Tom Coburn Screws Grover Norquist (finally someone does)


Grover Norquist has a little problem with his ego.  Case in point.

“…But there was a caveat. Norquist told Senators they could vote for Coburn’s proposal only if they also promised to vote for an amendment by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) that would eliminate ethanol mandates as well as the estate tax. However, the DeMint amendment might never get a vote and is almost certain to fail even if it does….”

You gotta love politics.

“…Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the number three Republican, also broke with Norquist. “I can only speak for my own position,” he said when asked how he squared his vote with Norquist’s pledge. “In my view, a good way to reduce the debt is to get rid of unwarranted tax breaks.”

Is this a significant rebuke to Norquist?

“This is a vote for lower food prices and lower federal debt,” Alexander responded.

Norquist has long been critical of Republicans who have focused attention on the deficit, arguing instead that the target should be spending. Norquist knows there are only two ways to close the deficit — hiking taxes and cutting spending — and worries that the American people will gravitate toward higher taxes once they are confronted with the reality of spending reductions….”

Picture this, Americans For Prosperity (those lovable little Koch Brothers) are going to have a little hissy fight with Americans for Tax Reform and Grover Norquist.

All of this reminds me of a Beach Boy’s classic – Fun Fun Fun!

“...So now the trap is sprung. Coburn can now paint Norquist’s pledge as un-conservative — it’s protecting pork and special interest subsidies that conservatives oppose. And Coburn is right! Assuming, of course, that you define conservative to mean a belief in low nominal tax rates and a tax code that doesn’t pick winners or losers, as opposed t a tax code that raises the smallest amount of revenue as possible from rich people.

The implications of Coburn’s fight is profound. Norquist’s vision of conservatism has completely dominated the Republican Party for twenty years. Nobody has even attempted to push back. Coburn may not win, but the mere fact that he is opposing Norquist’s definition of proper party dogma is highly significant….”

Grover Norquist is one of those arrogant conservative dictators who put principle ahead of what is often good for the country.  Tom Coburn is one of those rare conservatives (save for Lindsey, John McCain, James Inhofe) who put their country ahead of everything else.   Coburn is one of those budget hawks who thinks with his head, not the polls.  So, when he screwed Norquist on Tuesday, it was a thing of beauty.

“…Sen. Tom Coburn has an odd role in all of this. He was involved with budget negotiations, then bizarrely jacked up his demands and then bolted the negotiations. But before he did that, he started laying a trap for Norquist. Coburn proposed to eliminate the tax subsidy for ethanol, which conservatives have long opposed. Of course, the subsidy is a tax credit, which means that eliminating it would be a tax hike. Norquist has forcefully opposed eliminating the ethanol subsidy, arguing that the ethanol subsidy may be bad, but it can be eliminated only if the revenue is used to reduce revenue. Eliminating even an unjustified tax subsidy in order to reduce the deficit is strictly forbidden. Indeed, according to Norquist’s rule, a bill that cut federal spending by 50% and eliminated the ethanol credit would be forbidden if it did not cut other taxes by at least as much as the ethanol credit. Coburn’s bill exposed the conceptual absurdity of the anti-tax pledge, which has become the most important impediment to a budget agreement that restrains the size of government….”

While doing so, Coburn also thumbed his nose at Jim DeMint.  The Pink Flamingo doubts that this was unintentional, but rather an added benefit of the vote.  DeMint has been playing one side against the other, trying to be the important king maker.  It did not work.

“...The battle also appeared to set up a struggle for the heart of Republican politics between the conservative Club for Growth and Norquist’s group. The club, which is widely feared because of its ability to successfully defeat GOP incumbents in primaries, announced last week it would make Coburn’s amendment a key vote. And after Americans for Tax Reform announced the DeMint maneuver, the club put out a statement Monday in which it backed the DeMint amendment but said it supports Coburn’s amendment regardless — a clear rebuke of Norquist’s position….”

From the Politico:

“...Norquist — head of the advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform — has for months ripped Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) for pushing a plan to slash more than $5 billion in ethanol subsidies, a move his group sees as a blatant tax hike. But instead of warning senators that supporting the Coburn plan would violate the group’s pledge not to raise taxes — which has been signed by virtually every Republican member of Congress — Norquist said that a vote for Coburn’s proposal was fine as long as senators also voted for a separate plan offered by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) that would cut taxes.

That enraged several Republican opponents of Coburn’s plan, who believed that Norquist was simply giving political cover to senators who want it both ways on the issue: They wanted to vote to eliminate what they see as unnecessary ethanol subsidies but not be accused of raising taxes. But there’s another catch: There’s no guarantee that DeMint’s plan will ever come to a vote.

The fight came to a boil at a closed-door meeting of several GOP senators Tuesday morning on Capitol Hill, with Norquist’s supporters saying they needed to maintain the arrangement to prevent accusations of breaking the party’s anti-tax orthodoxy, several attendees said. But others were not convinced….”

Norquist is already threatening Republicans who voted with Coburn.