Charles Krupa/AP Photo
President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara (file)
Former President George H.W. Bush, now 88, has something to say to those who are unwilling to compromise — specifically to Grover Norquist and those who sign his tax pledge.
"The rigidity of those pledges is something I don't like," the former president said in an interview with PARADE. "The circumstances change and you can't be wedded to some formula by Grover Norquist. It's — who the hell is Grover Norquist, anyway?"
At this point, former first lady Barbara Bush interjected, "I think he ought to go back to Alaska [laughs]." This being a reference to a comment she made about Sarah Palin in 2010.
During the 1988 presidential campaign, Bush made a very bold campaign pledge not to raise taxes on the American people. Once he was elected, however, Bush 41 made the choice of compromising with the Democratic-controlled Congress in order to tackle the country's deficit. In doing so, the president broke his famous campaign pledge and alienated members of the Republican party establishment.
Mrs. Bush summed up their relationship as that of father and son saying, "I think he thinks of George as the father he never had. Truthfully. I mean that as a compliment. He's been very thoughtful about calling and he's a good fellow."
Alex Wong/Getty Images for Meet the Press
"Grover Norquist, talk to the hand."
Cracks are beginning to show in Grover Norquist's once rock-solid hold over the GOP on taxes. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham urged his members of his party to consider eliminating tax deductions and be more flexible in the interest of paying down the country's mountain of debt.
"When you eliminate a deduction, it's OK with me to use some of that money to get us out of debt. That's where I disagree with the pledge," Graham said in an interview with ABC News on Tuesday. Paging Norquist on the set...
"When you talk about eliminating deductions and tax credits for the few, at the expense of the many, I think over time the Republican Party's position is going to shift. It needs to, quite frankly, because we are $16 trillion in debt," he said.
Graham expects equal flexibility from Democrats on entitlement reform. "I'm willing to move my party, or try to, on the tax issue. I need someone on the Democratic side being willing to move their party on structural changes to entitlements."
Graham's position is a baby step towards independence from Norquist and he's one of a small club of Republicans currently in office, like Senator Tom Coburn and Congressman Frank Wolf, who are standing up to Norquist's organization, Americans for Tax Reform. Retired Republicans like Alan Simpson and Jeb Bush have spoken out, although Bush recently conceded that would probably make him unable to get elected given the current climate of the Republican party.
Lawrence O'Donnell previously pegged Norquist as "the most powerful man in American who does not sleep in the White House" over his pledge holding thousands of GOP leaders — including the likes of Graham and presidential nominee Mitt Romney — at the mercy of Americans for Tax Reform. They agreed to oppose all tax increases unless they are met with a matching dollar-for-dollar tax cut. If this eye-for-an-eye oath sounds like it was crafted in the 7th grade — bingo! — it actually was.
Justin M. Lesniewski/Washington Post
Grover Norquist: Ayn Randian anti-tax crusader and Hollywood (not so) superstar
Lawrence O'Donnell has called Grover Norquist "the most powerful man in American who does not sleep in the White House." Norquist is also known for being an anti-tax advocate as the founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform. His other lengthy titles can be read here.
But now, Norquist can ad actor to his resume... sort of.
The Washington Post's Reliable Source blog reports that Norquist is appearing in the second part of the "Atlas Shrugged" film trilogy based on Ayn Rand's novel of the same name. The Post report reads:
Norquist... first shot an office scene, handing a three-ring binder to heroine Dagny Taggart’s assistant. Easy enough, it sounds. Then producers suggested a second role. For a scene where Dagny and Hank Rearden walked along the street discussing the decline of society, they put Norquist in the background as some kind of down-and-out businessman, slumped on a stone bench, a bottle of wine in his lap. They roughed up his face with makeup, and messed up his hair, but he wore his own suit.
Nothing says Hollywood entertainment like two characters "walk(ing) along the street discussing the decline of society." Where's the popcorn?
But the biggest question remains: how did Grover do? WaPost has the answer for that, too.
The actor playing Hank commended Norquist’s acting ability — he even stayed in character between takes! Consider it his Method approach: Having woken up 20 hours earlier for his West Coast flight, Norquist was nodding off by the time of the night shoot. “I’m half asleep, my character’s half asleep,” he said.
I wouldn't look for this to be Norquist's big break. The first film received very dismissive reviews and was a box office flop when it came out last year. But the film's producers are still promising to deliver two more sequels having divided Rand's +1,000-page book into a screenplay trilogy.
"Atlas Shrugged: Part 2" (with an entirely new cast and crew) including the Norquist cameos (presuming they don't end up on the cutting room floor) is due to be released just before this November's election. So will this one be a hit with Washington conservatives in love with Rand's ideas? Maybe. Will it be required viewing for Rep. Paul Ryan's staff? You can watch our Rewrite from two weeks ago and decide.
This year's CPAC had a lot of memorable moments, mainly because the conference gives every important conversative the opportunity to state their purpose. They put themselves on record and we are all left to glean their worldview and intentions. And much of what was covered were the speeches given by the Republican candidates for president and the fiery presentations by Ann Coulter and Sarah Palin.
David Frum called attention to Grover Norquist's speech where he said something extremely significant. Our very own Lawrence O'Donnell has explained many times how Norquist is the most powerful man in Washington who does not live in the White House.
Norquist brazenly admitted that even the person in the White House does not matter much anymore.
