Grover Norquist Would Be Proud: All 8 GOP Candidates Turn Down A 10-1 Budget Deal Because Of Taxes

I already noted this in my round-up of the debate but this moment is worth reviewing again:

Matthew Yglesias comments:

One can say that this was merely politicians playing to their base and some of them know better. And perhaps it was, but it’s extremely difficult to turn around and break a promise like that. So you have the entire Republican Party committed to the view not only that tax increases are undesirable, but that it’s unthinkable to include even small increases in a bipartisan bargain for large spending cuts. In a normal country, that would be an extreme and strange position to take, but I’m not sure it would be a damaging one. The question, after all, would simply be whether such an extreme party can or can’t win a governing majority. If it couldn’t, its weird views would be irrelevant. If it could, then it would deserve congratulations and good luck in its effort to implement an all-cut agenda. But by a series of odd quirks of fate, the Republican Party exercises substantial influence over budget outcomes even if it mostly loses elections. So as long as they stick to this view, it will be neither possible to raise taxes nor to substantially reform major spending programs.

Standard and Poor’s work may be shoddy, but it hardly strikes me as an insane conclusion that this is not the soundest political culture in the world.

I can’t say I disagree, and it’s ironic that, based on his record as Governor and President, Ronald Reagan would have answered differently from all the other candidates.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, Deficit and Debt, Taxes, US Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. john personna says:

    Joe Scarborough explained this to me (on tv) … it’s silly season, and I shouldn’t worry about the crazy things said to win straw polls and primaries … instead I should expect the sanest candidate to lead a year from now.

    I hope that’s the way it works out.

  2. michael reynolds says:

    See, the ten dollars come from the poor, the one dollar would come from the rich, so this isn’t exactly surprising. When has the GOP ever hesitated to sh!t on a working man and lick the boots of a rich man? Isn’t that the core purpose of the GOP?

  3. Gustopher says:

    So much for Huntsman being a serious candidate — it he will spout the Grover line on this, he’s no different from the rest of them. And there’s no need for another one of the rest of them.

    Do these candidates believe what they are saying, or are they just craven panderers saying whatever they think needs to be said? I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume the believe what they are saying. And this disqualifies each and every one of them.

    The budget is a medium-to-long term problem that needs to be addressed, but it can’t be fixed by just cutting — the numbers just aren’t there.

  4. hey norm says:

    Again – for me this is the headline from the debate.
    After the past two weeks and the AAA downgrade and a volatile market these idiots double down on their crazy. This is just insane. As insane as turning down Obama’s 4:1 offer. These people are not in full control of their faculties. The longer the Media treats them as sane the longer we will continue down this spiral. They are making me nostalgic for Reagan…and that troubles me.

  5. legion says:

    Do these candidates believe what they are saying, or are they just craven panderers saying whatever they think needs to be said?

    Ahhh, Gustopher. When you ask questions like this, you forget the power of the word “and”. These people are stupid enough to believe what they’re saying _and_ they’re all craven panderers. This is what passes for leadership in today’s GOP.

  6. Ryan says:

    My problem with a question (and answer) like this is that it requires you to give away your negotiating position. Whoever is gets elected President is going to have to negotiate with Congress over this issue and if he (or she) had said they would accept this, then that’s where the negotiations start: it precludes the opportunity to get an even better deal. By rejecting the contention at this point (even if they would really accept it at the end of negotiations), each of them has kept the starting point for the negotiations at no new taxes. Now, I realize that there are some of them who truly wouldn’t accept a 10-to-1 deal but I don’t think even Reagan would have answered that question with a “yes” in the primary. I suspect he would have taken a Fred Thompson approach and said “I won’t be doing any of that hand stuff today.”

  7. john personna says:


    Then don’t answer. Say something reasonable about driving the best deal with congress and doing the best you can for the nation.

    Except … that doesn’t really make it in silly season, does it? Instead, sadly, you have to agree with the ridiculous to stay with the pack.

