Who Made Norquist’s Pledge Sacrosanct?

November 30th, 2011 at 11:14 am | 191 Comments |

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Grover Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge is not even 100 words long, yet it has been blamed for gridlock in Congress and for making it impossible for Republicans to make any constructive negotiations and compromises over the budget. Because of the importance of the pledge (which commits politicians to never raising income taxes) AEI hosted a debate between Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and New York Times columnist Ross Douthat.

The debate was on the topic of “Pledge or Wedge?” but it was not clear exactly what the debate was over. They did not frame the question as “does the Pledge reduce the size of government?” or “does the Pledge benefit the American people?” The two debaters thus focused on what they respectively liked and disliked about the pledge.

The debate covered a lot of ground that Norquist has clearly covered before. He effortlessly dismissed the question of whether he would accept a ratio of 100:1 spending cuts to tax increases by remarking “So you’re asking if I would rather have a Purple Unicorn or a Gold Unicorn?”

Norquist was clear: the pledge has been effective at getting Republicans to hold a hard line against tax increases and that the overwhelming majority of Republicans in Congress are committed to the principles of the pledge. This is true! Sure spending has not been brought far enough down, but now it’s clear that taxes are indeed off the table.

Douthat countered that when you look at the record, the pledge has done nothing to actually restrain the growth of government and it does not actually protect the best interests of the taxpayers. As he stated: “There’s this nagging problem that conservatives keep cutting taxes without cutting spending, and that spending has sort of blown up into a sort of world historical challenge facing the United States.”

But Douthat faced the challenge that Norquist has been highly effective in getting Republicans to commit to not raising taxes. Why would any conservative not like that?

Douthat hinted at an answer with a comment about the consequences of taxpayer pledges at the state level, noting what had happened in California which has restrictions written into its law on how it can raise its taxes: “California today is in a more dire position than the US was in the Clinton era when tax rates are higher then they are today.”

What happens if the Federal government becomes as restrictive on taxes as California is? First, the pledge makes it impossible for Republicans to negotiate for a fiscal consolidation that would be favorable to them. Douthat noted which fiscal consolidations actually worked: “The most success fiscal retrenchments, the ones that took and kept countries out of debt spirals, average 85% spending cuts to 15% tax increases. To me that sounds like a victory, to Grover that probably sounds like a sell-out.”

Second, the pledge might stick Republicans with an even worse outcome than a modest tax increase. It’s a fact of American political life that Democrats will sometimes win, and the pledge needs Republicans to have permanent political power to implement a budget with a 100:0 ratio on spending cuts to tax increases. This is extraordinarily unlikely. As Douthat reminded the audience, there are tax increases scheduled to go into effect in 2013 and Mitt Romney is not guaranteed to be the next President:

The goal of conservative public policy is not merely designing pledges that help Republicans win the next election, it is achieving the best interest of the American taxpayer in periods when Democrats are in power as well as Republicans, and in times of crisis as well as opportunity.

There were additional arguments Douthat did not make to Norquist which would have strengthened his argument. He did not say that the pledge nearly resulted in a failure to raise the debt ceiling which would have lead to a financial catastrophe. He did not point out that the pledge has lead to accelerated and automatic cuts to the defense budget which will have very real consequences for America’s foreign policy.

And most importantly, Douthat did not ask why Grover’s pledge and group have become the conscience for the entire Republican Party even though ATR is just a lobbying firm like any number of other ones in DC. (This question was broached from the audience in a round-about-way that asked about Grover’s lobbying against certain sales taxes but it was not framed explicitly.)

The question was not put to Grover: Why does your pledge get to decide what sort of deal GOP senators get to make and does it have any relevance to the problems they are trying to solve?

Recent Posts by Noah Kristula-Green



191 Comments so far ↓

  • PracticalGirl

    Why is the pledge sacrosanct? Because Republican politicians are scared witless of him and his organization. Why?

    Perhaps it’s because Norquist has been woven into the political fabric of “successful” tax cutting politicians like George W Bush. When Bush needed help crafting a tax cut package, Grover was a major part of it.

    Perhaps it’s because the conservative media like WSJ has elevated him to godlike status in conservative circles.

    Or maybe it’s because Norquist’s Americans For Tax Reform is a relatively shady organization that refuses to disclose it’s major funding sources. Since those sources are largely believed to be Big Business, which in turn is a major funding source for GOP election campaigns, no Republican who wants to keep (or get) an elected position dares buck him.

    Whatever the reason that GOP politicians cower under his rule, one thing is certain. Free of any accountability to any voter base or the country’s financial health at large, Norquist will continue to wield his power from his $200,000 part-time post at AFTR. He doesn’t have to care about the country’s financial health, just his own.

    • Solo4114

      But that begs the question of why any of this is effective. The answer to which is simple: People like taxes being lower, and they’ll vote for folks who lower taxes. Sometimes those same people want taxes raised on other people, but they always want them lower for themselves. So, if you can generically position yourself as a “tax cutter,” that’s good — even if your tax cutting only benefits the upper echelons of our economy. Because it’s not about who you cut taxes for, but rather that you are “a tax cutter.”

      • PracticalGirl

        Yes. The simple answer to Noah’s original quesiton is: The Republican base, led by their elected officials and their media arm which boils every issue down to a tasty soundbite-”tax cutter”- that is easily digestible.

      • valkayec

        Yes, people like lower taxes but if given a vision of a better nation or a nation paying for the vision of hugely advanced technology, will voters choose to turn down those advanced technologies?

        Right now, I’m watching a show on space technology. In 1947, Arthur C. Clarke wrote about a satellite cluster that enable global wireless communications. We now have that form of communications…but it would not exist without federal government experimentation and expenditure. Norquist’s belief system would have precluded this type of innovation.

        Is that kind of innovation failure really what you want?

    • Graychin

      The “logic” behind Grover’s pledge is that tax cuts are the perfect free lunch. They pay for themselves (dontcha know!) in the economic growth that they produce.

      So why would anyone in his right mind vote to RAISE taxes, which would, conversely, actually COST government revenue and stifle economic growth (especially if applied to that wealthiest 0.1% who are “job creators”) ?

      The only people who would vote for any tax increase must be those awful Big Government Democrats who want to grow the government more and more, just because growing the government and high taxes are good things in themselves.

      (Isn’t it odd that Mitch McCoonnell is saying that he will block the extension of the payroll tax break unless it’s fully paid for? Isn’t that a break with Groverian orthodoxy?)

      • Carney

        All flushed and sweaty from your brave encounter with the straw man?

        Nobody has ever claimed that all tax cuts always cause enough growth to fully pay for themselves.

        However, the fact is that people respond to incentives, and many tax cuts often result, either in, yes, net revenue growth (especially over the long run), or, at least, less revenue loss than static analysis claims due to some of the loss being offset by growth.

        • PracticalGirl

          You’re ignoring the facts, at least when it comes to Norquist’s shining achievement: The Bush tax cuts. Sponsors of the 2001 and 2003 bills promised voters that the tax cuts would pay for themselves due to spurred investment. Yet, nothing was gained from those except a swollen deficit. Salaries were lower than pre-cut, revenues were lowered, jobs creation was at a standstill.

          No increased investment that led to anything but increased wealth for the top sliver, despite the fact that 1 out of every 8 dollars of the tax cuts went to the 1 in 1,000 taxpayers in the top tenth of 1 percent, the annual threshold for which was in the $2 million range. You know- the people that Republicans keep telling us “will invest” if we’ll just lower their taxes. This is a stupid game of “how low can you go” that plainly and simply doesn’t work for the economy.

          Face it. Norquist’s pledge has allowed abdication of judgement and responsibility by those who most need to excercise it, and it’s had disasterous consequences.

        • wileedog

          “However, the fact is that people respond to incentives, and many tax cuts often result, either in, yes, net revenue growth (especially over the long run)”

          Serious question, can you point out a period of time when this has actually happened? Taxes were cut and the results were, even eventually, net positive for revenues?

          Reagan cut taxes and then had to raise them 11 times to cover the shortfall. Bush the Elder cost himself a 2nd term because he had to continue to raise them to cover all of the damage Reagan’s cuts and increased spending had done. Bush Jr.’s tax cuts have been, of course, disastrous, although admittedly he doomed them with two wars and Medicare D.

          So seriously, I’d like to see the research if it exists. Has it been proven demonstrably anywhere (outside of the Heritage Foundation plz) that cutting taxes is enough economic growth incentive to outweigh the revenue loss? So far on the surface that looks to be a pretty resounding no….

        • ottovbvs

          “Nobody has ever claimed that all tax cuts always cause enough growth to fully pay for themselves.”

          Actually they have.

      • Chris Balsz

        Mitch understands that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, and if you stop taking money from current workers, the Treasury will not have those funds to issue to current beneficiaries. Pres. Obama admitted as much this summer, when he said he couldn’t pay Social Security checks if Congress wouldn’t let him borrow the money.

      • armstp

        If you cut taxes to zero, will they pay for themselves? Basically, where do you draw the line? And who gave Norquist the right to draw that line?

    • armstp

      Norquist’s power 100% comes from the amount of money he has. He only has the power to work against those GOP politicians in primaries and elections that go against his tax pledge because he has the money to do it.

      What is interesting in the 60 Minutes interview he did a few weeks ago was that when directly asked, he did not say what his sources of money were. I suspect that he has a very large amount of money (in the tens of millions for an annual budget) that come from the usual conservative sources (conservative corporations, wealthy conservative billionaires, etc.). He claims most of his money comes from small contributions, but that is complete BS, as if that were true then why is he so scare to tell us where his money comes from. Organizations like Move-On are not afraid to say where their money comes from.

      Lets not forget that Norquist himself has probably made millions from running his group, so to him this is also a business or a way to get rich. He many not even really care or even believe in his no-tax cause and may in fact only be in it for the money for himself. He very well may just be in it for the money. Like Murdoch or Dick Armey or Sarah Palin, all these guys are getting very wealthy off their “conservative” causes, so it is hard to tell whether these guys are just in it for the money or truly believe their own BS.

