The move to impeach Barack Obama is moving forward — either in this term or, Heaven forfend, in the next. This week, one of the most influential conservative heavyweights raised the prospect of ignobly kicking the president out of office between elections. Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform is the author of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a promise signed by hundreds of office-seekers that under no circumstances will they raise taxes. On Thursday, Norquist told the National Journal:
NJ: At the end of 2012, a number of major tax provisions, including the Bush-era cuts, are set to expire. Do you have any predictions?
NORQUIST: We’re focused on the fact that there is this Damocles sword hanging over people’s head. What you don’t know is who will be in charge when all of this will happen. I think when we get through this election cycle, we’ll have a Republican majority, [though] not necessarily a strong majority in the Senate, and a majority in the House. The majority in the House will continue to be a Reagan majority, a conservative majority. Boehner never has to talk his delegation going further to the right.
If the Republicans have the House, Senate, and the presidency, I’m told that they could do an early budget vote—a reconciliation vote where you extend the Bush tax cuts out for a decade or five years. You take all of those issues off the table, and then say, “What do you want to do for tax reform?”
Then, the question is: “OK, what do we do about repatriation and all of the interesting stuff?” And, if you have a Republican president to go with a Republican House and Senate, then they pass the [Paul] Ryan plan [on Medicare].
NJ: What if the Democrats still have control? What’s your scenario then?
NORQUIST: Obama can sit there and let all the tax [cuts] lapse, and then the Republicans will have enough votes in the Senate in 2014 to impeach. The last year, he’s gone into this huddle where he does everything by executive order. He’s made no effort to work with Congress. (Emphasis added.)
Grover is no fly-by-night gadfly. He is one of the most powerful figures on the right-flank of the Republican Party. As his profile on Wikipedia states:
Norquist was listed as one of the five primary leaders of the post-Goldwater conservative movement by Nina Easton in her 2000 book, “Gang of Five”. Working with eventual Speaker Newt Gingrich, Norquist was one of the co-authors of the 1994 Contract with America, and helped to rally grassroots efforts, which Norquist later chronicled in his book Rock the House. Norquist also served as a campaign staff member on the 1988, 1992 and 1996 Republican Platform Committees.
Simply put, when Grover speaks, D.C. Republicans listen.
Norquist is a single-issue conservative. Although he has been associated with other intellectual undercurrents and movements — for instance, his support for anti-Communists in the 1980s and his more recent service in the National Rifle Association — he eats, sleeps, and breathes tax policy. In this week’s comments, he has laid down a potent marker for the president: If Obama goes forward with his plan for “job-killing tax increases” in 2013, Norquist will see that he is consigned to an early retirement.
It’s enough to make me wish momentarily that Obama had already raised taxes.
– Ben Johnson, The White House Watch.