Supercommittee Death Watch: Here There Be Norquists

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 15 2011 4:48 PM

Supercommittee Death Watch: Here There Be Norquists

In this edition of the Supercommittee death watch, which should pick up as the November 23 deadline lurches nearer, I'm marveling at how much time Harry Reid spent talking about Grover Norquist today. He walked outside the Senate Democrats' weekly luncheon, addressed the media, and then announced a reading.

"You've all seen what Grover Norquist has said the last day or two," said Reid. "I'll read some of his quotes. They're priceless."

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And then he read the quotes. First, Norquist saying Republcians were double-talking about what they'd accept from a debt deal.

"It's not written down," said Reid-as-Norquist, "it's a negotiating position… I've talked to the House leadership and the Senate leadership. They're not going to raise taxes." Another quote from another interview: The deal-making Republicans have "Stockholm Syndrome."

"It's obvious that Grover Norquist has a lot of pull in the Republican caucus," said Reid. "That's an understatement. So far, I haven't seen any indication that they'll move off their pledge."

He was referring to the anti-tax pledge that, actually, Norquist has been having some unexpected trouble enforcing. As Republicans would remind reporters, they had started offering deals with tiny -- yet existing! -- tax loophole-killers. Ah, but it's not enough. Greg Sargent explains it pretty well: Republicans will give in on loopholes in exchange for tax reform based on the permanence of Bush tax rates, a net tax cut in the trillions. So Reid keeps his eye on the target, freezes it, polarizes it. As he concluded remarks, a PBS reporter who usually asks some version of "what should the American people think" asked Reid: If he's so pessimistic, "what should the American people make of it?"

"Maybe they should impeach Grover Norquist," he said.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.