“Raising taxes slows the economy. Raising taxes kills jobs. Government spending does not create jobs. The idea that if you take a dollar out of the economy from somebody who earned it, either through debt or through taxes, and give it to somebody who is politically connected, that there are more dollars around? That if you stand on one side of the lake and put a bucket into the lake and walk around to the other side in front of the TV cameras, pour the bucket back into the lake and announce you’re stimulating the lake to great depths. We just wasted $800 billion on stimulus spending that added to debt that killed jobs. There are fewer jobs than before.”
— Anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist, on “Meet the Press,” Nov. 27, 2011
“In 1982, the Democrats said, ‘Gee, if you let us raise taxes, we’ll cut spending $3 for every $1 of tax increase.’ Taxes were raised. Spending didn’t go down, spending went up. The same thing happened in 1990, although George Bush — Herbert Walker Bush — was promised $2 in phony spending cuts for every dollar of tax increase. Taxes went up, spending actually increased. It wasn’t cut. Twice the Democrats have said let’s raise taxes and cut spending; twice taxes were increased, spending was not reduced at all.”
— Norquist, later in the same program
“They weren’t real reductions in rates. The 2003 rate reductions you had on cap gains and others — that gave you four years of strong economic growth that lasted until the Democrats won the House and Senate, and you knew those tax cuts were going away.”
— Norquist, in the same program
Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, has been in the news lately because Democrats charge (without much evidence) that he is single-handedly responsible for the collapse of the debt supercommittee because Republicans are afraid of violating his no-new-taxes pledge.
We don’t fact check political philosophies, but Norquist’s appearance on “Meet the Press” on Sunday gives us an opportunity to look at some of the facts that he uses to make his case. As can be seen from the excerpts of the interview above, Norquist is unabashedly partisan — in his view, economic growth literally ends the day Democrats win power in Congress. That already begins to stretch the bounds of economic logic, but what about some of his other assertions?
A key part of Norquist’s case is that government spending is always bad and that, despite repeated promises of cuts by Democrats, it always goes up. We take no position on his economic argument about spending, but the notion that spending has always gone up only makes sense if you look only at raw dollar spending — which does not make much sense at all.