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Posted at 3:54 PM ET, 02/14/2011

Relishing a fight

By Jennifer Rubin

This afternoon I spoke to Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform, who declared, "I'm happy today." Happy with a gargantuan budget? Why yes, he's delighted that the "Republicans did exactly the right thing [on the Continuing Resolution] in stretching to $100B" while the president and his party can now be seen to be "unwilling to cut spending." He says that for those key independent voters who only occasionally engage in politics and who "broke 60-40% against Republicans in 2008," this is a critical contrast.

He made three observations. First, he says that the advantageous position Republicans now enjoy stems from "the heroic victory" in the Senate in blocking the omnibus spending bill. Had the Senate Republicans not stood firm, they would have deprived Republicans of the opportunity to touch the budget for nearly a year. (Norquist says of the wavering and retiring Republican senators, "I had no leverage. Mitch McConnell somehow walked them back. How'd he do it? Someday I'll get up the nerve to ask him.") Instead, off the bat Republicans are seen cutting, and Obama is seen spending.

Second, in Norquist's view, sometimes a prolonged battle is better than a quick capitulation by the other side. He points to Tim Pawlenty (2012 candidate alert!). He says, "Why isn't Tim Pawlenty a star like Chris Christie? It's 'cause no one saw him do it. His budget veto [as Minnesota governor] was overruled by the state supreme court. He went to the Democrats and said he'd fight to the bitter end. They caved." Norquist said if the fight had gone on for two months, Pawlenty would "be a budget cutting star." In sum, a prolonged fight with the White House, in Norquist's eyes, works to Republicans' advantage.

And finally, he is optimistic that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's 2012 budget will be "fairly close to the closing position" on the budget. In his view, "All the pressure is on Obama to spend, and all the pressure on [the Republicans] is to cut."

We'll see if he's right, and if Obama made a fatal political miscalculation.

By Jennifer Rubin  | February 14, 2011; 3:54 PM ET
Categories:  Budget  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Where are the spending cuts?
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Is he right? I think he is. This is not going to be a Clinton/Newt redux. the citizenry, especially moderates and the Tea Party, are too engaged and focused.

Posted by: gord2 | February 14, 2011 4:24 PM | Report abuse

right thing [on the Continuing Resolution] in stretching to $100B" while the president and his party can now be seen to be "unwilling to cut spending."

I could cut the Budget $100 Billion while having a wet dream,$100 Billion is a joke.

Posted by: rcaruth | February 14, 2011 4:49 PM | Report abuse

If Huck, Palin and Thune don't run, Pawlenty has a very good shot to win IA.

Posted by: WS_Bull | February 14, 2011 5:16 PM | Report abuse

gord2 is spot on. Obama's feints and zig zags will continually energize the Tea Party folks. He is too ideological and narcissistic to respond intelligently to the lesson of November 2011. Indeed, November 12 is going to be a blowout. Obama will not be able to benefit from his false post-racial, post-partisan facade. He is seen for what he is, a radical America hater, and voters will not be fooled again.

Posted by: DocC1 | February 14, 2011 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Even left wing loon Andrew Sullivan understands what Obama is up to with his budget:

"To all those under 30 who worked so hard to get this man elected, know this: he just screwed you over. He thinks you're fools. Either the US will go into default because of Obama's cowardice, or you will be paying far far more for far far less because this president has no courage when it counts. He let you down. On the critical issue of America's fiscal crisis, he represents no hope and no change. Just the same old Washington politics he once promised to end."

Posted by: eoniii | February 14, 2011 8:00 PM | Report abuse

@rcaruth | 4:49 PM "...I could cut the Budget $100 Billion while having a wet dream,$100 Billion is a joke...." Then why are the Dems going to fight it to the bitter end? You make it sound like something a sensible person might do. Maybe because these are permanent cuts that amount to $1 trillion in ten years?

Now we all know that the big 3 (among a lot of other things) - SS, MCare, MAide - have to be reformed. But this is something that has only occurred when the House, Senate and President are in support. Actually, some House Republicans (Ryan in particular) have broached major reforms in this deadly triad. Where are Democrats other than Alice Rivlin and a couple of members of Obama's Commission on this? They seem to be missing in action, at best, or playing demagogue at worst.

The Repubs should bring the issue forward in discussion and in debates among the presidential candidates, but must leave it hanging until some powerful Democrats join in, or else they hold all the reins in DC.

So for now, I think the Republicans are doing what they said they would, but to go that next big step is not going to happen until the above transpires. I think these initial actions will pay dividends (if for example, they stop the EPA from shutting down America through their carbon insanities).

Whatever else, Obama comes out of this looking like a fool and the Repubs come out as being adults who do what they say, and on which they just enjoyed a massive electoral victory (in DC and throughout the nation).

Posted by: jafco | February 14, 2011 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Hmm. Well, the talking part seemingly begins:

Cowards or Heroes?
February 14, 2011 6:22 P.M.
By Daniel Foster

"...Okay, Eric Cantor makes it official: the Republicans are doing entitlement reforms (and from the sound of it, Ryan is taking the lead):..."

Posted by: jafco | February 14, 2011 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Wet dream? There are cures for that but I and, obviously, you, ain't gonna touch it!

(Sorry) ;-)

Posted by: aardunza | February 14, 2011 11:40 PM | Report abuse

It is time for some facts on corporate taxes.

The total of corporate income taxes in the US for 2012 is projected to be only 329 billion.

For context, Wall Street compensation in 2010 was 135 billion for only 25 publicly trade finance companies. Exxon alone had profits of 30 billion on revenues of 383 billion. They paid no corporate income taxes in 2009

And we need to cut corporate income taxes?

Posted by: FoundingMother | February 15, 2011 1:01 PM | Report abuse

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