      • Banty

        “Norquist’s power 100% comes from the amount of money he has. He only has the power to work against those GOP politicians in primaries and elections that go against his tax pledge because he has the money to do it. ”

        Actually his power, as he points out in his 60 Minutes interview, is in his threat to primary candidates who ‘go back on’ his pledge.

        • armstp

          I don’t think you get the point. There is no threat from voters with no money. Norquist needs the ability to buy advertising, to organize, to get the word in order to campaign against those Republicans who have broken his pledge. He needs money to convince voters in the districts where a politician has gone against his pledge to not vote for that candidate because they broke the pledge. It is not automatic that a majority of voters are just going to vote against a candidate because he broke the pledge. Norquist’s big bucks are what scares Republicans.

          Potential for Campaign Spending Aids Norquist’s Influence – Anti-Tax Pledge strengthened by campaign spending

          “He [Norquist] doesn’t necessarily have to spend the money, just the threat of someone who is well-funded like he is being able to come in and spend a lot of money is a huge incentive and scares the bejesus out of candidates and members of Congress,” she says. “And people respond to that threat.”

          READ FULL ARTICLE HERE:

          http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2011/11/18/potential-for-campaign-spending-aids-norquists-influence

  • pinkelephant

    “He did not point out that the pledge has lead to accelerated and automatic cuts to the defense budget which will have very real consequences for America’s foreign policy.”

    Except in an attempt to avoid this consequence Republicans on the Supercommittee offered a deal that violated the ATR pledge by inreasing revenue in part by eliminating deductions. The Democrats rejected it because, one gathers, it didn’t violate the pledge enough.

  • balconesfault

    First, Norquist has come to be relied upon by a bunch of the 0.1%-ers who save an average of $150,000 each year the Bush Tax Cuts stay in place. They will throw their dollars where he needs to primary any candidate who bends on taxes, and that knowledge is enough to scare most of the GOP Congressmen into accepting his pledge – which allows him to leverage those dollars to be even more effective anytime anyone bends.

    The only way to reduce Norquists influence would be for the GOP as a whole to step away from it and take the position – “if we want tax cuts in the future, that means that sometimes there have to be tax increases as a correction as needed.” If everyone did that, then Norquist wouldn’t have enough dollars to mount all the necessary primary challenges simultaneously.

    But Boehner pretty much knows at this stage that if he leads such a movement, Eric Cantor, who is all in on Norquist from his time in the State House in Virginia, would have his head on a pike in an instant.

  • Carney

    I don’t think I support the pledge, because it has no exception for war. However, whining about it is ridiculous. The pledge doesn’t decide anything. And once taken it SHOULD be sacrosanct. The whole point of a pledge or any other promise is that you give your word of honor – it is binding upon you even if AND ESPECIALLY IF circumstance change or your preferences shift. That’s the whole POINT of a pledge; that’s the difference between it and a non-binding expressed statement of intent about the future.

    • Chris Balsz

      They don’t believe in honor. They believe the moral duty of the expanded welfare state trumps personal honor and the mandate of the ballot box. They want all politicians, regardless of personal or constituent opinion, to define the public good as more benefits and a greater share of GDP collected in taxes.

      • Watusie

        It must be crowded in your cubicle today, what with all those straw men hanging around…

        • Chris Balsz

          Meaning, you agree with Carney that a politician who signed the Norquist pledge and was elected endorsing it, must ignore Keynesian economic policies and vote his conscience? It’s only a “straw man fallacy” if nobody fits it. “Straw man” doesn’t mean “That’s an accurate description of my position but I don’t want you mentioning it.”

        • Watusie

          Meaning that anyone who takes the time to type “They don’t believe in honor. They believe the moral duty of the expanded welfare state trumps personal honor and the mandate of the ballot box. They want all politicians, regardless of personal or constituent opinion, to define the public good as more benefits and a greater share of GDP collected in taxes.” is a fool.

      • TerryF98

        “They don’t believe in honor. They believe the moral duty of the expanded welfare state trumps personal honor and the mandate of the ballot box.”

        Who elected Norquist at the ballot box? No one, ever.

        • Banty

          Bingo.

        • Chris Balsz

          Incumbent politicians were elected. When they are elected agreeing not to raise taxes, their judgment has been ratified by a majority of voters.

          If you truly think private citizens have no business commenting on the decisions of elected politicians, why are you commenting on the decisions of elected politicians? It reminds me of Democrats outraged that Dick Cheney was “usurping” the powers of the Presidency — by carrying out chores the President delegated to him.

      • indy

        They don’t believe in honor.

        I don’t believe in your definition of honor anyway. To me, these people appear to be signing away their honor in order to have the opportunity to grab at a brass ring that Norquist offers them. I find it crass and self-serving. People of principle don’t need to sign papers as proof of their principles.

    • PracticalGirl

      You were going strong with the first sentence, then tripped all over yourself.

      How can you say “the pledge doesn’t decide anything” and then proceed to say that it should be sacrosanct and defining, an elected official’s “word of honor” even if circumstances change?

      By your own explanation, the pledge-for those who take it and for the country held hostage by it- decides everything. It also seems to fly in the face of the oath of office elected officials take. Which “word of honor” is the most sacrosanct? Back to your first sentence. No way for Republican pledge takers to see thier way clear to paying for the defense of our country, if we need it, without breaking their “word of honor”.

      What do we call it when an elected official pledges an allegiance/concept/ideology to an organization that supercedes his sworn oath of office?

      • Chris Balsz

        There’s no conflict, since any deficit can be made good entirely by reducing spending.

        • TerryF98

          How are those Bush tax cuts working out for you!

          Sure looks like a disaster to me, then I believe in facts.

        • Chris Balsz

          Then why do you argue with guesses about what’s going to happen over the next eight years?

          BTW

          “Social Security expenditures exceeded the program’s non-interest income in 2010 for the first time since 1983. The $49 billion deficit last year (excluding interest income) and $46 billion projected deficit in 2011 are in large part due to the weakened economy and to downward income adjustments that correct for excess payroll tax revenue credited to the trust funds in earlier years. This deficit is expected to shrink to about $20 billion for years 2012-2014 as the economy strengthens. After 2014, cash deficits are expected to grow rapidly as the number of beneficiaries continues to grow at a substantially faster rate than the number of covered workers. Through 2022, the annual cash deficits will be made up by redeeming trust fund assets from the General Fund of the Treasury. Because these redemptions will be less than interest earnings, trust fund balances will continue to grow. After 2022, trust fund assets will be redeemed in amounts that exceed interest earnings until trust fund reserves are exhausted in 2036, one year earlier than was projected last year. Thereafter, tax income would be sufficient to pay only about three-quarters of scheduled benefits through 2085.”
          http://www.ssa.gov/oact/trsum/index.html

          Why does your graph show present policies would reduce deficits during the years after 2014?

        • PracticalGirl

          “There’s no conflict, since any deficit can be made good entirely by reducing spending.”

          And they haven’t done it yet, even when they completely controlled every political body for 6 solid years.

          New GOPer slogan: Breaking The Pledge Since 2001

          New Conservative cry: But we’ll vote for you anyway, because we’re brainwashed!

        • Chris Balsz

          That’s not a problem with refusing to raise taxes. It’s a problem with refusing to cut spending.

        • Kevin B

          Congress has already agreed to cut spending, using the sequestration feature of the debt limit talks this past summer. They can override it using a scalpel instead of the sequestration machete, if they’re willing to do the work, but if everything keeps going the way it has been, the Bush/Obama tax cuts will expire and the sequestration spending cuts will go into effect in 2013.

        • wileedog

          There is a bit of a conflict, because any spending-only solution of enough magnitude to cover the current budget shortfall is going to include slashing Medicare and Social Security (unless the GOP suddenly decides to go all Ron Paul with the military, which we both know ain’t happening).

          I’m sure all of these guys who took ‘ol Grover’s Pledge campaigned to their constituents on lowering or at least not raising taxes. I bet not a one of them campaigned on gutting those folks Medicare and SS benefits to do it.

        • jakester

          You mean how Bush’s tax cut paid for the then upcoming War in Iraq?

      • Carney

        How can you say “the pledge doesn’t decide anything” and then proceed to say that it should be sacrosanct and defining, an elected official’s “word of honor” even if circumstances change? By your own explanation, the pledge-for those who take it and for the country held hostage by it- decides everything.

        My point was, the pledge is not a sentient entity. Constantly talking about it as if it had independent agency unto itself is absurd.

        What do we call it when an elected official pledges an allegiance/concept/ideology to an organization

        Pledge-takers pledge TO THE PEOPLE of their state or district, not to ATR. It’s there in writing.

    • jakester

      Sorry
      But a pledge given to a self serving, selfish lobbyist and his wedge group is just not that important. Grover is just a teabag extraordinaire who is more concerned about helping his rich patrons get richer than the rest of the nation.

      • Carney

        Right, there’s no such thing as sincere believers in libertarian ideology, limited government, low taxes, etc. There’s no intellectual tradition in political economy that has grown up around this set of ideas, no books or magazines or newsletters, no economists or activists. Very easy to dismiss people who disagree with you as being consciously insincere mercenaries.

    • Banty

      So, if I take a pledge to a toadstool, it’s sacrosanct?

      This isn’t all that much different …

      Norquist likes to say it’s really a pledge to “the people”, but as a people, I’m getting roundly sick and tired of that statement. I elect representatives, who may or may not raise taxes, I may or not agree with any specific tax. That’s the mechanism of governance regarding taxes, not some pledge to some self-appointed so and so.

    • think4yourself

      For the GOP, the pledge is a litmus test. You cannot be an elected GOP if you don’t agree to the pledge. For some it is about conscience. What it does do is continue to restrict the GOP to ONLY candidates that agree to a no tax position. If you think that is all the GOP stands for, that’s good. If you think, however that conservative (smaller gov’t with less intervention in peoples lives, fiscal responsibility) is greater than just lower taxes, then this pledge is bad for the GOP.

