Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics


As we come round the last bend toward the midterm elections of 2010, clearly an ‘economy’ election, it is worth reflecting on the trajectory of Republican economic theory and practice over the last few decades in an effort to pull the curtain back on some of their policy positions and rhetoric since Obama’s inauguration.

Let’s be clear, institutional Republicans want to remove the social support services in our country and return to what they imagine are the good ol’ days before income tax, Social Security and Medicare.  And they are deadly serious about it.  Don’t believe it?  Let’s review this archconservative economic manifesto in the concise words of its two-decades long architect, Grover Norquist:

To Norquist, who loves being called a revolutionary, hardly an agency of government is not worth abolishing, from the Internal Revenue Service and the Food and Drug Administration to the Education Department and the National Endowment for the Arts. “My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years,” he says, “to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”

Robert Dreyfuss – Grover Norquist: ‘Field Marshal’ of the Bush Plan The Nation 26 Apr 01

Strategically though, how does one dismantle programs, like Social Security, which are clearly favoured by voters of both parties?  Simple.  Reduce taxes, never unpopular, until there is a funding crisis and then use the ominous, looming deficit as an imperative for cutting services.  Oh, and the occasional unfunded war doesn’t hurt either.

Grover Norquist founded Americans for Tax Reform, was the co-author of Gingrich’s Contract with America and a chief strategist for Bush’s $1.6T tax cut package.  Let’s unpack his recent take on the first year of the Obama administration:

Exactly one year after Obama, Reid, and Pelosi came together in power, they had increased the publicly held federal debt from $5.8 trillion to $7.6 trillion and increased the projected spending for the next 10 years by $1 trillion. The unfunded liability of Social Security and Medicare now stands at $22.3 trillion and rising. This deliberate explosion of debt and spending is designed to force permanent tax increases. Their ultimate goal is to impose a Value Added Tax (VAT) on top of higher income taxes. But Congress has failed to enact the three changes in law that would permanently alter the balance of power: rewriting labor law, nationalizing energy, and nationalizing health care.

Grover Norquist – Will 2010 Be Another 1994? The American Spectator Mar 10

Do you see what he did there?  This deliberate explosion of debt and spending is designed to force permanent tax increases.  He is crediting Democrats with precisely the opposite strategy to that which Republicans have adopted, namely that permanent tax cuts force a contraction of spending and the elimination of services.

So, why all the fuss about health care reform, the accusations of ‘socialism’ and ‘death panels,’ the desperate and inflamed rhetoric?  Surely a fix was needed, the average American household is paying way too much of its annual income for health services.  Because Republicans are afraid that a single-payer health care system would be a ‘point of no return’ for their aspirations:

[Norquist] also confessed to Reason that he feared that Clinton’s effort to implement universal health care could have relegated the Republicans to permanent minority status: “Had the Democrats taken over health care, I think we would have become a social democracy and we could have never undone it. We wouldn’t have won in ’94, and even if we did, it wouldn’t matter because 50 percent of the population would be on the take.”

Chris Suellentrop – Grover Norquist Slate 7 Jul 03

‘On the take?’  There you have it.  Nothing in that statement has the slightest concern for the prosperity or quality of life of the majority of our nation’s citizens.  The Republican leadership’s infatuation with extending the Bush tax cuts and their ‘deficit hawk’ rhetoric goes much deeper than relieving the tax burden of the wealthy or mere good governance.  It is indicative of their ideological contempt for the middle class and the general welfare of the population when placed beside the seductive Ayn Rand fantasy of an untaxed, unregulated capitalist autarchy.

Make no mistake, this coming election is vitally important.  In the master’s own words:

Election day, November 2, 2010, will either confirm the Democratic triumphs of 2006 and 2008, ushering in a renewed period of Democratic dominance and jerking America left as happened in the 1930s and 1960s, or it will echo the 1994 rejection of the leftward drift of united Democratic government under Clinton.

Grover Norquist – Will 2010 Be Another 1994? The American Spectator Mar 10

The stakes have rarely been higher.  And in spite of the bloviating of the pundits and the whining of the Left the distinction is crystal clear.


  1. ever since it went into effect in the 30’s. Their goal is to return America to the era of the Robber Barons. I’m not trying to say there is a vast conspiracy, it’s simply opposition to the government support for citizens. They firmly believe that government has no place in helping the needy. They were Randians before Ayn Rand wrote her books. They’ve been with us since the founding of the country. In a sense, they are utopians, it’s just that their utopia differs radically from the one most people envision. They will never be satisfied until the country is ruled by a moneyed elite. I used to ridicule Bush’s rhetoric about an ownership society by saying that meant the favored few would own the rest of us. I don’t find that as amusing as I once did.

  2. Hollede

    You put the rest of us to shame…yeah I am looking at…all of youse;~!

    Thank you for this Shaun, it is very good.  

  3. creamer

    I think that will be fun. I want to see McConnell and Lieberman explain why they wont pass middle class tax cuts without tax cuts for them and their rich friends.

     Saturday I watched Candy Crowley interview Rep Hoyer about the coming tax fight. While it seems the Democrats have a strong hand, it also occurred to me that those media people who frame the debate all must make more than 250k.


    but it’s gone completely out of my head after watching fogiv’s adorable son.

    Instead I’ll comment on Boehner’s faux tan.  Is it just me who thinks he’s covering up the flush of a long-time alcoholic?

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