Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, tells National Review Online that a tentative tax deal between President Obama and the GOP is “a much bigger victory than people see” for the Republicans.
Of course the deal isn’t perfect, Norquist says. He would have preferred a permanent extension of the income-tax rates, as opposed to just two years, but thinks Republicans should be thrilled at the prospect of revisiting the tax debate in 2012, when Obama is up for reelection, especially when the agreed-upon extension of jobless benefits will ensure that the unemployment rate remains artificially high.
According to Norquist, this GOP victory is really a failure on the part of Democrats, who had every opportunity to extend most of the Bush tax rates (and to take the political credit). Their failure to do so not only exposes the party’s ideological commitment to higher taxes, but puts them on poor footing politically. “Look at the last four years,” he says. “They never intended to extend the rates for anyone, or they’d have done it by now.”
Norquist says Republicans should be especially pleased with the proposal to reestablish the estate tax at a rate of 35 percent (for two years), given Democrats’ desire to return to a permanent rate of 55 percent after going all of 2010 without any estate tax whatsoever. “Think about how badly Democrats wanted [a return to a 55 percent rate],” he says. “They were willing to suck it up for a whole year . . . all those lucky dead people who weren’t sufficiently looted.” Now 35 percent becomes the new baseline, and Democrats are fighting a losing battle.
If the Democrats are losing this fight now, with large majorities in both houses of Congress, it will only get much worse for them when Republicans take over the House and install a cloture-proof coalition in the Senate in 2011, as the debate over taxes continues in the next Congress.
Norquist thinks this deal on taxes has the GOP off to a good start. “Any time there’s a deal, you go, ‘We could’ve done better,’” he says. “But you could’ve done a lot worse.”