In a chat with Washington Post readers Wednesday, Norquist said Obama is using the national debt ceiling debate as an excuse to expand government through taxation.
Debt talk has captivated the capital this week, as lawmakers try to hammer out a compromise before Aug. 2, when the federal government will reach its Congressionally-approved $14.3 trillion limit on debt. If an agreement is not reached, the United States could be forced to default on some of its debt, leading to a downgrading of its bond rating, higher interest rates and, perhaps, triggering an economic catastrophe.
Obama and Congressional leaders agree that the debt limit must be raised before Aug. 2. But Republicans are demanding sharp cuts in spending in return for any deal. Obama, on the other hand, has called for a “grand bargain” of trillions of spending cuts, entitlement reform and tax reform to address the nation’s debt crisis. GOP leaders have rejected that path as politically infeasible.
Fearing that an an agreement may not be reached, Moody’s Investors Service announced Wednesday it would start a review of the U.S.’s bond rating, the first step toward a potential downgrade. But in his livechat Wednesday, Norquist downplayed the impact of reaching the debt ceiling.
He argued Obama has been playing up the impact as leverage to enact tax increases that will expand government, and he said he supported Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s proposal to allow Obama to force the debt ceiling himself.
“Right now Obama is promoting an imaginary budget with bold and daring spending restraint and painless tax cuts that are not written down — because they are unicorns,” Norquist said. “McConnell’s plan may be the only way to expose Obama’s lack of seriousness.”
During the hourlong chat, Norquist answered reader questions about the debt negotiations, the historical impact of taxation and his organization’s anti-tax pledge.
“We tax work, savings and investment — and get less of it,” Norquist said. “Pehaps we should tax politicians.”
Despite repeated questions regarding what level of taxation Norquist would find appropriate, he declined to offer a specific number.
“Samuel Gompers was asked what labor wanted. He said ‘more,’” Norquist said. “You ask what is the proper level of federal taxes. I say ‘lower.’”
Norquist called for a limited government whose obligation was only to “oppose others from initiating force against you.”
He also showed little patience for information he believed to be false and arguments he believed to be unsound.
“How can you continue to support a no tax increase policy when there are obviously very good reasons to increase taxes with reduced government spending? Your hardline position does not seem to be in the best interest of this nation and the majority of its people,” one reader asked.
“Thank you for your comments,” Norquist answered. “You are wrong.”