Thursday, October 6, 2011

Both Ends Burning

Congressman Jack Wolfe (R-VA) took to the House floor to level an attack on Grover Norquist, creator and protector of "The Pledge," which has so far prevented any Republican elected official who has signed it from supporting any legislation that raises revenue for the US government.  A transcript of Wolfe's comments are on his website.  It's Wolfe's Jerry Maguire moment.  Here's one part that seems reasonable enough:
Everything must be on the table and I believe how the “pledge” is interpreted and enforced by Mr. Norquist is a roadblock to realistically reforming our tax code.

When Senator Tom Coburn recently called for eliminating the special interest ethanol tax subsidy, who led the opposition? Mr. Norquist.

Have we already forgotten the battle over earmarks from last year? Unlike an earmark included in an annual appropriations bill, “tax earmarks” are far worse because once enacted they typically exist in perpetuity.

Have we really reached a point where one person’s demand for ideological purity is paralyzing Congress to the point that even a discussion of tax reform is viewed as breaking a no-tax pledge?
However, let's take these comments in context of how he opened his floor remarks, which is thusly:
Like Ronald Reagan said, and I believe, “the problem is not that people are taxed too little, the problem is that government spends too much.” I want to be perfectly clear: I do not support raising taxes on the American people.

Oh, really?  And how does Mr. Wolfe feel about the fact that Ronald Reagan raised taxes 11 times and raised the debt ceiling 18 times during his presidency?  I'm all for attacking Grover Norquist, whether on his irrational call for ideological purity or his "associations" with Jack Abramoff or individuals with ties to Muslim charities (read: funders of terrorism).  But let's not forget how short-sighted, opportunistic, populist, and hypocritical most Republicans are around fiscal discipline.  To today's GOP, Ronald Reagan would be a Democrat, and Abraham Lincoln a totalitarian dictator.

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