Both The Hill and Politico have stories today on congressional Republicans chafing at Grover Norquist’s insistence on holding signatories to the no-tax-increases pledge. (Grover’s going to keep catching flak, as he has just recently from Al Simpson and Harry Reid and Rolling Stone, as the supercommittee deadline grows ever nearer.) But Grover’s right to stick to his guns.
“Comprehensive” deals, whether they purport to pack together spending cuts with tax hikes or immigration enforcement with amnesty, are always a trick. As I’ve noted before, the political class always wants more revenue (and immigration) and will only pay lip service to spending cuts (and immigration enforcement) so long as it has to, and will welsh on the deal at the first opportunity. The difference is that Grover, being a down-the-line libertarian purist, wants unlimited immigration, so he was happy to promote the Kennedy-Bush comprehensive amnesty hoax a few years back; on the other hand, he really does want smaller government, so he’s no falling for a comprehensive tax deal. (What Grover and too many of his fellow libertarians can’t seem to accept is that mass immigration inevitably means bigger government.)
Everyone knows there’s going to have to be some tax hikes and amnesty for some illegal aliens. But the sequence is the same in both areas: The broccoli the politicians would rather not eat — genuine spending cuts and immigration enforcement — has to come first, without preconditions or packages or tradeoffs or comprehensive deals. Only then can there be any discussion of the dessert of increased taxes or amnesty.