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Throw the Bums Out

Grover Norquist, president of a taxpayer advocacy group, Americans for Tax Reform, speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

With recent polls announcing the approval rating of Congress as a whole is below 20 percent, the implication is that the voters from each district and state should throw their bums out. It is the 276 members of the Norquist faction in the House and Senate who are committed by a private pledge to Grover Norquist to kill the president's American Jobs Act that should be shown to the door first.

Killing the American Jobs Act as well as the contrived debt ceiling shakedown of this past July are part of a broad agenda of the Norquist faction to destroy the public interest legislation that has empowered the people of the United States since the 1930s. The shakedown proves that the practice of American politics has changed from deliberative democracy to factional warfare. Politics is no longer policy diplomacy in houses of legislation. Now, it is gutter fighting in which the puppets of powerful godfathers make offers that leaders cannot refuse. No matter what our district, state, region, age, race, ethnicity, religion or political creed, all people of the United States must stand together to fight this Norquist faction.

Founding father James Madison understood the evil of factions. In the “Federalist No. 10,” he defined factions as “a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common … interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens or to the…. aggregate interests of the community.” Madison saw that the most common and durable source of factions is the unequal distribution of property. While the causes of factions cannot be removed by government, the task of government is to control their effects. The Budget Control Act of 2011 and their probable success in killing President Obama's jobs bill are the latest display of the failure of our government to control the destructive effects of the Norquist faction.

All members of the Norquist faction in federal, state and local government are committed to a pledge that states: “I will: ONE, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses; and TWO, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.” The pledge requires faction members to oppose increased tax rates and reduced tax credits or deductions that would permit government to increase its revenue regardless of the crises facing the country. Implementing their pledge through debt ceiling extortion, the Norquist faction kept deficit reducing tax increases out of the Budget Control Act of 2011. They are bound to oppose the American Jobs Act of 2011 because it will require increased deficit spending and tax revenue.

The Norquist faction is committed to cut public interest spending and to block legislation to increase tax revenues that will prevent government investment to create jobs to bring us out of the Great Recession of 2008 in the way government investment brought us out of the Great Depression of the 1930s. They want to cripple the power of government to collect revenue to pay for job creating spending. They want to kill our government's ability to increase payroll tax revenues by creating jobs that will sustain Social Security and Medicare at a time when jobs are being shipped overseas and unemployment is high.

For Social Security and Medicare to work, they must run a surplus and collect more in payroll taxes than they spend in recipient benefits. Over the years, the Social Security Fund has invested its 2.5 trillion dollar surplus in interest paying government debt obligations issued by The United States Treasury. In 2010, $100 billion dollars in interest paid on those debt obligations covered a short fall in the payroll taxes that Social Security received. In 2010, Medicare suffered a greater shortfall. When the debt ceiling is not raised and shortfalls in Social Security and Medicare payroll tax receipts are not covered, Social Security and Medicare cannot pay what they owe to seniors.

Americans of all ages must recognize our common interest and our collective power at the ballot box to rid the country of the Norquist faction at all levels of government. We must start talking about how to purge it from power. We must preserve our safety nets, bring our country out of recession though government spending and increased government revenue in order to restore the constitutional republic that James Madison envisioned.