Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist’s hold over Republicans has slipped in the past week, as several prominent GOP senators and one congressman have signaled willingness to break from Norquist’s strict pledge to never raise taxes.
The debt ceiling fight in 2011 almost led to an unprecedented U.S. credit default because House Republicans refused to break from Norquist’s pledge and agree to any tax increase. While most Americans want to avoid another debacle, Norquist is now calling for even more frequent fights over the debt ceiling. During Wednesday’s Playbook Breakfast with Mike Allen, Norquist proposed that Congress force President Obama into monthly debt ceiling negotiations, or even weekly “if he misbehaves”:
MIKE ALLEN: This president is not going to extend [Bush tax cuts], he knows that he loses his leverage that way.
NORQUIST: Well, the Republicans also have other leverage. Continuing resolutions on spending and the debt ceiling increase. They can give him debt ceiling increases once a month. They can have him on a rather short leash, you know, here’s your allowance, come back next month.
ALLEN: Okay, wait. You’re proposing that the debt ceiling be increased month by month?
NORQUIST: Monthly if he’s good. Weekly if he’s not.
The last high-stakes fight over the debt ceiling resulted in record low approval ratings for Congress and the downgrading of U.S. credit for the first time in history. That one fight also cost taxpayers $18.9 billion. Norquist now wants to replicate this debacle 12 or possibly 52 times per year.