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Iconic conservative and former congressman
calls Norquist no-tax pledge irrational, childish

“You know, Republicans may complain about the federal debt, but they’re as responsible as the Democrats for the debt being as large as it is. And once you have already done that, then you have an obligation to pay it down.

“You know, so the idea that what you’re going to do is say– you know, ‘We’re not going to raise taxes, we’re not going to close loopholes, we’re not going to do anything’ — that means that we’re not going to pay off what we’ve already created. I mean, that’s childish. That’s childish.

“. . . It’s not conservatism, not rational, not adult. It’s a 12-year-old’s kind of thinking.”

Mickey Edwards, Republican former Oklahoma U.S. representative,
Heritage Foundation founding trustee and longtime movement conservative,
commenting on Grover Norquist’s no-tax-increase pledge
during a Dec. 7 interview with Bill Moyers,
as reported at Think Progress.


Edwards’ statement provides further proof that truth, like gold, is where you find it.

It should also serve as a reminder that there once was a time when even strongly ideological movement conservatives had some sense of responsibility where governing was concerned.



  1. jim marquis says:

    Wow, that is a powerful statement. Love that it was made by a founding trustee of the Heritage Foundation.

  2. Jack Jodell says:

    It is also proof that these same conservatives were once rational human beings who could discern reality from fiction. What happened? Who let the crazies into the conservative movement?

  3. (O)CT(O)PUS says:

    Fourteenth Amendment Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.

    More than childish, the No-Tax Pledge represents demagoguery in the extreme. Perhaps even treason to the extent that so-called lawmakers would make such a pledge without considering its implications – that such a pledge would come into direct conflict with their oath of office. It was bullshit from the beginning; and the public has been paying a terrible price.

  4. Demeur says:

    The republicans have neatly painted themselves into a corner. Think about it. If they go along with the tea bag base they lose. If they try and go against this tea bag base they lose as well. All the lip service in the world isn’t going to get people on their side if their policies go against the majority.

  5. S.W. Anderson says:

    Jim, the unfortunate thing is it strikes us as powerful but probably strikes those who need to try to understand it as naysaying static.

    Jack, some of today’s conservatives were once in touch with reality and more responsible. Some of them drank the Kool-Aid. Others are afraid of facing a Norquist-backed or Koch-backed, or other tea party extremist in a primary election. I think many of the fanatics were helped into the fold by Norquist, the Kochs and other big-money people and interests. Some probably made it in on their own.

    Octopus, yes, you’re right. What’s amazing is how long it’s taken for so many in the public to realize what a price they’re paying and finally do something about it. But the job isn’t done. Republicans still have enough power to hold the country hostage.

    Demeur, that’s how it should work out, and I hope it does. Time will tell.

  6. T. Paine says:

    I absolutely agree that we need to close loopholes, particularly for the wealthy in order to raise revenue. That said, we could tax the rich at 90% and still not make a dent in the national debt.

    The ONLY way to make a significant difference is to stop spending money we don’t have. The best way to do that is to cut and phase out all spending that is not constitutionally authorized. Of course that would mean we would have to actually abide by the constitution. Fat chance.

    The Republicans and Democrats both have no intention of doing so. They both play games like with base-line budgeting so that a reduction in the future spending they wanted is seen as a “cut”. We will go over that cliff, and frankly I think that is exactly what the progressives want. In that way they can make draconian cuts in the military and raise taxes on everybody through their well-played sequestration deal. And as you can see in the comments here, the Republicans will take all of the blame for it. The sycophantic statist media will repeat the progressive mantra to ensure that is so. Welcome to your impending economic collapse.

    1. S.W. Anderson says:

      Paine, there you go with the over-the-top statements again. If we could tax the top 2 percent at 90 percent, with an effective rate of 73 percent or so, we could balance the budget in four years. Then, we could plow the massive revenues plus interest we’re not paying on that debt into stimulus that would fix our infrastructure and reduce unemployment to 5 percent or less. At 15 years, we could be within striking distance of retiring the debt. Maybe even sooner, if we could avoid another war.

      You’re not going to have an America where it’s everyone for themselves, and tough luck to those who for any of a thousand reasons can’t or won’t get rich or nearly so. We’re not all Romneys and Adelsons, fortunately. Neither is ours a society where 47 percent or some other high number expect a free ride at others’ expense. Enough fmily supporting jobs must be available and we need a new social contract that compensates for the current complete lack of job security.

      If not that, then the relative few who’ve cornered the bulk of the wealth for themselves, much of it by doing things that make it extremely hard or impossible for others to have a decent middle-class life, will have to pay to support the many who can’t get or keep a family supporting job. The alternative is the longtime Latin American model, where when the peons have had all they can take, you have bloody revolutions one after another. History is quite clear about how these things go, for those who bother to read it.

  7. Tom Harper says:

    I never understood why or how Grover Norquist achieved such absolute power over an entire political party; especially since he looks and talks like the stereotypical bureaucratic middle manager from Central Casting.

    In any case I’m glad to see him morphing from an all-powerful party boss into a has-been and a punch line.

  8. S.W. Anderson says:

    Tom, I read a decade or more ago about how half of D.C. was afraid of Norquist. The Republican half. Part of it was funding. He could steer big-money donors toward or away from incumbents. I suspect a word from him could probably cause GOP congressional leaders to deny someone he wanted to punish an important committee assigment, but that’s just a guess. Norquist’s biggest club is arrangeing for those who wander off the reservation to face a primary opponent.

  9. Dave Dubya says:

    American “conservatism” has gone from pledging to support and defend the Constitution to support and defend the wealth of the elites.

    Our nation cannot survive loyalty to wealth over loyalty to country.

    Any pledge or oath that limits Constitutional prerogatives is un-American.