Op-Ed of the Day: The “Norquists of the left”

Jon Avlon in The Daily Beast says it’s great that some leading Republicans are turning their backs on Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge that the Washington Post refers to as “a sacred and unchallenged keystone of the Republican platform for more than two decades.”

But now, Avlon says, Democrats need to “step up on entitlement.” Obama seemed willing during the summer 2011 negotiations with Speaker John Boehner.

Among the specifics the White House proposed were $1 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years, as well as significant cuts and cost adjustments to Medicare and Social Security. There was evident willingness to take on liberal sacred cows and special interests.

But Avlon wonders whether the Congressional Democrats will stand up to “the Norquists of the left.”

That is the big question. Labor unions rightly believe that they were essential to the president’s winning coalition and ground-game effort in the November election. They and many liberal partisans will insist that now is not the time to make any concessions, especially on core philosophic policies like Social Security and Medicaid. They will find comfort in the arguments of some party activists and pundits who say there is no problem, that the fiscal cliff is a myth, and that current levels of deficits and debt are perfectly sustainable, especially if we just soak the rich. They are, like their conservative corollaries, embracing a feel-good reality distortion field.

leaders.jpg(L-R) House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speak to the media at the White House on November 16, 2012 in Washington, DC. The Congressional leaders met with U.S. President Barack Obama to discuss deficit reduction and other economic issues. (Photo by Roger Wollenberg/Getty Images)

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  • Jefferson

    This is the major issue…for some reason Grover Norquist gets all the press coverage. Every labor group and many other groups like the AARP are resisting any sort of change to Social Security and Medicare (even common sense ones like increasing the age of benefits by a year or two over decades). These are much more detrimental to the negotiations since that’s where we have an issue. Even Simpson-Bowles uses many more cuts (80%) to balance the budget than revenue increases (20%)…yet once again the revenue side of the equation gets all the press coverage. I’ve heard the Republicans come forward with revenue increases, until the Democrats come forward with spending cuts (especially common sense ones for SS and Medicare) there is no real discussion. BTW, I do recall last summer that Republicans did offer up revenue…the Democrats have NEVER offered up spending cuts (other than to the military)…that is the problem! It’s really very sad that the media has an agenda and does not report the fiscal cliff and budget issues without a bias.

  • Jefferson

    This topic would be a very interesting segment on the Daily Circuit…I’ve heard many segments about the Republicans not moving on taxes and discussions about Grover Norquist but rarely have I heard the other side of the coin. The Republicans have always offered up revenue increases (even in the 2011 budget standoff) but you’d hardly know that based on the media portrayal of them. A discussion about the many labor unions and AARP type groups resisting movement on entitlement reform would be enlightening to the many Democrats who listen to MPR…especially since it is the Democrats who are intransigent on that issue…I haven’t heard a single realistic plan on solving Medicare from an elected Democrat and rarely have I heard common sense solutions to Social Security like increasing the age requirements for recipients (to line up more closely with an increase in lifespan) coming from the left.