      Just like in certain Democratic circles abortion is a litmus test. For example, no politician that is not ardently pro gay rights will be elected in San Francisco. Because of that San Francisco does not get balanced representation (I remember a couple of year’s ago, two GOP candidates for Mayor (?), were both trying to prove they were not homophobic that they engaged in showering naked with other men (or something like that) – nothing of which had anything to do with good governance.

      Grover’s pledge is about as helpful to the GOP as showering naked with other men. It proves a point but doesn’t have anything to do with good governance.

  • Chris Balsz

    “Douthat hinted at an answer with a comment about the consequences of taxpayer pledges at the state level, noting what had happened in California which has restrictions written into its law on how it can raise its taxes: “California today is in a more dire position than the US was in the Clinton era when tax rates are higher then they are today.”

    California welcomes illegal immigration; it allows the voters to approve bond initiatives; it mandates that school spending remain a fixed percentage of the state budget; it has 230,000 state employees out of a population of 25,000,000; it has never accepted the federal guidelines for Welfare-to-Work limits of benefits; it allows public employees to collect retirement based on their last annual income – salary plus overtime plus accrued vacation time, and allows them to work another government job while collecting retirement for a previous position — earning another set of pension benefits; it also prides itself on the strictest environmental regulations in the country and is listed in the worst 5 states for business operations.

    So we have a state with 33% of the nation’s welfare cases, some 10% of the national illegal immigration population, state unemployment north of 11% and in some counties closer to 14%, a $20 billion deficit and uncontrollable finance costs because California won’t be recovering a AAA rating for the forseeable future. Oh, and they were able to raise taxes just fine over the last few years. California demonstrates the reason Republicans want to focus on cuts: you can mandate spending, but you can’t mandate revenues–you can only mandate rates, and then hope the economy delivers.

    • ottovbvs

      “it has 230,000 state employees out of a population of 25,000,000;”

      0.0092%…Wow

      • jdd_stl1

        0.92%, right?

      • balconesfault

        0.0092%

        Math fail.

        • ottovbvs

          I’ll slash my wrists particularly since the real figure is apparently 0.62%

        • Chris Balsz

          I’ve heard that makes you a liar.

        • ottovbvs

          “I’ve heard that makes you a liar.”

          The difference Balsz which you’re never going to understand is that I have no problem fessing up to error. That’s the difference you see between someone who makes the odd blooper (which we all do) and the committed congenital liar such as yourself.

        • Traveler

          Obfuscatory seems most apt. But your math was right the first time, so no need to apologize if correct data differs. :)

    • Frumplestiltskin

      Balsz is out in his fantasy land today surrounded by all his strawmen that he is jousting against. Such people as he have no honor. Look at this crackpottery: state unemployment north of 11% and in some counties closer to 14% (left unsaid therefore is that in many other counties it is therefore less than 11%, but math ain’t his strong suit)
      He also makes up his own facts, California has 37 million people, not 25 million. It does not have 33% of welfare recipients. I don’t know why I bother, the guy is out in la la land.
      California, if it were its own country, would be one of the wealthiest in the world. It has a dysfunctional state government, no one can deny this, but to pretend that it is a basket case is just delusion. California gets 79 cents back for every dollar it sends to the federal government. Its per capita income is much higher than the miserable red states like Mississippi, Alabama.
      GDP
      Rank State GDP ($Millions) Percentage of national GDP Population (Millions) GDP per capita ($) GDP equivalent per capita equivalent per capita (PPP)
      equivalent GDP per capita
      Rank
      1 California 1,936,400 13.34 37.3 51,914 Italy Sweden Norway 12

      • sweatyb

        +1

      • ottovbvs

        “Such people as he have no honor.”

        You mean he’s a liar? Shocking.

      • Chris Balsz

        “Balsz is out in his fantasy land today surrounded by all his strawmen that he is jousting against. Such people as he have no honor. Look at this crackpottery: state unemployment north of 11% and in some counties closer to 14% (left unsaid therefore is that in many other counties it is therefore less than 11%, but math ain’t his strong suit)
        He also makes up his own facts, California has 37 million people, not 25 million. It does not have 33% of welfare recipients. I don’t know why I bother, the guy is out in la la land.
        California, if it were its own country, would be one of the wealthiest in the world. It has a dysfunctional state government, no one can deny this, but to pretend that it is a basket case is just delusion. California gets 79 cents back for every dollar it sends to the federal government. Its per capita income is much higher than the miserable red states like Mississippi, Alabama.”

        Go ahead and post this in the EDD offices in San Bernardino County. I’m sure it will inspire the unemployed.

        • ottovbvs

          “I’m sure it will inspire the unemployed.”

          When Balsz’s lies are disproved he can always fall back on he non sequitur, can’t you Balls

        • Chris Balsz

          Would you agree that California is in a “dire position”? Would you try to argue it is not in a dire position because some counties have less than 14% unemployment, it has better “per capita income” than some other states, and it gets back 79 cents for every dollar it sends to Washington? Aren’t those statistics completely irrelevant to the economic realities in California that might lead an observer to describe it as “dire”?

          If you don’t think California’s position is all that bad, I would guess that refutes the notion that the limitation on taxes in California have created a bad situation here. But that would be examining a point of Democrat doctrine, instead of just accepting and repeating it.

        • Chris Balsz

          BTW Chris Balsz actually is my name. So rather than leave up a post where you abuse interstate electronic communications by threatening a named individual with strangulation, why don’t you delete it. I’d take that positive act as proof you didn’t mean anything serious by it.

        • ottovbvs

          “Would you agree that California is in a “dire position”?”

          Balsz….you’ve now moved from claims that CA was more or less the worst place in America backed up with all sorts of incorrect or distorted statements to a position where its condition is merely dire which is also an exaggeration. As is well known CA has budget problems that are largely the product of a tax system that is overly reliant on income taxes which makes it vulnerable to economic downturns. Do you know what a denominator is? This system along with various other rather stupid initiatives that make the state hard to govern is the product of Republican inspired popular votes that have more or less crippled state govt as the previous Republican governor found to his cost. I’m heading out there for a month next week so I’ll be able to see just how “dire” things are.

        • ottovbvs

          “by threatening a named individual with strangulation,”

          Entirely in your vivid imagination. The humorless liar. The very worst sort. How would I transport The Garotte to your residence wherever that is? They’re rather bulky.

    • indy

      Are you a crazy person?

      California has a population of 37 million, not 25 million. The number of state workers is therefore I believe the 2nd lowest in the nation as a percentage (I didn’t look it up so I could be wrong). This isn’t anything to brag about, particularly, it’s just a consequence of the economy of scale. At the other end of the spectrum is Wyoming, which again doesn’t say anything much except they have a low population and a pretty big state to take care of. That’s when having 2% of the Senators for .1% of the population comes in mighty handy.

      It has 13% of the GDP of the United States, the 8th largest economy in the world (which means SOMEBODY must like the business conditions), and 12% of the US population, so having ONLY 10% of the illegals means it’s doing pretty well.

      That’s not to say California doesn’t have plenty of self-inflicted wounds—it does—but they aren’t always the result of right-wing pet peeves.

      • Frumplestiltskin

        I really do think that Balsz must be crazy, it is like he makes facts up and then posts them. How he could have gotten such a basic fact as the pop. of California so wrong shows he ain’t playing with a full deck. If he said 35 million, I would have said fine, but it was just an absolute nutty statement. Might as well say NYC has 10 people, but 2,000 of those 10 are illegals on welfare.

        • PracticalGirl

          Balsz isn’t crazy. He’s just under the influence of right wing propaganda and in love with repeating it in hopes that he’ll sound “original”. He should be pitied and prayed for, if you’re the praying type. Or backed away from, if you’re skittish.

        • ottovbvs

          The Garotte sounds better to me.

      • sweatyb

        +1 too

      • indy

        Economix FTW!

        http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/01/where-public-workers-run-the-show/

        As a percentage of all employees in the state (rather than as a percentage of population), California is 26 out of 50.

        With a very interesting quote:

        There does indeed seem to be a negative relationship between the two measures. That is, the more dominated a state is by public-sector workers, the less likely that state was to vote for the Democratic presidential candidate.

      • Chris Balsz

        So…Douthat is wrong, California doesn’t show the problems inherent with restrictions on tax hikes?

        Or is it subjective, depending on the partisan purpose of examining the numbers — California has a lousy economy in that taxes can’t be raised by 51% of both chambers of the Legislature, but it’s doing fine if spending is being criticized?

        • TerryF98

          As others have said Balsz is a lunatic living in a fact free environment that is part inside his head and part in Faux news land where as we know people are less well informed than if they watch zero TV.

        • Chris Balsz

          Does the awful situation of California demonstrate a policy point, or, is the situation here not so bad?

        • indy

          Be my guest and criticize California’s spending all you want. I might even help you. But I do ask that you do it accurately and not try to sneak in erroneous, misleading, or non relevant information to conform to the outlines of your ideological straightjacket.

        • Chris Balsz

          I relied on memory as to the population of California without looking it up. Apparently I botched it. Your objection to erroneous information is well taken.

          As for “irrelevant and misleading”, it’s well known that illegal immigrants are more reliant on walk-in government services, and our budget problems have not been eased by recent tax hikes, because our economy has continued to sink. Sure we’re the “8th largest economy in the world”–when Schwarzenegger ran for re-election that figure was “6th largest economy”. It’s the expenditures, not “low rates” that are sinking us. Google the Proposition 98 controversy with Schwarzenegger to see what I mean.

        • ottovbvs

          “when Schwarzenegger ran for re-election that figure was “6th largest economy”.

          When Arnold ran for re-election in November 2006 it was almost exactly coincidental with the popping of the real estate bubble which disproportionately affected CA and ushered in the worst financial crisis/economic recession this country has faced since the thirties. Because of various voter initiatives CA is overly dependant on income taxes to fund it’s budget. So economic collapse = revenue collapse = budget crisis.

      • CautiousProgressive

        +1 for indy’s highly effective fact-based rebuttal

    • Marquis

      I live in California and this man hit the nail on the head.

