If you had to list the top 10 most powerful people in politics in America, whom would you put on your list? President Obama? Certainly. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? Absolutely, at least until she retires. House Speaker John Boehner? Maybe, maybe not. What about Grover Norquist? If you just found yourself asking, “who is that?” you shouldn’t feel bad.
Grover Norquist isn’t exactly a household name for most Americans. He’s not a congressman, senator, governor, or member of any elected office. He’s not a judge, and he’s not a member of the Obama cabinet. He doesn’t own a bank or an oil company. But if I had to point a finger of blame at one person for why this country cannot find any common ground when it comes to fiscal policy, it would be Grover Norquist.
Grover Norquist is the founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform. The organization has worked tirelessly to get 219 representatives and 39 senators to sign a short and simple pledge. It states that said representative or senator will, under no circumstance, vote to increase the marginal income tax and oppose any eliminations of deductions without equal reductions made to taxes. You may ask yourself why any representative of government would agree to a pledge that completely constrains their ability to cooperate or compromise with their counterparts when it comes to any fiscal issue. The answer is, as it so often is, money.
It is near-impossible for a Republican member of congress to win a primary without taking the pledge today, and, if they break it, Grover Norquist’s organization will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to ‘remind’ the voters that they broke the pledge and that representative can expect to say goodbye to their seat come next election. Grover Norquist has been fighting against taxes since the days of Reagan. He claims to want to shrink government back down to the size it was at during the era of Teddy Roosevelt or, to quote him, to “reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” So when Congress gets together again to try and compromise about the fiscal future of our country and you find yourself wondering why on earth ideas like raising taxes on the very wealthy are so painful, as they were during the recent “fiscal cliff” negotiations and even though 60 percent of Americans believe they should be raised, look to Grover Norquist.
Ariana Chomitz is a junior anthropology major from Bethesda, Maryland. She writes from Fortaleza, Brazil, where she is researching development studies.
“Frustration finally boiled over in the form of the Occupy Various Random Spaces movement, wherein people who were sick and tired of a lot of stuff finally got off their butts and started working for meaningful change via direct action in the form of sitting around and forming multiple committees and drumming and not directly issuing any specific demands but definitely having a lot of strongly held views for and against a wide variety of things.” –Dave Barry’s Year in Review: 2011
The rise and subsequent stall of the Occupy Movement in less than a year shows that it will not change American policy in a fundamental way. As thunderous as the original roar was, I would be surprised if Occupy lasts two more years, let alone twenty.
But in Brazil, a truer Occupy movement has been quietly sustained by occasional victories in a long struggle since the 1980s. Continue reading →
In the past few years, two documentary films have been released that paint contrasting portraits of the state of American education. In Davis Guggenheim’s Waiting for Superman, low-income, prominently minority students long for educational opportunity, but are trapped in failing schools where teachers unions serve as a bulwark to reform and accountability. The solution: the style of education reform endorsed by George W. Bush that emphasizes greater flexibility in the hiring and firing of teachers, longer hours and public school choice particularly with charter schools. The second film, Race to Nowhere, not so subtly alludes to Obama’s marquee educational policy. Upper middle class students struggle with the high stakes of standardized testing and the college admission process, pressure that drives students to physical illness and even suicide. The solution: less emphasis on the sort of high stakes tests and data driven reforms that Waiting for Superman so passionately advocates. Continue reading →
Last night, Agora, the Kenyon Democrats and the Kenyon Observer hosted a great discussion ahead of next week’s Center for the Study of American Democracy conference, entitled “should America promote democracy abroad?”
The interesting and informal conversation asked both that question itself as well as what that question means: what do we mean by democracy? Continue reading →
Last Thursday, after heated debate on the floor (and in the lobby) of the Georgia House of Representatives, HB 954, a bill already approved by the Senate that seeks to criminalize abortions performed after twenty weeks, was passed and now awaits the signature of Governor Nathan Deal. Continue reading →
The Kenyon Observer is interested in running a series of posts on student debt. Please take our survey and tell us more about your situation in the comments or via email at email@example.com if you are comfortable doing so. All names and other personal information will be kept confidential.
This week, the news has been abuzz over the oral arguments before the Supreme Court on the Affordable Care Act of 2010. Regarding the individual insurance mandate at the core of the bill, there are a two major misconceptions to clear up, one for our conservative friends and one for our liberal friends. Continue reading →
Our public school system is failing lower-income Americans. Plain and simple. Students who are from even modestly wealthy backgrounds are able to attend at least decent public or private schools, but those from lower income neighborhoods are denied this choice and find themselves sending their children to poor performing drop out factories. Continue reading →
Social engineering and economic tomfoolery are on display more prominently than usual in the United Kingdom amid calls for minimum prices on alcohol. “‘When beer is cheaper than water,” sermonized nanny David explained Prime Minister David Cameron, “it’s just too easy for people to get drunk on cheap alcohol at home before they even set foot in a pub.” Continue reading →