Posted by | May 25, 2011 13:15 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

As the debate over raising the debt ceiling and possible cures for the long term deficit heat up, Grover Norquist is again playing an outsized role.

There may be enough congressional Republicans enthralled with Norquist, a small-government advocate who has spent the last quarter-century pressing lawmakers to sign a pledge never to raise taxes, to kill any comprehensive, bipartisan deal to rein in the $14.3 trillion national debt, say current and former members of Congress.

“Until Republicans are more afraid of the deficit than they are of Grover Norquist, we’re going to have a problem,” said Representative Christopher Van Hollen of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Budget Committee.

Norquist, 54, president of Americans for Tax Reform, says he has secured written pledges from 40 of the 47 Republicans in the Senate and 233 of 240 party members in the House

For those keeping track at home, that is enough signatures to block any deal that President Obama and the Democrats in the Senate may agree to.  Fearing a Norquist supported primary, his signatories will either have to break their pledge to him or shut down the government at some point in the months ahead.

I never thought I’d say this but Senators Coburn and Chambliss are a few of the ones showing courage on the GOP side:

Coburn has, indeed, signed a pledge sponsored by Norquist’s anti-tax lobbying group, Americans for Tax Reform, not to raise taxes. When NBC’s David Gregory pointed that out to Coburn on Sunday, the senator asked: “Which pledge is most important, David: The pledge to uphold your oath to the Constitution of the United States? Or a pledge from a special interest group who claims to speak for all of American conservatives, when in fact they really don’t?”

We’ll need more Senators and Representatives brave enough to buck Norquist to avoid disaster.

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Copyright 2011 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.