Grover Norquist, noted defender of the taxpayer and leader of Americans for Tax Reform, has sent a letter to Congressman Scott Rigell’s campaign donors in an effort to inform them about Rigell’s proposal of higher taxes.
If you recall, Rigell has warned the GOP caucus that an increase in revenue must be part of the budget solution for our national spending woes. From the Virginian-Pilot:
In a letter to GOP House colleagues this week, Rigell said breaking the no-tax-increase pledge drawn up by Grover Norquist’s lobbying group, Americans for Tax Reform, is “a mathematical – and fiscally conservative – imperative.”
Rigell originally signed the pledge, which has long been an article of faith for many Republican politicians. But he renounced it earlier this year and was comfortably re-elected to a second term in November.
In his letter to fellow House Republicans, Rigell said an analysis of budget data shows that without new tax revenue, “continuing deficit spending and escalating debt are inevitable.”
Without a doubt, this did not go unnoticed by Norquist. Hence, this letter.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the back-handed compliments in Norquist’s missive…so, what does Rigell think about this?
Instead of guessing, I asked him. Here’s our interview:
1) Do you feel you are under pressure from “spending/special interests” and that you are “caving” to these pressures?
I take very seriously my duty to cast votes guided by the Constitution, the wisdom of the district, and my best judgment. At times, though less often than I had expected, special interest organizations attempt to influence my votes. I have not “caved” to those pressures.
I sought this office because Washington is broken. Difficult steps must be taken requiring Members to lead by example. That is why I will never become a lobbyist, nor will I meet with a former Member of Congress who has become a lobbyist.
2) Norquist writes:
“You know that Congressman Rígell is on the right side of this fight. You know this because when he first ran for Congress, he signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to oppose higher taxes. This was a personal written commitment that he made to both supporters like you and Virginia taxpayers for the duration of his time in Congress. He Wants to keep this promise, but to do that he has to fight against President Obama, Leader Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Reid, and the union bosses. . .”
Do you want to keep the promise? Have things changed, in your view, since arriving in Congress? Norquist goes on to talk about Washington’s propensity to spend. Do you think Washington has a spending problem and, if so, how would you cut spending?
These important questions have been fully addressed in two letters I have written. The first, sent to the district in February of this year, addresses my decision regarding the Americans for Tax Reform pledge. The second letter I recently sent to my Republican House colleagues, excerpts of which are below. You can read the letter in its entirety here.
Excerpts from a letter written “After a careful review of CBO data, a strong case can be made that our current tax code’s long-term, “permanent” yield will not exceed 17% of GDP. That yield is locked-in by the Americans for Tax Reform pledge, which requires any change in the tax code to be revenue neutral. Yet floor votes make clear that our Conference is unwilling to pass a budget which cuts spending to 17% of GDP. I believe this is a serious defect in our fiscal platform:
Even if the RSC Budget (which I support and voted for) becomes law and the economy grows at a robust rate, continued deficit spending and escalating debt are inevitable. Increasing revenues through tax reform (as well as through growth) is a mathematical – and fiscally conservative – imperative.
To properly work through this debate I respectfully submit that in addition to being guided by sound data, we need to examine what it means to be a fiscal conservative. Surely, in addition to fighting for smaller government, it means paying for the size and scope of government for which we have voted. That is why supporting an agreement that results in higher revenue and lower expenses in the “fiscal cliff” negotiations is not political weakness. Rather, it is sound conservative fiscal policy.
Reckless, unsustainable federal spending is what threatens the foundation of our Republic, and the case I make for additional revenue should not be interpreted as a lack of understanding on that critical point. As a father and grandfather, the depth of my disappointment with the Administration – and our House Democratic colleagues – for misrepresenting and mocking our budget while failing to provide a tangible alternative cannot be overstated.”
3) What is your general impression of the letter? What purpose do you think it has? Do you feel at all discouraged by Norquist’s response to your proposal?
As a businessman, I go where the numbers lead me. As I present the budget data that is guiding my policy positions, I am waiting for someone to say (and prove empirically, with data and not talking points): “Scott, your numbers are wrong.” To this day, that hasn’t happened. As conservatives, and as fellow Americans, we must wisely and boldly confront fiscal reality. And so I will continue to share this conservative message with my colleagues in Washington, our friends and neighbors in the district, and indeed, across America.