      Just a few ways Californians are being driven out of California:

      1) Appeasing the prison guards’ union while making the UC-CSU-CC system – California’s crown jewl – ever more unaffordable by the day.

      2) Putting a new bond measure on the ballot for every conceivable “necessary” expense – despite the fact that a recent poll showed that most voters don’t even know what the hell a bond measure is.

      3) Jerry Brown passing the Dream Act at 2 o’clock in the morning in the hope that Gil Cedillo’s illegal alien supporters will be satisfied – and the media and voters won’t notice. Gotta look out for #1, right?

      • valkayec

        Whoa, sonny, I gotta disagree.

        1) – The vast expenditure on prisons is a result of corporate lobbing combined with prison guard lobbying. Let’s not forget that corporate factor in causing the state to spend more on prisons than on higher education. Also, the federal government owes CA a bucket load of money for warehousing all those picked up by INS, as our previous governor often proclaimed.

        2) – If the state had pushed through, via corporate lobbying efforts, a measure to incarcerate everyone at maximum penalties for minor 3rd crimes, the state might not have such a huge prison population. Does anyone really believe that a pothead really needs to spend 15 or 20 years in prison because of a third conviction?

        3) – Can’t blame the CA legislature or governor for the massive number of bond measures. You have to go back to the early 20th C. to lay that blame. What is wrong is the failure to show the true economic analysis – both benefits and costs – to the voting public. Personally, I’m in favor of some reform in the system since most voters have little understanding of the ROI of most measures. I also suspect that reform will come within the next decade or less.

        4) – Gov. Brown did not pass the Dream Act. He just signed the approved bill. Let’s get the terminology correct, shall we? Both houses of the Legislature passed the bill. The governor just signed it into law. By the way, what’s wrong with giving a kid a chance at citizenship if he or she fights for our country? They’re part of the 1% willing to do so.

      • Traveler

        Why is it that most of the conservative posters surfacing on this site are so full of crap? Just a rhetorical question…I mean, facts need not apply, so long as the talking point is there.

  • Oldskool

    All Douthat had to do was ask whats-his-face if increasing the deficit under Shrub was any different than raising taxes.

  • abc123

    It became this important when Republicans started turning on each other like a recreation of Lord of the Flies. Any politician that shows the slightest inclination to be anything but the most conservative person in the room is cannibalized by the rest and left for dead.

    The pledge is just one of many tools being used to remove the RINOs from the pack.

  • wanputtlun

    Edmund Burke made a distinction 200 years ago between a delegate and a representative. Norquist’s pledge blurs that distinction and redenders the GOP inflexible and ergo impotent. Facing the problems of the US and UK you just have to keep every tool available.

    David F. has made some incisive arguments for intelligent conservativism and surely wearing strait jackets can form no part of this.

  • ottovbvs

    Grover makes a nice living out of lobbying govt and influence peddling. WHAT’S HIS beef with govt?

    • AnBr

      And the GOP congressmen are holding a pledge to a lobbyist over that of their oath of office. “Borrow and spend Republicans.”

    • Marquis

      True, if you look at his biography, it seems like Norquist has never worked an honest day in his life. He’s spent his entire career as a conservative intellectual promulgating his own little ideas, never actually had to live with the consequences of them.

  • jdd_stl1

    This to me is another example of Republican disregard for expert analysis.
    The pledge is the heart and soul of the “Starve the beast” strategy.
    But experts seem to be lining up to say how that strategy is not working.

    http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Columns/2010/11/26/Bartlett-Starve-The-Beast.aspx#page1
    http://www.cato.org/pubs/journal/cj29n3/cj29n3-7.pdf
    http://www.cato.org/pubs/journal/cj26n3/cj26n3-8.pdf
    http://www.asymptosis.com/david-stockman-on-starving-the-beast-game-over.html
    http://elsa.berkeley.edu/~dromer/papers/Romer_BPEA_Reprint.pdf

    It is not causing spending to be controlled. But I am not sure those
    experts really understood the strategy. I believe the “Starve the beast”
    architects expected a catastrophe to eventually occur that would cause
    austerity cuts in spending to become essential.
    And here we are…

    Does any individual Republican have much choice but to sign the pledge?
    Norquist was brilliant in making the wording of the pledge between
    a politician and his/her constituents. He repeatedly reminds people that the
    pledge is not to him. But the problem with that is the threat is from him
    and his backers. If you don’t sign the pledge or you sign it and violate it,
    it is known that you will have a primary challenge next time out.

    During the 90′s we had pay-go as part of the Budget Enforcement Act
    under Bush I. It continued under Clinton and deficits came down.
    It was a more honest approach sometimes referred to as “Serve the check”.
    That is, let people know what their programs really cost and make them
    pay for it with the appropriate level of taxes.
    Under Bush II pay-go was allowed to expire because it was feared it
    would be used as a weapon against tax cuts.
    And here we are…

    • Marquis

      Of course expenditures haven’t decreased. Republicans realized that people actually like some of these programs.

  • zahnartz62

    The figures I have read are 2.2 Trillion lost taxes in Bush’s 8 years thanks to Grover(?)..but as they needed/wanted war, again..did not learn from VN..Cheny-Bush borrowed 3.3 T, most from China. There is a diagram purportedly by the US Treasury showing a total of 10T added to deficit by Bush. He wanted to be a “War President”. Please edit these figures if you have proper documentation. So Grover wants trickle down spending..that is golf club dues, yachts etc so he imposes his organization on America?? I saw a poster on the news this AM by a protestor “The 1% has bought our Government”! Have any arrogant GOP pols heard of the French Revolution? I am a former Republican..left when Pat Robertson was taken seriously..now 75 yrs,thank heaven. Grover should be charged with Treason. Poor America!

  • sweatyb

    But Douthat faced the challenge that Norquist has been highly effective in getting Republicans to commit to not raising taxes. Why would any conservative not like that?

    Because tax hikes and cuts are not a policy outcome. They are a tool.

    An intelligent person (whether “conservative” or “liberal”) forms an opinion about legislation that raises or lowers taxes based on the expected outcome of that legislation.

  • ottovbvs

    For those with a little patience they might enjoy this journey into the Libertarian future…

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/11/journey-into-a-libertarian-future-part-ii-%E2%80%93-the-strategy.html

    It’s worth taking five minutes to read.

    • mtyson

      Next time I’m thinking about setting up my own private Somalia, remind me to read this again to figure out just how to do it. What a hoot….

      • ottovbvs

        There’s a great line in that movie margin call where the villain says something like “It’s just pieces of paper with pictures on it so that we don’t have to kill each other for the next meal.”

  • midwest guy

    The funniest part of the whole “debate” is that somebody thought it was useful to pick Ross Douthat (GOP junior token spokesman-in-training) to debate Norquist. This is like asking David Addington to debate Dick Cheney on the merits of torture. Who arranged this debate? Truth is truly stranger than fiction…..

    • ottovbvs

      It is hilarious particularly when the NYT has the perfect (and extremely well qualified) alternative columnist available.

  • Diomedes

    Hard to believe that the country and its political system has been brought to a near standstill thanks to a pledge created by a guy named after a muppet.

  • TerryF98

    “Chris Balsz // Nov 30, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Then why do you argue with guesses about what’s going to happen over the next eight years?

    BTW

    “Social Security expenditures exceeded the program’s non-interest income in 2010 for the first time since 1983. The $49 billion deficit last year (excluding interest income) and $46 billion projected deficit in 2011 are in large part due to the weakened economy and to downward income adjustments that correct for excess payroll tax revenue credited to the trust funds in earlier years. This deficit is expected to shrink to about $20 billion for years 2012-2014 as the economy strengthens. After 2014, cash deficits are expected to grow rapidly as the number of beneficiaries continues to grow at a substantially faster rate than the number of covered workers. Through 2022, the annual cash deficits will be made up by redeeming trust fund assets from the General Fund of the Treasury. Because these redemptions will be less than interest earnings, trust fund balances will continue to grow. After 2022, trust fund assets will be redeemed in amounts that exceed interest earnings until trust fund reserves are exhausted in 2036, one year earlier than was projected last year. Thereafter, tax income would be sufficient to pay only about three-quarters of scheduled benefits through 2085.”
    http://www.ssa.gov/oact/trsum/index.html

    Why does your graph show present policies would reduce deficits during the years after 2014?”

    It’s a graph produced from numbers by the CBO. As you are ignorant, they are the non partisan body charged with providing facts and projections to government. So the figures til 2011 are hard numbers and the rest is a projection of what will happen based on present policy.

    You do know what a projection is do you?

    And the answer to your second question is included in the piece you spammed the site with. Please read and comprehend. I know it’s hard.

    • Chris Balsz

      Yes, I know the CBO makes predictions. It also fastidiously adheres to assumptions it is handed by the politicians who request the summaries. I did also read the paragraph I provided you, and it says during the period covered by your graph, Social Security will start looking to the Treasury to make good its payment obligations.

      • ottovbvs

        “and it says during the period covered by your graph, Social Security will start looking to the Treasury to make good its payment obligations.”

        By these means?

        “Through 2022, the annual cash deficits will be made up by redeeming trust fund assets from the General Fund of the Treasury.”

        • TerryF98

          Forget it. This guy is an educated idiot!

        • ottovbvs

          Actually he’s a awful liar which is why I find him so odious. He bloviates about honor while displaying total personal dishonesty It’s appalling.

        • Chris Balsz

          Yes. As we saw this past summer, Social Security can’t make its payments now without increasing the general indebtedness of the United States. The President told us so.

        • ottovbvs

          And your point is?

      • TerryF98

        It’s not a PREDICTION. (guess) it’s a PROJECTION. For eff’s sake. Do you know the difference?

        • Chris Balsz

          Yes. A PROJECTION is a verifiable calculation that rests on unverifiable PREDICTIONS.

        • ottovbvs

          “unverifiable PREDICTIONS.”

