: Wow, he didn't just say "poopy head", did he? Must have mis-heard him.

    Nope, he said "poopy head"... Seriously. Sounds like Grover's having a Little-Man Tantrum. Take your little Flintstone vitamin and be quiet.

    If the House Republicans care about their jobs, I would suggest they throw the filthy rich (and Grover) under the bus. I guess it was fine to pay lip-service to Grover before Obama wiped his ass with the GOP last week, but reality is dawning (I hope).

  • T2 on November 13, 2012 11:42 AM:

    judging from all the Conservative hand-wringing over their "surprise" loss in the election, I think they see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it's a train full of minorities heading straight for their "whites only" head. They saw the future last week, and it didn't include them. As Thomasky said "people aren't buying the Conservative B.S. any more". Norquist may not go quickly, but he'll go. Bobby Jindal sure jumped off the bandwagon quickly.

  • MuddyLee on November 13, 2012 11:52 AM:

    I would love to see some articles on Americans for Tax Reform - their membership, their organizational structure, their budget, their funding. Unlike for the NRA, I've never seen any bumper stickers to indicate any regular people (non-millionaires) are members of ATR. I understand that Norquist has weekly meetings - who attends them and why? Did they back candidates in the 2012 elections or run "social welfare" organization type ads? Other than the "no tax pledge", what do they do and when do they do it?
    Is ATR just a front for the Koch Brothers and other rich rightwingers?

  • Karen on November 13, 2012 1:14 PM:

    Gulag --

    Norquist will require all his candidates to pinky swear from now on.

  • BJ smith on November 13, 2012 2:23 PM:

    Only when he is gone forever can anybody start singing, Happy Days Are Here Again." Wishing Obama to take his time & do it right. After that, a day of praise, then Norquist fades away, never to be seen or heard from again.

  • BJ smith on November 13, 2012 2:25 PM:

    Only when he is gone forever can anybody start singing, Happy Days Are Here Again." Wishing Obama to take his time & do it right. After that, a day of praise, then Norquist fades away, never to be seen or heard from again.

  • GroverComeOver on November 13, 2012 2:53 PM:

    Could someone explain how Grover is really that powerful? Here's a thought experiment. Suppose Grover and his organization suddenly vaporized. Would the GOP suddenly support tax increases?

    LOL, no.

    So how much power does he _really_ have?