"We are not auditioning for fearless leader. We don't need a president to tell us in what direction to go," Norquist said on Saturday. "The leadership now for the modern conservative movement for the next 20 years will be coming out of the House and the Senate."
Grover Norquist confessed that he wants a weak-willed president, like Mitt Romney, in office so he can be forced to sign every bill sent from a Republican congress Norquist controls. To him, that person just needs "enough working digits to handle a pen."
Just imagine it: an unchecked Norquist Congress. A harrowing reminder of the stakes involved this November.
Grover Norquist's anti-tax pledge has been undone by something signers of his pledge via a loophole they wrote into law 10 years ago. Grover is in deep trouble tonight and he knows it. MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell has the story.
Oh no! Grover Norquist is going to make Seth Meyers sign his tax pledge! Or maybe the President of Americans for Tax Reform (and amateur comedian) is getting some stand-up tips. They met at a TIME mag Person of the Year panel. Leave your caption below.
House Speaker John Boehner referred to anti-tax lobbyist/most powerful Republican in America, Grover Norquist, as a "random person" on Capitol Hill. MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell explains in the Rewrite.
Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist (file)
A Republican took on Grover Norquist while testifying to the congressional super-committee on deficit-reduction. All six Republicans on the debt super committee, like almost every Republican in Congress, have signed Grover Norquist's pledge to never, ever raise taxes in any way.
Yesterday, former Republican Senator Alan Simpson, the co-chair of President Obama's deficit-reduction commission, appeared before the super-committee and begged the Republicans to break their pledge to Grover Norquist.
"This is a fake to say that you get rid of a tax expenditure and it's a tax increase. So, we said we're not going to give into that business of tax increase so that Grover won't have a stroke over in his shop," Simpson lectured. "We're just gonna go around Grover and let Grover rant."
He drove his point home by sharing an anecdote of a conversation he once had with Norquist.
Simpson said, "I asked him, he said: my hero is Ronald Reagan. I said, well he raised taxes 11 times in his eight years. He said, I don’t know, I didn’t like that at all. I said, well he did it. Why do you suppose? He said, I don't know, it's very disappointing. I said, he probably did it to make the country run. Another sick idea."
The Republicans should have seen this coming, after what Senator Simpson told NBC's Chuck Todd on the "Daily Rundown."
"He can't murder you. He can't burn your house down," He told the MSNBC host. "The only thing he can do to you is defeat you for re-election. And if that means more to you than your country, you really shouldn’t be in Congress.
People are starting to catch on to the fact Herman Cain's 999 plan translates to the majority of Americans paying more in taxes. Who will pay more specifically? We crunched the numbers on two hypothetical families: A family of four making $50,000 per year — married, filing jointly, with two dependent children — and a similar type of family making $1 million per year. Ultimately, the family making $50k would pay $5,000 more in taxes. And the family making a cool mill would pay $144,000 less in taxes. No wonder Donald Trump digs the idea.
Former Sen. Alan Simpson, the co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, joined the Last Word to discuss how Obama handled the negotiations and what to expect with the debt super committee.
And you can't talk about fixing the debt, without talking about revenues. Grover Norquist, the anti-tax pledge master and second most powerful man in Washington, who, by the way, is not even an elected official, came up quite a few times in this conversation with Lawrence. Simpson called for an investigation into Norquist's extreme reach within the Republican party.
"If Grover Norquist is more powerful than the President of the United States and Congress, he should run for president," said Simpson. "It's time now peel all the layers of onion off of Grover Norquist."
There were too many zingers in this interview to count. Watch for yourself.
Yuri Gripas/AP; Gerald Herbert/AP
Grover Norquist and Jack Abramoff (file)
A lot has been written up lately about Grover Norquist as the debt-limit talks continue to make limited progress. Grover is the man Republicans in Washington continue to stand by as the country inches closer to an economic calamity.
Republicans in Congress will not budge on raising revenues knowing that Grover has their original signed copy of the Americans for Tax Reform pledge locked up in a fireproof vault. Ninety-five percent of Republicans in Congress signed it and Grover's iron grip on all of them has never been so fully on display, therefore gaining a lot more scrutiny in the media. However, in another moment of #nostralawrence, our show has been calling Grover "the most powerful man in Washington that doesn't live in the White House" for a while now. He has even been a guest on our show!
Well, yesterday, Grover took to Twitter to vent his frustration on the debt-limit talks by tweeting the following:
Yes, the dude who reinforces billionaires' arms over their bags of money is calling people greedy. The dude who passionately protects the incomes of hedge fund managers, Wall Street bankers, corporate jet owners and oil/ethanol profiteers. The dude who wants to prevent the slightest increase in their taxes or any changes to deductions or subsidies is calling people greedy.
If you were to ever think of a caricature of greed in Washington you might actually think of this guy: lobbyist Jack Abramoff. It turns out that Grover and Abramoff are good old pals going back to their days in the College Republicans. Documents in the federal probe of the Abramoff scandal revealed Grover "allowed his nonprofit, tax-exempt organization, Americans for Tax Reform, to be used as a pass-through for money that Abramoff's clients handed over to finance lobbying campaigns aimed at influencing public officials. For his trouble, Norquist kept a cut of the funds."
Making a profit off of peddling influence over a government by using your nonprofit, tax-exempt organization — that's greedy.
The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell airs at 10pm ET, Monday through Thursday on MSNBC. The show channels O'Donnell's extensive background in politics and entertainment.
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