Here’s the good news: Grover Norquist, of far-right “think tank” Americans for Tax Reform, agrees that letting the Bush tax cuts lapse would not count as a “tax hike,” would not violate his group’s “no taxes” pledge, and therefore needn’t be a sticking point for Republicans seeking to avoid excommunication from this particular new branch of conservative theology.
Here’s the bad news. For some reason, we care.
It’s a bizarre, nonsensical politics that finds Republican members so wedded to their base that the pronouncement of an extremist advocacy group should factor into the calculus of not just members of the party fringe, but party leadership, too. Imagine Planned Parenthood demanding — just when the health care bill was up for passage — that Democratic members oppose Senator Baucus’ compromise bill, which largely prevented federal funding from being spent on abortions. And imagine they backed up the demand with the credible threat of a primary challenge for each and every member deviating from the party line. We’d say the Democratic Party had been coopted by interest groups, and was letting the health of the country suffer just to preserve a particular point of liberal orthodoxy.
Why won’t we say that here? The Bush tax cuts were never anything more than the product of an overly rigid orthodoxy, entered into without any semblance of concern for the larger economy, over the objections of Alan Greenspan, whose silence on the bill was procured, but never earned. If Republicans actually put “country first,” or valued a balanced budget over some absurd tenet of faith, members shouldn’t have to be off the whip to put fiscal sanity before such ideologically motivated recklessness.
But instead, here we are, with a partisan hack calling the shots as we purport to navigate back towards solvency.