Norquist Compares Daniels to Nazi Reenactor

October 17th, 2010 at 3:36 am | 12 Comments |

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Politico reports:

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has now managed to alienate prominent social and fiscal conservatives.

The potential presidential candidate’s already rocky path to the Republican nomination became more treacherous this weekend after the country’s most powerful anti-tax activist and one of the House’s most respected fiscal conservatives disparaged Daniels’ openness to considering a controversial value added tax as part of a larger tax system overhaul.

“This is outside the bounds of acceptable modern Republican thought, and it is only the zone of extremely left-wing Democrats who publicly talk about those things because all Democrats pretending to be moderates wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot poll,” Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist told POLITICO. “Absent some explanation, such as large quantities of crystal meth, this is disqualifying. This is beyond the pale.”

Leading social conservatives, meanwhile, remain livid about the “truce” Daniels proposed over traditional hot-button issues like abortion this summer.

Taking on his party’s shibboleths is certainly nervy, even for someone who has positioned himself to become the tell-it-like-it-is candidate. The question becomes whether the strategy is savvy or naïve.

Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.) got 154 House Republicans to sign a letter in May that strongly opposed the so-called VAT, which slaps a tax on the estimated market value for products at every stage of production, after an Obama administration surrogate appeared to float putting it on the table.

Responding to Daniels’ comments, Pitts said Friday: “I don’t think a platform of new taxes on every American employer is what we need from a leader in the Republican party.”

An anti-VAT caucus in Congress counts 69 representatives and four senators as members. Its chairman, Rep. Wally Herger (R-Calif.), said Friday night that a VAT should not be part of fundamental reform because it’s a hidden tax that encourages more government spending.

Daniels sought to limit the fallout caused by his Thursday speech, delivered at a dinner sponsored by the conservative Hudson Institute in his honor. Spokeswoman Jane Jankowski insists he was not officially endorsing anything when he spoke fondly and approvingly of an obscure 1982 proposal by the late nuclear theorist Herman Kahn. She also reiterated that Daniels believes a VAT would be thinkable only as a total replacement of the current tax code and in conjunction with a flat income tax, not in addition to the current tax burden.

Daniels, who was George W. Bush’s first Office of Management and Budget director, was already skating on thin ice after he recently told Newsweek that “at some stage there could well be a tax increase.” He’s been one in only a handful of prominent elected Republicans refusing to sign the No New Taxes pledge, and he’s had the temerity to support tax hikes on wealthy residents of the Hoosier State.

For Norquist, the nuance included in Daniels’ VAT speech just doesn’t cut the mustard. He compared the governor to Republican House candidate Rich Iott, who was condemned last week for dressing as a Nazi in World War II reenactments.

“Ok and the guy in Ohio wasn’t really being a Nazi either. But he was dressing up like one,” Norquist said.

“I think speculating about a VAT is not quite up there with being a World War II reenactor, but its close,” he added. “Even if, in his mind, he was quoting somebody else’s ‘innovative thinking’ or something, it’s just a dangerous zone to go in … It’s playing with fire. And tossing it around causally as an idea is the kind of thing [Newt] Gingrich could do because everyone knows he might change his mind. But, if you’re trying to run as a steady-as-she-goes, solid Reagan Republican, it’s an odd approach.”

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12 Comments so far ↓

  • bamboozer

    As a long time Norquist detractor I find this statement , as ever, laughable. It’s like Tea Party Tools calling Obama a Muslim or Communist. That he used a source of irritation to the Republican Party, a Nazi re-enactor, as a pergorative term is especially absurd. No doubt advocacy of the flat tax, fair tax or whatever thier calling it today tax would have been acceptable. What this really illustrates is yet another Republican litmus test: Give me flat tax, or give you death!

  • Oldskool

    acceptable modern Republican thoughtScariest four words in the English language.

  • MurrayAbraham

    Grover Norquist, better known for helping Abramoff rip off Indian tribes.

    The last guy any decent person would want to be associated with. He should have gone to jail.

  • forkboy1965

    Oh what could I say about Norquist that hasn’t been said by others?

    I wonder… we keep hearing what taxes the GOP doesn’t like/want/etc., but what taxes do they like? Is there any tax the GOP and Tea Party can live with? There must be some way to fund the Federal government even if it were a very tiny one as envisioned by the GOP/TP.

    And if the Federal government shrank to “appropriate” size, then wouldn’t we see an explosive growth in the size of state and local governments, all geared to replace/supplant the programs and policies lost at the Federal level? Wouldn’t we then find ourselves, once again, arguing over what to tax, how much to tax, how to tax?

    I have yet to see any real plan from the Right indicating exactly how it plans to pay for government at any level. While I used to be able to vote for their candidates on occasion, I can no longer stomach such. Their blind allegiance to “Just Say No” to everything and their tolerance for the intolerant religious right have turned me off to the party completely. Not that I imagine they care, but there was a time they could regularly count upon me to pull the lever for their candidates.

    No more.

  • Rabiner

    He’s really comparing Nazi appeasement to a VAT tax? Talk about hyperbole.

  • easton

    “Ok and the guy in Ohio wasn’t really being a Nazi either. But he was dressing up like one,” Norquist said.

    “I think speculating about a VAT is not quite up there with being a World War II reenactor, but its close,” he added. “Even if, in his mind, he was quoting somebody else’s ‘innovative thinking’ or something, it’s just a dangerous zone to go in”

    Good lord is Norquist a fascist, who the hell is he is to decide who can say or think what? Look, make fun of the VAT, that is fine, but it ain’t Nazi Germany and how the hell is it dangerous?

    And I am with Murray above, he is a crook and he should have gone to jail, at the very least considering how much he enriched himself from other Republicans via sleaze he should at least be shunned by them.

  • buddyglass

    I have a lot more confidence in Daniels’ ability to evaluate the economic ramifications of a VAT tax than I do Norquist’s. The mere fact that Norquist went ballistic over the remarks damages his credibility as an objective evaluator of tax issues.

    Guys like Norquist like to invoke the Laffer curve and point to the fact that federal revenues have never exceeded ~20% GDP regardless of the tax code in place, and have averaged around 18%. They do this to counter idea that raising tax rates will generate more revenue. What they neglect to mention is that current revenue levels are well beneath this 14% per-GDP average.

    If 18% is the “normal” level for federal revenue then we’re currently operating at “sub-normal” levels. That seems to indicate the fed should collect more revenue. How best to do that is up for debate, of course.

  • buddyglass

    Err, that should read “well beneath this 18% per-GDP average”.

  • dmnolan

    If I could think of anything nice to say about Grover Norquist, I wouldn’t.

  • CD-Host

    If Daniels tells Norquist to stick it I might just have to start looking at him more seriously. This is a good test for Daniels to see if he is willing to run on what he thinks is right.

  • Houndentenor

    Will someone finally be honest with the American people? For once?

    Balancing the budget means big cuts in programs YOU like. Not just programs you don’t see any need for. Cutting the fraud and abuse in federal terms would be like finding a few coins in the sofa. Nice, but hardly the solution to your impending foreclosure.

    The flat tax would be a tax increase on most Americans. Why doesn’t anyone just say that?

  • buddyglass

    @Houndentenor: To make a finer point of it, if every income group’s percentage of income tax revenue were equal to its percentage of total income, then the bottom 90% of filers would have to pay more than they do now. The income cutoff for that would be (I think) around $115,000/year.

    Most flat tax proposals I’ve seen, however, include a large standard deduction that would reduce the tax on the lowest earners to zero.