          All budgets are based on assumptions. They are not normally irrational assumptions and in those cases where they are the CBO invariably says so as they did for example when scoring Ryan’s budget proposals.

  • LFC

    Chris Balsz sputtered… “Why does your graph show present policies would reduce deficits during the years after 2014?”

    You quote a section of the Social Security Trustees report. Then you ask the question above. So you think the entire federal budget is 100% Social Security and no other factors can bring down the deficit? Why do you believe in such as simplistic view of the federal budget?

    Also, the report said interest income was used, not that there was an actual deficit. If using interest from the trust fund is a bad thing, are you advocating that the entire Social Security trust fund be defaulted upon and that the money borrowed from it should never be paid back from the general fund?

    • Chris Balsz

      “You quote a section of the Social Security Trustees report. Then you ask the question above. So you think the entire federal budget is 100% Social Security and no other factors can bring down the deficit? Why do you believe in such as simplistic view of the federal budget?”

      The graph refers to “present policies” that will lower the deficit. That’s pretty narrow, isn’t it? Seems to exclude all voluntary measures that might be altered.

      • TerryF98

        The graph actually shown debt PROJECTIONS under current policy. i.e with the Bush tax cuts, cost of the Bush wars and the effect of the Bush recession.

        It also shows a line where these are not a factor. That line has a steady decline from 2010.

        Can you read a graph?

        • LFC

          What is “no”, Alex?

        • ottovbvs

          Am I being unfair in calling him dishonest?…or do you think he’s been lobotomized? This is probably going to sound a bit pompous but I really do find something deeply offensive about constant lying. Shading the truth, witholding info, ok it’s politics, but constant and blatant lying is beyond the pale.

        • Chris Balsz

          What’s the growth rate of the US economy in 2012, according to this graph? Surely that has a big role in federal expenditures?

        • ottovbvs

          Maybe it is a lobotomy?

        • TerryF98

          Um! this graph does not plot GDP in any way shape or form. Unless you are reading the axis marked “Tool”

        • Traveler

          Ottovon, that would explain a lot. Loss of frontal cortex function is associated with a pathological disregard for others.

  • LFC

    Chris Balsz also sputtered… “Mitch understands that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme…”

    Why is it a Ponzi scheme? Because it requires an ever increasing population to work? I’ve got some bad news to break to you. The ENTIRE global economy is then a Ponzi scheme. If world population growth slows to 0% then everything collapses. All growth models are based upon increasing population.

    Have a nice day.

  • Margie

    I saw Grover on the Sunday shows. He said “they didn’t make the pledge to me, they made it to the American people!”. Last polls I saw, even the majority of Republicans wanted taxes raised on folks making $1,000,000+ to help pay for such things as an extension of the payroll tax holiday so wtf is Grover talking about? Shut up, that’s what.

  • LFC

    Der Spiegel has more ability to call out the GOP for what it really is than our supposed liberal mainstream media:

    http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2011/11/the-gop-from-abroad.html

    As the saying goes, “nailed it!”

    • valkayec

      OY! They got that one right. Of course, it won’t mean a thing to today’s Republicans because they don’t believe the opinions of anyone else (other than those espoused in Israel) in the world matters.

  • ottovbvs

    Oh boy, Bachmann just said she’d close down the US embassy in Iran if she becomes president!!!!!!!!!!!! You can’t make these bozos up.

  • Chris Balsz

    “Am I being unfair in calling him dishonest?…or do you think he’s been lobotomized? This is probably going to sound a bit pompous but I really do find something deeply offensive about constant lying. Shading the truth, witholding info, ok it’s politics, but constant and blatant lying is beyond the pale.”

    18 U.S.C. 875(c)
    (c) Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any
    communication containing any threat to kidnap any person or any
    threat to injure the person of another, shall be fined under this
    title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

    That would be you, Mr. X. I call you that because I haven’t paid $306 at the federal courthouse to sue Frumforum.com for operating a website where I could be threatened in violation of that statute, and served a subpoena for any and all records in their possession regarding “ottovbvs”. After I did that, within 30 days, I would know exactly what name and address you go by. You’re a reckless ass.

    • TerryF98

      You have about as much common sense as this guy.

      Can you find the right door out of here and into Fox Nation?

    • ottovbvs

      Balsz as well as being a fairly consistent abuser of the truth you are an extremely childish man. I look forward to a court deciding that a humorous reference to a Spanish instrument of execution constitutes a threat against your person. Would you have been happier if I’d said The Guillotine?

    • sweatyb

      boy done lost his mind!

    • nhthinker

      We all know elitist Ottovbvs run off from Huffington Post after being a pain in the ass. I expect it will happen in the FrumForum but it might not occur until after he loses face for backing the losing candidate and going completely off the rails (again?).

      • ottovbvs

        “We all know elitist Ottovbvs run off from Huffington Post”

        What is this obsession you have with Huffington Post? Is it the only other blog in the world or something. It might shock you to know I don’t post at Redstate, Puff Daddy or the Ladies Home Journal either. No doubt you find my constant pricking of your balloons annoying but do try to keep your apparent detestation of “elitists” within reasonable bounds.

    • Frumplestiltskin

      Balsz, good lord, Practical girl said you should either be prayed for or avoided, otto tongue in cheek said garroted would be better. Nowhere did he threaten to do the same to you or ask or petition anyone to do the same to you.
      If someone said “drop dead” I think you would probably run to the cops.
      I say all the time I hope that someone blows the brains out of Assad in Syria, should I be arrested? Just go away to redstate or other lunatic sites and stay away from here because you always embarrass yourself.

  • zaybu

    That the fundamentals of economic principles weren’t even discussed is appalling.

    It’s imperative to know two basic things about the economy: where the economy is at, and in which direction it is moving. This determines which policies the government ought to take. An informed citizen would then know if the politicians are using the correct tools that would stabilize the economy.

    Basic economics says that business will start new hiring when demand starts to increase. How can that happen? The answer is by expanding the money supply, meaning by putting more money into the hands of consumers, or through government spending which will put people directly into jobs. Also, consumers must have a general confidence in the economy. For instance, should you get $1000 in tax cuts, you might not want to spend it if you think that the economy is going to worsen, or that you might lose your job.

    The problem in the past is that governments were unwilling to use the surpluses to pay off the debt: they either created more programs (often the Democrats) or gave generous tax cuts (more often the Republicans), the result being that the national debt, instead of being wiped out, was increased — effectively digging the country into a bigger hole.

    This is a very important fact that has been lost over the decades. Governments must pay their debt when the economy is in full throttle, so that by the time of the next cycle of bust, they are in good financial standing to become the active player of big spender to stimulate the economy that has veered direction and is subject to a falling demand. Instead, we’ve accumulated deficit upon deficit even when the economy was in good shape, and so by the time the next recession hit us, and budgetary deficit was forced upon us, we got deeper into debts.

    BTW, this is NOT a Right versus Left issue, no more than Newton’s law of gravity is.

  • nhthinker

    58% of Americans think the federal government has too much power.
    To lessen power, you must starve the beast, to weaken it.
    That is exactly what made Norquist’s pledge sacrosanct.

    • ottovbvs

      And 71% think Lobbyists have too much power….And isn’t Grover Norquist a lobbyist? It sounds like we need to start starving Grover, he looks as if he could do with going on a diet.

      • nhthinker

        If the federal government budget was smaller, there would be less value to having so many lobbyists. Cutting taxes and filling loopholes, cuts the influences and power of lobbyists.

        • ottovbvs

          If the moon was made of cheese we’d be able to eat it. Non sequitur. Far more people think lobbyists like Norquist have too much power than do the Federal govt. Your own numbers say so!

        • Frumplestiltskin

          what is it with you people and your bizarre belief that less government equals awesome? Try and explain to me how the Lenni Lenape Indians had some wonderful nation but the Romans had nothing because they had a large government. Honestly, you are like a parody.
          “Oh my God, a lobbyist ate my baby.”

          And cutting taxes and filling loopholes does not lessen lobbyists. Reagan did just that and lobbyists sprung up to create new loopholes. Have you been even living on this planet or are you as far out there as apparently Balszy is? Or are the two of you the same person?

        • think4yourself

          @ NH “If the federal government budget was smaller, there would be less value to having so many lobbyists. Cutting taxes and filling loopholes, cuts the influences and power of lobbyists.”

          Evidence please? Or just Conservative dogma. First, I don’t see any GOP leaders really looking to cut loopholes – except loopholes that benefit Democratic supporters interests. Cutting taxes without cutting spending just means more competition for scarce resources – and greater opportunities for lobbyists to guide where those resources go.

          Lastly, in your chart, Lobbyists (63%), Major Corporations (58%), and banks and financial institutions (59%), all substantially trumped the power of Federal Gov’t. Perhaps we should do something about these in order of influence.

      • Banty

        My thought exactly. Nhthinker puts up this figure to show how many people think the gub’mint has too much power, and that ‘proves’ why Norquist’s pledge is sacrosanct.

        ‘cept Grover’s a lobbyist.

        … and the same figure shows even more people think lobbyists have too much power. Like, 13% more.

        I mean, did this guy read the figure he put up? Can he put two and two together?? Does he know how to THINK???

      • nhthinker

        Politician A can say she will lower taxes and signs Norquist’s pledge.
        Politician B can say he will get rid of lobbyists.

        If Politician A gets elected, then Norquist will assure the voters know if Politician A keeps her promise.

        Who assures Politician B keeps the lobbyist promise? No one.

        Norquist is attempting to create a quality control on branding for Republicans and it is having impact.

        Norquist is trying to create a brand loyalty by differentiation- Republicans should mean lower taxes. He is certainly upsetting Democrats- that is a bonus.

        Democrats pretend that lobbyists do not impact Washington Democrats. Wall Street, Freddy, Fannie, Solyndra… the list goes on and on and NO one holds Democrats feet to the fire when they do the bidding of lobbyists.

        Most Americans are smart enough to know that a smaller, less powerful government is more likely to be less corrupt and have less influence from lobbyists. I guess the Democrats here are not that smart.

