Grover Norquist, the president of the anti-tax group Americans for Tax Reform and enforcer of a pledge that binds a majority of the House to never supporting a tax increase, maintained Wednesday on Andrea Mitchell Reports that Tuesday night's eleventh-hour fiscal cliff deal was not, in fact, a tax increase.
The deal passed by the Senate, then pushed through the House at the very end of New Year's Day allows the Bush-era tax cuts to expire on individuals making more than $400,000 and families making more than $450,000--thereby increasing those individual's tax contribution. It marks the first time Republicans voted in favor of legislation that increased taxes in 20 years. Yet Norquist argued that "no Republican voted for a tax increase."
"[President Obama] can't claim Republican fingerprints on his tax increase," Norquist told Andrea Mitchell. "What happened yesterday 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."
On its website, the conservative Heritage Foundation voiced another opinion. "No one should fall for this. The Senate bill is a tax hike because it allows taxes to go up from 2012 to 2013." Another conservative group, the Club For Growth, whose stated goal is to reduce income tax rates, also criticized the bill on its website, "This bill raises taxes immediately with the promise of cutting spending later."
While the bill passed the Senate with wide bipartisan support, 151 Republicans voted it down in the House, including Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Speaker John Boehner voted for it.
Asked whether Speaker John Boehner rejected the opportunity for a better deal than the one passed by abandoning a "grand bargain" with President Obama, Norquist insisted that a previous deal in which Obama indicated flexibility on modifying Social Security "was never a reality" and that "last night was not a final deal."
Congress now looks to its next showdown over cutting spending--a battle in which Norquist insists Republicans have the upper hand.
"Now we have a fight for four years on how to rein in Obama's overspending. The Republicans have three pressure points, the president has none," Norquist said. "From now on, they are now united against the president's increased spending and the president's efforts to increase taxes, as well."