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Bill Moyers: The Truth Behind Grover Norquist's Pledge

Tuesday, 11 December 2012 09:14 By Bill Moyers, Moyers & Company | Video Report

Media

Norquist mainGrover Norquist, a conservative lobbyist who is author of an antitax pledge, at the Americans for Tax Reform's offices in Washington, November 19, 2012. (Photo: Luke Sharrett / The New York Times) In an original broadcast essay, Bill says there’s more to Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge than ideology or principle - it’s also about Norquist’s efforts keep taxes low for his donor base of billionaires.

TRANSCRIPT:

BILL MOYERS: Don’t you wonder just who is this Grover Norquist who has such a maniacal hold on the Republican Party? Mickey Edwards isn’t the only conservative who would like to see the party free itself from his grip. Writing in the "Financial Times" last week, the conservative journalist Christopher Caldwell describes the Norquist Pledge as a “partisan document,” “a ratchet driving taxes down to unsustainable levels,” and it “symbolizes a political system short on legitimacy.” Norquist claims the pledge is something politicians make to their constituents, not to him. But Caldwell wonders “who authorized him to collect politicians’ signatures on their constituents’ behalf.”

Even this misses the main point. Norquist’s efforts – keep taxes low for his donor base, billionaires like the Koch brothers and the plutocrats secretly clustered around Norquist’s comrade, Karl Rove. This past election, Norquist’s group, Americans for Tax Reform, spent nearly $16 million to support his favored candidates; that’s according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Where did that money come from, and what did it buy? Back in the 1990’s it was the tobacco industry backing Norquist’s fight against cigarette taxes; now it’s the pharmaceutical companies, among others. Not long ago, this same Grover Norquist was using his organization to launder money for the notorious lobbyist Jack Abramoff. How about that for tax reform!

Check it out yourself in the documentary "Capitol Crimes" on our website BillMoyers.com. You’ll see the story of how the man who has the Republican Party under his thumb came to Washington to start a revolution and wound up running a racket. Now he’s the proxy for the powerful interest groups that finance him. So, not only does the Norquist Pledge symbolize a "political system short on legitimacy," as Christopher Caldwell wrote, it isn’t even about principle or ideology. Conservatism my foot, it’s all about the money.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Bill Moyers

A broadcast journalist for more than four decades, Bill Moyers has been recognized as one of the unique voices of our times, one that resonates with multiple generations. In 2012, at the age of 77, Moyers begins his latest media venture with the launch of "Moyers & Company." With his wife and creative partner, Judith Davidson Moyers, Bill Moyers has produced such groundbreaking public affairs series as "NOW with Bill Moyers" (2002-2005) and "Bill Moyers Journal" (2007-2010). 

For his work, Moyers has received more than 30 Emmys, two prestigious Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, nine Peabodys, and three George Polk Awards. Moyers' most recent book, "Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation Continues," was published in May 2011. He currently serves as president of the Schumann Media Center, a nonprofit organization that supports independent journalism.


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Bill Moyers: The Truth Behind Grover Norquist's Pledge

Tuesday, 11 December 2012 09:14 By Bill Moyers, Moyers & Company | Video Report

Media

Norquist mainGrover Norquist, a conservative lobbyist who is author of an antitax pledge, at the Americans for Tax Reform's offices in Washington, November 19, 2012. (Photo: Luke Sharrett / The New York Times) In an original broadcast essay, Bill says there’s more to Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge than ideology or principle - it’s also about Norquist’s efforts keep taxes low for his donor base of billionaires.

TRANSCRIPT:

BILL MOYERS: Don’t you wonder just who is this Grover Norquist who has such a maniacal hold on the Republican Party? Mickey Edwards isn’t the only conservative who would like to see the party free itself from his grip. Writing in the "Financial Times" last week, the conservative journalist Christopher Caldwell describes the Norquist Pledge as a “partisan document,” “a ratchet driving taxes down to unsustainable levels,” and it “symbolizes a political system short on legitimacy.” Norquist claims the pledge is something politicians make to their constituents, not to him. But Caldwell wonders “who authorized him to collect politicians’ signatures on their constituents’ behalf.”

Even this misses the main point. Norquist’s efforts – keep taxes low for his donor base, billionaires like the Koch brothers and the plutocrats secretly clustered around Norquist’s comrade, Karl Rove. This past election, Norquist’s group, Americans for Tax Reform, spent nearly $16 million to support his favored candidates; that’s according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Where did that money come from, and what did it buy? Back in the 1990’s it was the tobacco industry backing Norquist’s fight against cigarette taxes; now it’s the pharmaceutical companies, among others. Not long ago, this same Grover Norquist was using his organization to launder money for the notorious lobbyist Jack Abramoff. How about that for tax reform!

Check it out yourself in the documentary "Capitol Crimes" on our website BillMoyers.com. You’ll see the story of how the man who has the Republican Party under his thumb came to Washington to start a revolution and wound up running a racket. Now he’s the proxy for the powerful interest groups that finance him. So, not only does the Norquist Pledge symbolize a "political system short on legitimacy," as Christopher Caldwell wrote, it isn’t even about principle or ideology. Conservatism my foot, it’s all about the money.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Bill Moyers

A broadcast journalist for more than four decades, Bill Moyers has been recognized as one of the unique voices of our times, one that resonates with multiple generations. In 2012, at the age of 77, Moyers begins his latest media venture with the launch of "Moyers & Company." With his wife and creative partner, Judith Davidson Moyers, Bill Moyers has produced such groundbreaking public affairs series as "NOW with Bill Moyers" (2002-2005) and "Bill Moyers Journal" (2007-2010). 

For his work, Moyers has received more than 30 Emmys, two prestigious Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, nine Peabodys, and three George Polk Awards. Moyers' most recent book, "Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation Continues," was published in May 2011. He currently serves as president of the Schumann Media Center, a nonprofit organization that supports independent journalism.


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