        • TerryF98

          Again Norquist is a lobbyist! NH “thinker” is an oxymoron. Emphasis on the moron part.

          67% ot those “smart Americans” think Corporations have too much power. Time to cut those suckers down to size then “thinker”. I await your proposals.

          52% of these smart Americans thing unions have the right power or not enough power. So “thinker” how can we give them some more as “smart Americans” say it’s what they want.

        • think4yourself

          NH, what kind of fallacious argument is this? Politican A pledges no taxes (obviously GOP) and politician B pledges they will get rid of lobbyists (I’m assuming you mean “B” is a Democrat).

          I don’t see any politicians of either party promising to get rid of lobbyists – this is stupid argument and false comparison.

          “and NO one holds Democrats feet to the fire when they do the bidding of lobbyists.”

          Really? Apparently only Dems do the bidding of lobbyists? The GOP is apparently pure of listening to any lobbying group (NRA, wall street lobby groups, pro-life, etc., etc., etc.). Again a stupid and false comparison.

          “Most Americans are smart enough to know that a smaller, less powerful government is more likely to be less corrupt and have less influence from lobbyists. I guess the Democrats here are not that smart.”

          Really? Again false arguments. (a) Lower taxes mean less powerful government (no, it currently means a government that cannot pay it’s bills). (b) Smaller gov’t is less likely to be corrupt and have less lobbyist influence (first, please offer proof of this, second – smaller as compared to what – the US Federal Gov’t is one of the biggest institutions in the world. Other than Ron Paul, I don’t see anyone proposing to drastically shrink the size of the Federal Gov’t in any fashion – therefore by your logic there is no change to the amount and power of the lobbyists).

          NH, isn’t it time to be honest? Both Democrats and Republicans use and are used by lobbyists. Increasing or decreasing the size of the Federal gov’t by 5% – 10% won’t change the lobbyists power and influence. The courts have not held that lobbying is impermissible so those activities will continue. This is not a partisan issue where one party (the GOP) is any cleaner than the other.

    • valkayec

      I posit the majority the population is unaware of the amount of technologic and scientific research the federal government engages in doing…let alone how much of that research has led to new ideas and new companies. While you may choose to support, through your tax dollars, old technologies, I’m really interested in new technologies that only the federal government has the volume of dollars to advance. Think satellite wireless communications and cheap mass worldwide communications. Or the internet. Or the potential of inexpensive space travel that Arthur C. Clarke envisioned. All these require[d] government spending…and all are anathema to Norquist and his supporters vision for the United States.

      What has made the US unique – exceptional – is the national vision of this country as a leader in both all encompassing democracy as well as in technological advances. Without governmental financial support, the US would be no better, no more special, than Britain or France. Our exceptionalism is our imagination combined with our educational system and our federal government’s support of innovation.

      Norquist and his followers would deny all of these attributes which have made America great. If for no other reason, these alone should deny him any support and approval.

      • balconesfault

        I posit the majority the population is unaware of the amount of technologic and scientific research the federal government engages in doing…let alone how much of that research has led to new ideas and new companies.

        +1

  • Frumplestiltskin

    yes, but she promised to open an embassy in Freedonia.
    She is beyond stupid. I don’t even think a word exists to describe her.

  • valkayec

    Let’s face it, the entire political system is corrupted not just by the shackling of Norquist but by the existence of money buying politicians and influence. Think about a few other factors that prevent Congress from doing its Constitutional job:

    - Selling of committee seats and chairmanship to the highest fundraiser rather than seats allocated to the most qualified or knowledgeable. (Thanks, Gingrich.)

    - Eliminating or destroying the reputation of non-partisan, expert offices of independent research and information that would help Congress make informed decisions on issues with which they, individually, are not experts, as noted in several of today’s columns (Again, thanks, Gingrich!)

    - The ideological installation within the 1995 House of opponents as enemies that must be utterly destroyed, which continues to linger in the House and has moved to the Senate, but was anathema to previous generations of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. (Again, thanks, Gingrich!)

    - A Southern strategy that combined the religio-economic conservatives from the deep South to Orange County (see the rise of the Goldwater coalition) with the Reagan revolution that pitted race and economic classes against one another.

    - The transformation of Dick Cheney, the guiding light of Republican policies, from deficit hawk during the Reagan years to liberal tax cutter for the wealthy after leaving Halliburton to become Vice President, i.e. “we won so we can do whatever we want,” and tax cutting for the wealthy was one of his goals as Rolling Stone reported.

    - The gradual infiltration of selective libertarian ideas into the GOP, as a result of influential, wealthy patrons and partisans, and the promotion of those ideas amongst an ill-informed (low information) populace to support (and justify) the upward shift of wealth, regardless of the inevitable harm to the overall economy and political stability of the country. Looking back to the early modern and medieval eras of French and Russian governmental economic systems, in particular, lends perspective to the current route of US economic stability.

    - The rise of Republican think tanks, since the early ’80s, which recently have chosen to abandon solid research and data to promote staunch GOP ideology, regardless of empirical data…and, in addition, have chosen to become election funders thereby abandoning any gloss of purely research status.

    - Citizens United v FCC in which the SCOTUS gave free license to unending fundraising by equating money with free speech. As a practical result, those with the most money have the most speech. I’m sure Aristotle would be appalled at the how much oligarchy has won over republican values in our republican democracy.

    - A societal shift of values in which the wealthy are envied and favored over all other economic classes (quite the opposite from the ’30s in which the rich were popularly depicted as self indulgent, ignorant, selfish twits) and becoming wealthy (via any get rich quick scheme or religious meditation) became an absolute ideal, possibly as a result of falling incomes, lack of job respect and stability, and envy-oriented advertising.

    - The gradual move again to a millionaire’s Congress (see early 20th C. history and political corruption), seemingly more interested in protecting and preserving the wealthiest among us from any tax burden – including themselves – than in equitable tax policies and open, free markets with potentially market disrupting competitors.

    Norquist and his anti-good governance pledge is just one example of the decline of republican democracy that has infected our country. The OWS movement highlights the inequity, the lack of social mobility, and most of all the failure of government at all levels to address the decline and extreme economic burdens of the middle class. Any really honest, thinking person must acknowledge that current static GOP policies are anathema to the kind of democracy Jefferson and Madison envisioned, let alone that which TR hoped to achieve…and even Carnegie came to understand…to save capitalism from its worst effects on the economy and most importantly on society at large and democracy.

    If the attitude, amongst some of the most wealthy in our country grows, that the 99% of our country’s population offers the country nothing of value and that all economic value derives only from the top few percentages, then our country is truly in trouble. Our greatest inventors…and market disrupters…would never have enjoyed their opportunities to build great companies, often expanding upon research and investment begun by the federal government.

    Regardless of Norquist’s – and that of many others – erroneous belief that the federal government should do no more than pay for the military and all other functions are better left to the private sector, he and his ideological cohorts ignorant of he historic role the federal government has played since the nation’s inception in expanding economic opportunities for all American classes. Moreover, they fail to understand the economic turmoil – and millions of deaths – that caused the downfall of other governments which refused to accept economically democratic justice for all rather than just for the few very wealthy, powerful and well connected few.

    As I said, Norquist is but a symptom of all that is wrong – anti-democratic – within our society today. Nevertheless, he epitomizes the worst of that class of individuals that seeks to turn back the nation’s progress, both in terms of democratic, economic liberties as well as in effective good governance in a complex 21st Century.

    As a modest student of history, I firmly believe that any legislator who signs his pledge is either completely ignorant and should not hold office or fails to understand the vast economic roles governments must play in the 21st Century. In either case, Norquist’s pledge is destructive to our economy, our families, our communities, and our businesses.

    • TerryF98

      Well said.

      A pledge to Norquist is not democratic, it’s also unconstitutional. A representative of the people should not be making pledges to one person. Should not be subverting his oath of office and should not be operating against good governance.

    • balconesfault

      As I said, Norquist is but a symptom of all that is wrong – anti-democratic – within our society today. Nevertheless, he epitomizes the worst of that class of individuals that seeks to turn back the nation’s progress, both in terms of democratic, economic liberties as well as in effective good governance in a complex 21st Century.

      Very well put.

      But Norquist is not simply a symptom – he has served very well as a tool for that class of individuals who seek to turn back the progress you noted, because the increased wealth of the middle class during the 20th Century temporarily sidetracked their ability to completely control the political structure.

    • LFC

      Regardless of Norquist’s – and that of many others – erroneous belief that the federal government should do no more than pay for the military and all other functions are better left to the private sector, he and his ideological cohorts ignorant of he historic role the federal government has played since the nation’s inception in expanding economic opportunities for all American classes.

      I disagree. They are not ignorant of what has occurred. They know it well and they hate it. What they are angling for is to get rid of the expansion of the middle class and get us closer to a feudal system of old where the wealthy hold all the levers of power and can use them to protect their position. Barons and serfs, perfect together.

      I think the only tax Grover would ever support is a poll tax. If it cost $10,000 to vote then they could stop fighting all those pesky poor people (i.e. the 99%).

    • Cforchange

      Valk, I am so depressed reading this because this is reality.

      Terry +10 too. Pledge signing of any stripe shows that your government representation may not represent you. Even though this has occurred with the assistance of smoke and mirrors – signing a pledge is so “honest” it’s unbelievable.

      Defy Norquist and the GOP coalition will explode. It simply hasn’t mattered what government does as long as the taxes to Norquist’s flock do not increase. It hasn’t mattered that the safety net or many other government functions haven’t worked properly. That is as long as taxes to the big or potentially big payer remains flat.

      But greatly increase the population who arrive without fiscal consideration and in concert turn on the tax increases to those at the top of the food chain and the incompatibility issue within the GOP will be exposed. This can’t happen soon enough.

      If the majority votes 2012 because they believe that tax increases and program reforms are the mix – the GOP is in a sticky wicket. If you’re die hard GOPer these days, your either anti choice and/or ultra rich. Is that 51%, hmmm.

