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Norquist Says Letting Bush Tax Cuts Expire Not a Tax Increase, Then Backtracks

12:12 PM, Jul 21, 2011 • By MICHAEL WARREN
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Today's Washington Post editorial includes a nonsensical admission from Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist:

WITH A HANDFUL of exceptions, every Republican member of Congress has signed a pledge against increasing taxes. Would allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire as scheduled in 2012 violate this vow? We posed this question to Grover Norquist, its author and enforcer,and his answer was both surprising and encouraging: No.

In other words, according to Mr. Norquist’s interpretation of the Americans for Tax Reform pledge, lawmakers have the technical leeway to bring in as much as $4 trillion in new tax revenue — the cost of extending President George W. Bush’s tax cuts for another decade — without being accused of breaking their promise. “Not continuing a tax cut is not technically a tax increase,” Mr. Norquist told us. So it doesn’t violate the pledge? “We wouldn’t hold it that way,” he said.

Americans for Tax Reform has just released this statement to "clarify concerns" about the editorial:

ATR opposes all tax increases on the American people.  Any failure to extend or make permanent the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, in whole or in part, would clearly increase taxes on the American people.  In addition, the failure to extend the AMT patch would increase taxes.  The outlines of the plans are deliberately hazy, but it appears that both Obama’s Simpson-Bowles commission proposal and the Gang-of-Six proposal dramatically increase taxes on the American people.

It is a violation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to trade temporary tax reductions for permanent tax hikes. 

The present conversations in Washington should focus totally and exclusively on reducing government overspending.  President Barack Obama has increased the annual federal budget by almost $1 trillion dollars.  ATR has not altered either its policy positions or opposition to all tax increases whatsoever in any debt negotiations.

Tax reform that reduces tax rates and broadens the tax base on a revenue neutral basis should be done separately and not in a rush under duress from parties hostile to the interests of taxpayers.

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