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The Unthinkable Has Happened! Open House GOP Criticism of Grover Norquist

04 Oct 2011
Posted by Pete Davis

Plenty of Democrats have criticized the no tax increase pledge of Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, but Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf's (R-VA) attack is the first from a House Republican.  Here's the transcript of his attack on the House floor today.  Wolfe's attack on Norquist's shady connections is straight out of "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."



Dead man walking.

Dead man walking.

It's a start

While it may be Rep. Wolfe's "Sister Soulja" moment and potentially tactical, I welcome it nonetheless.

Ludicrous single-issue nostrums for our problems, single-dimensional analyses, and so on are electoral crack for scared, tired, over-worked and globally-slipping American voters. It is nice to see that even one Republican elected official will take a risk and say that these need to be put aside, even if his point is more about Norquist's associations than his rigidity per se.

That said, I would be interested to hear whether Rep. Wolfe would have kept his silence if Norquist had no such questionable associations, only reprehensible tactics, lack of accountability, and reductionist ideas.

Cheers for Frank Wolf

Frank Wolf has extremely strong support in his district, so I wouldn't be at all concerned about his re-election. I'm a Democrat and routinely bote for him, in part because of his international humanitarian support. From both Pete's point taht it requires tax increases [we could also close or reduce some loopholes], and Bruce's multiple reiterated polling data that most of the country supports tax increases, I say triple Kudos to Frank. A wouldn't quite call it a McCarthy moment, but it's a start, and hopefully others will follow soon.

Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations


This was a personal attack, not an act of principle.

Before ranting against Norquist's "unsavory" relationships with a variety of people and causes, Wolf set out his frame of reference:

"Like Ronald Reagan said, and I believe, the problem is not that the 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."

This is, of course, a statement completely divorced from US history, world economic history, and the record of Ronald Reagan. Pretty trenchant otherwise, though.

Wolf then went on to say that he didn't like Norquist, because of his:

relationship with a supporter of Hamas, his efforts to lobby on behalf of Fannie Mae, and his association with disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who Wolf alleged “essentially laundered money through ATR and Mr. Norquist knew it.” He also highlighted Norquist’s representation of the Internet gambling industry and his support of moving Guantanamo Bay detainees, included 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed, to the United States.

It's an unprincipled hodgepodge of various mean things Wolf thought he could get away with saying.

After that litany, Wolf throws out the boilerplate, innumerate, "centrist" complaint about "Washington": “Some are dead-set against any change to entitlement programs, while others insist that any discussion of tax policy is off the table.”

The "some" who are dead-set against any change to entitlement programs exist mostly inside Frank Wolf's head (certainly, that "some" don't control any major party around here). The "some" who insist that discussion of tax policy is off the table are 99 percent of all elected Republican officials, in addition to their powerful unelected leaders like Norquist, Rush Limbaugh, and Roger Ailes.

(Not that Wolf or any other Republican cares about reality, but we do know that the long-term debt problem is health care costs).

So, this is almost courage, given that Wolf picked a fight with a bully, but it's a power struggle, not anything principled.

I suppose it is noteable that

I suppose it is noteable that a Republican called out Norquist for his undo influence, but the speech itself is kind of incoherent, partly because it is just a slew of ad hominem attacks, and Wolf can't back away too far from Republican party orthodoxy. So he ends up making kind of a weak call for a little more compromise.

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