McConnell can’t define ‘tax increase’ without Norquist’s help

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to the media about the "fiscal cliff" on Capitol Hill.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to the media about the "fiscal cliff" on Capitol Hill.
Yuri Gripas/Reuters

In the wake of the New Years fiscal cliff/curb/whatever deal, a lot has been made of Grover Norquist’s influence over the Republican Party. Does his infamous pledge still hold sway, or did its Republican signatories break that most sacred of oaths they made to the bearded lobbyist?

Speaking after that vote had already passed on the Hill to msnbc’s Andrea Mitchell, Grover Norquist said a vote for the fiscal cliff deal was not a vote against the pledge because the vote was not a vote to raise taxes. Norquist said, “[President Obama] can’t claim Republican fingerprints on his tax increase. What happened… was that all the tax rates went up and then the Republicans and the Congress together took them down for some people, not for everybody.”

You read that correctly. Somehow President Obama raised taxes on Americans with the fiscal cliff deal, but Republicans didn’t join him in doing so when they voted for it.

Meanwhile, the top Republican in the Senate is deferring to Norquist to define what is and what is not a tax hike. To repeat: a senator is letting a lobbyist define what is and is not a tax increase in America.

Sunday on NBC’S Meet the Press, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told David Gregory, “The arbiter of whether something is a tax increase or not is Americans for Tax Reform. The head of Americans for Tax Reform said it was not a tax increase. And had he been a senator he would have voted for it. Look, this was not a tax increase.” Click below to see that portion of the interview.

Sen. McConnell also seemed unaware of the irony he displayed as he repeatedly blasted the president for failing to lead on the issue of spending cuts—while he himself was admitting he takes his legislative cues from a lobbyist. McConnell’s criticism also ignores, as Gregory repeatedly pointed out, that in past offers, the president put spending cuts and entitlement reform on the table, and it was Republicans who walked away from those offers.

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