  • nhthinker

    Americans expect to wield more control over government than they do over corporations.
    Many still believe in a free market economy. Heck, even many Chinese believe in free market more than some lefty Americans.

    • TerryF98

      Yet 67% believe corporations have too much power, so they wish them to have less power, so they would like to have more control over them surely.

      How is that cherry picking going for ya. Picked a barrel load yet?

      • nhthinker

        “Yet 67% believe corporations have too much power, so they wish them to have less power, so they would like to have more control over them surely. ”

        TerryF98 is a mind reader – He is delusional about answers to poll questions that have not been asked.

        Practically everyone wants to be rich too- It does not mean a majority believes in the redistribution of wealth. Most still believe in the Constitutional limitations of the power of the federal government and also believe in the free market economy.

        • more5600

          Is it really so hard to believe that Americans suffering the worst economic conditions in many generations would tend to lose faith in the American form of a “free” market economy while seeing China growing at 10% annually and think the Chinese system is working better for its people. Whether that be true or not the perception is that the American system is broken, and that is a well founded perception and the Chinese system is producing.

          It’s not a partisan issue so I’m not sure why you are making it one, people are unhappy with the post-Reagan economy which has continued under Democratic and Republican administrations, reaching an absolute crescendo in the mid 2000′s and then the crash.

          Look at the graph, the downturn perfectly corresponds to the financial meltdown, Q4 2008. It’s more psychology than political science.

    • valkayec

      Heck, even many Chinese believe in free market more than some lefty Americans.

      Bull pucky! It’s obvious you know nothing about the left or their thinking. I consider myself to the political left; yet, I have great admiration for our innovative companies, huge admiration for science and technology, and great thankfulness for the vast amounts of dollars spent by the federal government to advance technology and research. Heck, as a young employee freshly out of college I got to tour JPL and talk to the scientists who worked on the Saturn missions. Without governmental support, we wouldn’t have had debit cards when we did – yeah, I was in on their introduction too.

      It’s obviously low information voters like you – those who have no clue how much our government supports innovation and technology – that line up behind twits like Norquist to hamstring our economy and our country. Lefties, as you derogatorily call them, might be a whole lot brighter about our economy, our competitive edge and our companies than your seemingly mindless following of an authoritarian GOP philosophy.

      • nhthinker

        As to low information- look in the mirror. I got my data from an international poll instead of the navel gazing self-reflection of a lone voter.

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/07/us-china-brazil-free-market-support_n_846169.html

        “GlobeScan found Americans strongly agreeing or somewhat agreeing dropped to 59 percent from 74 percent, a 15 percent dip from the year prior and the second largest year-over-year drop of any country besides Turkey. An even more dramatic drop (32 percent drop) occurred among those in the U.S. with annual incomes below $20,000, of which only 44 percent agreed that the free market was the ideal system.

        A large portion of the low income lefties no longer believe in the free market…Probably because the rest of the left badmouths the “evils” of free markets all the time.

        Here’s a US report:
        http://scottystarnes.wordpress.com/2011/07/08/bad-poll-for-socialist-err-democrats-72-favor-free-market-economy-over-government-run-economy/

        Voters remain strongly supportive of a free market economy over one controlled by the government and still think small businesses are hurt more than big businesses when the government does get involved.

        A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 72% of Likely U.S. Voters believe a free market economy is better than an economy managed by the government. Just 14% think a government-managed economy is better. Another 14% are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here).

        Republicans and unaffiliated voters overwhelmingly prefer a free market approach. Among these segments of the electorate, the number preferring a government-managed economy is in the single digits.

        Among Democrats, 48% say a free market is better, but 29% think a government-managed economy is the answer. Twenty-three percent (23%) are not sure.

        • valkayec

          Question: do most people believe the US has a free market or is the market perverted by lobbyists, monopolies or near monopolies, special protections, etc?

          A lot of these poll responses are skewed by how the questions are asked and the failure to follow up by diving deeper into the respondent’s thinking. As a former senior marketer, I’m well aware of how easy it is to skew results. This poll, given the information you provided, is highly skewed to return the responses desired.

        • balconesfault

          You’ve got it right, I believe.

          In order to promote their own interests, Heritage, AEI, Cato, et al have been selling Americans that ANY regulation of business is a perversion of the Free Market.

          Since most people recognize that regulations are a good and necessary thing – the logical connection to a lot is going to be “damn, if Free Markets mean no regulations, then Free Markets are a screwed up idea.”

        • ottovbvs

          What is it with the thinker and these Mickey Mouse polls which as you point out Valkayec are usually the product of the media looking for pegs to hang stories upon. A comfortable majority of Americans in early 2003 thought it was a good idea to invade Iraq. What does this prove other than that the American public’s opinion du jour isn’t an entirely reliable guide to good policy making.

        • nhthinker

          Leftist elitists don’t need polls- they speak for everyone without even polling what people want.
          It’s clear that those disillusioned with the free market system are being led by the nose with crap like the government directed economy is better than free market. Problem for the leftists is the great mosaic example of socialism for the past 40 years, Europe, is failing. It is no wonder that Obama’s approval rating is only 30% for independent voters.

        • larocquj

          “Leftist elitists don’t need polls- they speak for everyone without even polling what people want.”

          For a minute there I thought you were talking about the Republican Party and its adamant stance against tax increases in spite of overwhelming public opinion in favor of a mix of tax increases and spending decreases to reduce the deficit. I apologize for my confusion.

          “It’s clear that those disillusioned with the free market system are being led by the nose with crap like the government directed economy is better than free market.”

          The only thing that’s clear to me is that you conflate government regulation with government direction. There’s a big difference, you know.

          That, and you are a bit confused.

        • nhthinker

          Jesus and Republicans extolled the virtues of free will and free choice…Lefty Democrats, not so much.

        • ottovbvs

          Jesus, assuming he existed, was executed by the authorities for being a populist agitator spreading communistic doctrines.

        • medinnus

          Says the man whose CINOs (Christian In Name Only) want to screw the poor and legislate their interpretation of Christian morality. Its like saying you hypocrites are in favor of the free market – but only with subsidies to make the rich richer.

        • nhthinker

          Jesus is said to be for voluntary communism in the service of his Lord. He certainly was against the mob involuntarily separating the riches from the rich.

          I love it when Obama says “Why shouldn’t we ask the rich to pay more?”
          Democrats are not asking- they are saying if they get a majority, they are demanding redistribution from the rich.- Just like the mobs that Christ spoke out against for having jealousy for the rich.

          Asking is a Christian thing to do. Lying about asking breaks one of the Ten Commandments.

        • larocquj

          The United States is not a theocracy. If the majority of voters want to raise taxes on the rich, then that is the will of the people. No quote from the Bible will change that simple fact. Congress can either choose to act in accordance with the will of the people or not.

        • nhthinker

          There is nothing sacred about “will of the people”. We do not live in a democracy.
          We live in a constitutional republic.

          You seen to be arguing that even though you know that forced redistribution of wealth is not Christian, it is still the “will of the people” or the “will of the mob” and should be addressed by government.

          Throughout history, many people were stoned to death by the “will of the people”. People’s jealous and anger can be quite vicious.

        • larocquj

          I agree: we live in a constitutional republic, and the will of the people is not sacred. I encourage any Grover Norquist Party politician to shout this at the top of their lungs during their next press conference.

          I can see why you would interpret my argument the way you do, but what I am actually arguing is that what is “Christian” is not the same as what is law. We do not live in a theocracy.

          As far as forced distribution of wealth goes, the wealthy are free to move to any country they want if they don’t want some of their wealth redistributed. So are you and me. We are not forced to stay in the US and pay taxes.

          Finally, our government has checks and balances to make sure that angry mobs can’t change things too much, too quickly. This is why I mentioned that Congress can choose to satisfy the will of the people or not. However, when a vast majority of people feel a certain way for long enough, things will start to change.

        • indy

          Gosh, the economically impotent dislike the economic system that has made them economically impotent.

          You need a poll to tell you that? Wait, I just noticed who posted this. Never mind, the question is now obviously rhetorical.

        • larocquj

          “A large portion of the low income lefties no longer believe in the free market…Probably because the rest of the left badmouths the “evils” of free markets all the time.”

          Completely unfounded hyperbole. How can you write something like this and expect to remain credible?

          There also seems to be a lot of confusion here between a “free market” and an “unregulated market.” Countries where corruption is rife, rules are not enforced, and companies can pretty much do anything they want to make a profit have unregulated market economies. I present you with China.

          China has a de facto unregulated market economy.

          The derivatives market prior to Dodd-Frank was an unregulated market. Unregulated markets are unpopular with most everyone (right-wing political extremists, investment bankers, and wealthy, sociopathic industrialists excluded).

          If you want an example of a country that “manages” and directly intervenes in its economy, it’s China. The US establishes rules for companies to follow, but if the rules are followed companies are pretty much free to do they want.

          There is a big difference between free and anarchy.

        • Bingham

          hey

  • Secessionist

    Well Grover Norquist obviously represents the interests of the 1% and the investor class. Unfortunately, it’s hard to discredit a man whose main talking point happens to be true — history shows that when taxes go up, spending does not go down. All it would take to send Grover Norquist packing would be to find a counter example. The fact is, Norquist is right on that point. There isn’t one.

    • valkayec

      Ummm…what is the name of that conservative GOP House member who said he voted against the balanced budget amendment because he saw for himself that budgets can be balanced and the spending can go down if Congress has the will to do so? He said the Clinton era proved it. I can’t remember his name, but he apparently had been a supporter of a BBA until the Clinton era proved that if Congress does it’s job, a BBA is unnecessary and both economic growth and reduced spending can occur.

    • balconesfault

      history shows that when taxes go up, spending does not go down.

      Sure – it’s a point, but it’s a stupid one.

      Especially since when taxes go down – the amount of money we end up spending to service the debt goes up.

      • Secessionist

        No, Norquist has a good point here. If the path to fiscal responsibility requires both tax increases and spending cuts, I don’t see why any rational person should ever agree to tax increases when history proves beyond all doubt that the spending reductions will never happen.