  8. Ryan says:

    That’s the approach I would have liked them to try and take. When asked for a show of hands, though, they aren’t given an opportunity to say “I’m not going to negotiate the deal in the media before I’m elected but I believe tax increases are harmful at this time and I’d work hard to fight them”. They’re put in a position where they have to answer yes or no. If those are the only two options, the very marginally better option is to raise a hand.

  9. WR says:

    @Ryan: Marginally better — if you’re insane or a moron. Or both, in which case you in the Tea Party. But if you have the slightest sense of responsiblity about the fact you’re asking to be elected president of the United States, you don’t pander to a bunch of mouth-breathing idiots.

  10. Ryan says:

    Never ceases to amaze me how quickly a civil – and potentially interesting – discussion can devolve into name calling and insults…

  11. legion says:

    What’s amazing (and depressing) is that Bachmann says (and not one GOPer disagrees) that raising the debt ceiling _at all_ was a bad idea. That, after S&P releasing today that the “default isn’t such a big deal” thread of the discussions was their main reason for declaring the entire US Gov’t fiscally untrustable. Basically, every single one of these idiots is incompetent to be even considered at this level. Period.

  12. David M says:

    @Ryan: How is rejecting a deficit reduction plan with 10:1 ratio of spending cuts to tax increases because it’s not favorable enough to your preferred outcome an interesting discussion? That goes both ways, anyone who thinks the tax increases should be more than 10 times the amount of spending cuts probably isn’t being reasonble either. Also, how does it benefit anyone if the starting point to the negotiations is either “no tax increases” or “no spending cuts”?

    I am surprised none of the candidates was willing to distinguish themselves from the loons with a responsible answer though.

  13. WR says:

    @Ryan: Sorry, wasn’t calling you a moron. Just the Tea Partiers and the candidates. Nothing personal!

  14. Ernieyeball says:

    @Ryan: If you are looking for decorum, you should go watch the Cage Fights at the Buffalo Wild Wings. You will never find it here during the perpetual “election cycle”.

  15. mattt says:

    So Doug, since both parties share similar blame for the gridlock in DC, I’m sure you can make a list of 8 prominent Democrats who are recently on record saying they’d reject a 10:1 deficit reduction deal, revenue to cuts.

  16. A voice from another precinct says:

    “I can’t say I disagree, and it’s ironic that, based on his record as Governor and President, Ronald Reagan would have answered differently from all the other candidates.”


    Your comment is the evidence that shows that Reagan was a RINO even then! It’s not too far away that we find the smoking gun that proves that Reagan was the one who planted the false birth announcements in Honolulu newspapers.

  17. jukeboxgrad says:

    If you look at the polling on this issue, what they said reflects the views of most Rs, while it’s a view that’s strongly rejected by non-Rs. So there’s a certain clear logic to what they did: appealing to the base (i.e., the tea party) so they can win the primary. But this is an exceptionally simple, vivid example of what folks here already know: the tea party is a bunch of nuts, and the rest of the country (including the few sane Rs) is increasingly viewing them with horror.

    It’s been said a million times, but it’s quite true and important, so it needs to be repeated: any candidate sane enough to beat Obama will not get the needed tea party votes in the primary. The only candidate who can beat Obama is Romney, but the tea party will not allow that. Just like they would not allow McConnell and Boehner to accept Obama’s 4-1 deal. The country is kind of stunned that the tea party had the power to block that deal, but they did. Likewise, they have the power to block Romney.

    The GOP really is this nuts. We know this because of all sorts of events and markers, but this 10-1 story is another important marker.

    The tea party will accept only a candidate like Palin, Bachmann, Perry, Cain, or Santorum. Palin is the strongest member of that group (although Perry is close). That’s why I think Palin will be nominated.

    An interesting and important moment is going to be when the GOP establishment realizes that it can’t have Romney, and that in order to stop Palin it has to support Perry.

    I think they will probably realize that Perry will also lose to Obama, but while doing less downticket damage to the GOP.