February 25, 2008

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, recently went down to North Carolina to campaign against Walter Jones. Jones is one of the strongest conservative leaders in Congress when it comes to issues such as gun control, traditional values, and immigration. He is also one of the few Republicans willing to stand up to the Bush administration’s reckless foreign policy. 

Norquist insists that the war has nothing to do with his opposition to Jones and that it’s all about Jones big spending and tax hikes. Jones major sin was his support of the Democratic versions of the Energy and Agriculture bills this year. 

Did these bills have some onerous earmarks? Yes.  Should Jones have voted for the bills? Probably not. But I doubt the GOP versions would have been much better. Jones has signed the Club for Growth’s “no pork” pledge, so these Energy and Ag bills would be, at worst, a mere blemish on his near immaculate conservative record. 

I will be the first to admit that the details of fiscal policy is not my area of expertise. But I think I”€™m qualified enough to understand that opposing large new government programs would be more important than quibbling over appropriations bills.

In fact, since the Democratic takeover of Congress in 2006, most of the movement conservatives started criticizing GOP for abandoning the movement priorities and passing big new programs like The Medicare prescription drug benefit and No Child Left Behind, which gave the Department of Education unprecedented control over local schools and increased its budget by $20 billion dollars a year.

Jones was also one of the few Republicans to oppose No Child Left Behind.

When the Medicare bill was passed, the Bush administration estimated the cost would be 434 billion dollars over ten years”€”already making it the largest entitlement program since The Great Society”€”and that number has risen to 1.2 trillion dollars. This seems a lot more important than a few earmarks

Walter Jones was one of only 25 Republicans to oppose the measure.  So where was Norquist?  In 2003, he was on Crossfire shilling for President Bush where he had this exchange with Paul Begala.

BEGALA: [Bush] has embraced Teddy Kennedy’s entitlement plan for senior citizens to get prescription drugs. Is it because he suddenly had a change of heart and became a liberal? Or maybe is he just another crass, phony politician?
NORQUIST: No. The Republicans for four or five years have been saying they want to get a prescription drug benefit. They’d also like to see reform so that Medicare doesn’t crash and burn in 10 or 20 years, which is the same reason we need to reform Social Security.
BEGALA: So Bush signing on with Teddy Kennedy’s prescription drug plan is a good thing?…
NORQUIST: … Teddy Kennedy isn’t wrong on everything, just most things.

I guess Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform are too busy putting out press releases about John McCain’s tax cutting credentials to remember this. 


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