        • balconesfault

          If the path to fiscal responsibility requires both tax increases and spending cuts,

          AHA – here lies the problem.

          I do not see tax increases as a goal. I tax increases as a tool for paying for the things that the Constitution requires government to do (eg – run the judicial system) or that the American public, through their elected representatives, has told government that it wants government to do – be that fund Medicare, or build a big fence across our southern border, or occupy Iraq, or enforce environmental regulations.

          If we really could pay for all those things while lowering taxes, I’d be down with that. Our household is in the top 6% of wage-earners. We pay a lot of taxes. Unfortunately, America can’t pay for those things without raising taxes right now.

          Spending cuts may be a goal for some, but I fail to see why. If someone wants to come make a pitch for why a specific governmental agency should be eliminated, or a specific government program should be scaled back, because the cost does not justify the benefit to society, I’m all ears, and open to that discussion.

          But that is not the discussion that Norquist is engaging in. He is engaging in the idea that government spending needs to be reduced as a goal in and of itself, without respect to whether government is doing too much or even not enough. It is an absolutely bogus argument, and the reason all it ends up doing is generating larger and larger deficits is because it is fundamentally intellectually bankrupt.

        • chephren

          ” . . . history shows that when taxes go up, spending does not go down.”

          That really doesn’t make sense. Tax rates and spending are not causally related. This is proven by the fact that cuts to taxes from 1980 on did not bring about spending cuts. So-called ‘fiscally conservative’ Republicans increased spending in spite of tax cuts. Under Bush43, they cut taxes further, allowed the Pay-Go rules to expire and enacted the across-the-board spending increases.

          When a company increases the price of its product, does it necessarily follow that capital expenditure will increase? Or even that it will decrease? Of course not. These decisions are separate.

          Fiscal discipline is a matter of control of both sides of the revenue/spending equation. Any introductory business textbook will tell you that.

        • balconesfault

          Agreed.

          Consider that you are making widgets. And you think that the cost of producing your widgets is too expensive to make you competitive in the widget market.

          So you start by reducing your sales price to below your cost of widget production.

          This will reduce the price of producing widgets … how?

  • ottovbvs

    “history shows that when taxes go up, spending does not go down. ”

    I’m not quite sure what the point is here since history also shows that that when taxes go DOWN spending does not go down. This can be the product of fiscal reckless (viz. The Bush administration) or recessions where tax revenues fall and govts are forced to boost aggregate demand by stimulative measures which often involve tax cuts or holidays.

  • balconesfault

    nhthinker // Dec 1, 2011 at 7:00 am

    [b]Leftist elitists don’t need polls- they speak for everyone without even polling what people want.
    It’s clear that those disillusioned with the free market system are being led by the nose with crap like the government directed economy is better than free market. [/b]

    The amount of self-unawareness that it takes to pair these two statements back to back is staggering, and goes far to explain why NHThinker isn’t even a particularly good troll – since he seems more determined to make a fool of himself than to actually poke holes in others arguments.

    • nhthinker

      balconefault,

      I hereby concede that you are a much better troll than I will ever be.
      I hope you enjoy your well deserved troll win.

      I provide national poll data to show more Democrats are disillusioned with the free market system (than Republicans and Independents) and you provide ad hominem attacks and no facts or data-

      See, you clearly win in the troll contest.

      Too lazy to provide data? Wow, what a big surprise!

      • balconesfault

        It’s clear that those disillusioned with the free market system are being led by the nose with crap like the government directed economy is better than free market.

        Can you give us your data to substantiate this position?

        Or are you simply offering your own elitist perspective on how other people think?

  • LFC

    nhthinker said… Americans expect to wield more control over government than they do over corporations. Many still believe in a free market economy. Heck, even many Chinese believe in free market more than some lefty Americans.

    Good lord! Oh you really that ignorant to the amount of support and subsidies the Chinese government gives to their companies to make them competitive in the global economy? Solar panels, electric cars, auto parts, paper, steel, packaging film, even the online gaming industry. If you think China has anything close to a free market economy then you have a LOT of catch-up reading to do. Learn to do a Google search, man!

    Of course China does have quite the record on looking the other way when it comes to theft of technology (if not actively participating in it), patent infringement, and copyright infringement. Maybe that’s the free market you want? Where patents and copyrights have no meaning?

    • nhthinker

      Your strawman in breath-takingly idiotic.
      I never claimed China had a free economy. I claimed that Chinese as represented by the international poll choose to express preference for free market as opposed to government directed economy.

      You can create in your own mind reasons to ignore the poll- Typically, good debating technique would be to reference a respectable poll that supports your position.
      But the strawman of trying to attribute assertions to me that I have never made is bush-league. Not unexpected, but bush league just the same.

      • LFC

        I claimed that Chinese as represented by the international poll choose to express preference for free market as opposed to government directed economy.

        Yes, while ignoring the fact that the Chinese who were polled about the “free market”, something they have never ever ever in their lives remotely experienced. And without considering the fact that maybe, just maybe, the definition of “free market” isn’t the same between two highly different cultures. The percentage cited is worthless if the people polled don’t have the same definition of “free market”.

        Another thing you don’t seem to grasp since you’re a pure percentage kinda’ guy is that Americans have just experienced the worst downside of a more free market that the nation has seen in about 80 years. The Chinese have seen mostly upside from a more free market. Since the two nations didn’t have starting or ending points that are remotely comparable, I see no reason why their answers to the same question would be remotely comparable. Or to put it more simply for you:

        Chinese Respondent: “This new free market economy is great and it just keeps growing!”

        American Respondent: “This new free market economy just collapsed and put millions of Americans out of work.”

        I really hope I don’t have to draw pictures for you.

        You can create in your own mind reasons to ignore the poll- Typically, good debating technique would be to reference a respectable poll that supports your position.

        Not true, a.k.a. strawman. (Big news.) Good debating technique can point out a highly fundamental flaw in the cited poll. Since you provide no source for your graph (some that is “typically” a part of “good debating technique”) we can’t see how cultural differences in the definition of “free markets” were handled. Nor the impact of the recent performance of increased freedom. Again to make it simple for you, it’s kinda’ like asking a farmer and a sun worshipper if a rainstorm is a good thing.

        FYI, this is what’s known as “in context”. Look it up. Maybe your posts won’t look like they came from a Republican Presidential candidate.

        • nhthinker

          The schizophrenia by the left here is overwhelming:
          *) economy is bad so Americans have every reason to want government controlled economy rather than a free market economy
          *) The Chinese have only vision into the good parts of the free market economy and us lefties know better- the Chinese are just ignorant fools
          *) the poll sucks because one can use it to claim that many Chinese have a better opinion of free market than some lefty Americans.

          Trying to argue for all those things at once is totally hilarious.

        • balconesfault

          *) economy is bad so Americans have every reason to want government controlled economy rather than a free market economy

          Define what you mean by “government controlled economy”. I have seen that term used so loosely by right wing partisans that even basic environmental and workforce protections can be called “government takeover of business”. Without a little more fleshing out of what you mean here, it’s useless to discuss.

          *) The Chinese have only vision into the good parts of the free market economy and us lefties know better- the Chinese are just ignorant fools

          Huh? The Chinese have an entirely different problem than the US. China is still trying to pull a large portion of their population into the 20th century. America has phenomenal wealth – but we have been sloppy on how we have leveraged that advantage.

          *) the poll sucks because one can use it to claim that many Chinese have a better opinion of free market than some lefty Americans.

          Huh?

  • The Daily Dish – Douthat vs Norquist | The Bottom 99%

    [...] on the Taxpayer Protection Pledge last night at AEI. Noah Kristula-Green summarizes the terms of the debate: Norquist was clear: the pledge has been effective at getting Republicans [...]

  • think4yourself

    This article sums up what’s really wrong in Washington, but especially with the GOP.

    “It’s a fact of American political life that Democrats will sometimes win, and the pledge needs Republicans to have permanent political power…”

    The assumption is that one party (the GOP) is right and should win and that other views are wrong and should lose. Politics are played as a zero sum game and victory is based upon the opponents defeat. The Dems also practice this, but not to the extent that the GOP does.

    Whatever happened to “… indivisible, with liberty and justice for all” – even those with whom I differ politically? Instead of looking to force our own views at others expense, what about recognizing that in differences there is an opportunity for accommodation that reflects the best of us – and creates a better America?

    I’m not against Libertarian arguments or conservative ones. I just don’t want those groups to dominate our society to the exclusion of other views. Rather than the State of Kansas enact laws that make abortion unavailable, what can we do to address the causes that lead to unwanted pregnancies? Rather than creating laws to make gun ownership illegal, what can we do to affect the causes of gun homicides and gun accidents? Rather than saying “we’re never going to raise taxes no matter what”, how about saying as a nation, “what services will we offer and how do we pay for them in the most prudent way possible.” Can we have a realistic conversation about immigration – both legal and illegal that recognizes we have an untenable situation where 11 million people are here without proper status and what are appropriate ways to address this?

    And I participate on this site because I believe that way.

    • LFC

      The GOP has learned that governing and policy are hard while flame-filled rhetoric is easy. So far their inability to provide sane solutions to the nation’s problems hasn’t really held them back that much, so why should they change?

      • think4yourself

        Altruism? Statemanship? A sense of responsibility to their fellow man?

        I know I’m asking a lot.

  • New York debate reduces the 2012 US campaign to predator and prey – Vancouver Sun « New York Taxcut News « New York Taxcuts Info « Union Consulting Louisville Co

    [...] Anti-Tax Pledge Will Keep Republicans on TopU.S. News & World ReportThe Atlantic -FrumForumlos 69 artículos [...]

  • Biped

    It’s not their word the pledgers are worried about keeping: it’s their jobs. They fear Jabba the Norquist’s threats of funding campaigns against them if they renege, no matter that their conception of what’s good for the country may now differ from his.

  • aquaman

    You can’t blame Norquist. The blame lies entirely on the politicians who opt to stand by one pledge (Norquist’s) while disregarding another (their oath of office).