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Grover Norquist

Grover NorquistAKA Grover Glenn Norquist

Born: 19-Oct-1956
Birthplace: Sharon, PA

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Activist, Columnist
Party Affiliation: Republican

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Washington lobbyist, anti-tax crusader

Former Republican golden boy Grover Norquist is the genius who coerced George H.W. Bush into making the disastrous "Read My Lips: No New Taxes" pledge back in 1988. Relentlessly committed to slashing the size of government in half within 25 years, Norquist until recently wielded substantial influence over GOP fiscal policy. Close friends Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove relied heavily on him for ideas to reduce the federal budget. (Not bad for a guy who's never held elected office.) But that all changed after September 11th.

The son of a city tax assessor, young Grover read the classic work Masters of Deceit by J. Edgar Hoover at age eleven, which instilled a lifelong hatred of Communism. Somehow or other, along the way he also managed to become a major Janis Joplin fan, calling her oeuvre "the high point of Western civilization." He keeps a poster of her in his office, along with a bunch of South Park crap.

Over the years, Norquist became increasingly conservative, and eventually decided that the most troubling problem facing America is the gargantuan size of its government. Quite rightly, he decided the most effective way to reduce the size of government would be to cut off its sources of revenue (aka taxes). And he resolved to launch a permanent tax revolt. So in 1986 Norquist founded the organization Americans for Tax Reform, which is categorically opposed to any increase in taxation and lobbies Congress hard for an endless series of tax cuts -- at least one per year.

Of course, cutting the size of the government in half is going to take some belt-tightening. According to New York Times columnist Paul Krugman:

In Norquist's vision, America a couple of decades from now will be a place in which elderly people make up a disproportionate share of the poor, as they did before Social Security. It will also be a country in which even middle-class elderly Americans are, in many cases, unable to afford expensive medical procedures or prescription drugs and in which poor Americans generally go without even basic health care. And it may well be a place in which only those who can afford expensive private schools can give their children a decent education.

Nevertheless, Grover brings a messianic zeal to the cause. During an interview on the National Public Radio show Fresh Air, Norquist claimed that the estate tax is just as immoral as genocide, because both target only a minority of the population:

NORQUIST: That's the morality of the Holocaust. "Well, it's only a small percentage," you know. "I mean, it's not you, it's somebody else." [...]
TERRY GROSS: Excuse me. Excuse me one second. Did you just --
TERRY GROSS: -- compare the estate tax with the Holocaust?
NORQUIST: No, the morality that says it's OK to do something to do a group because they're a small percentage of the population is the morality that says that the Holocaust is OK because they didn't target everybody, just a small percentage. What are you worried about? It's not you. It's not you. It's them. And arguing that it's OK to loot some group because it's them, or kill some group because it's them and because it's a small number, that has no place in a democratic society that treats people equally. [...]
TERRY GROSS: So you see taxes as being the way they are now terrible discrimination against the wealthy comparable to the kind of discrimination of, say, the Holocaust?
NORQUIST: Well, what you pick -- you can use different rhetoric or different points for different purposes, and I would argue that those who say, 'Don't let this bother you; I'm only doing it' -- I, the government. The government is only doing it to a small percentage of the population. That is very wrong. And it's immoral. They should treat everybody the same. They shouldn't be shooting anyone, and they shouldn't be taking half of anybody's income or wealth when they die.

Lately, Grover Norquist no longer garners the same respect out of Washington that he used to. Not for that insane Holocaust metaphor, but because of a lobbying firm he founded a few years back. The Islamic Institute had been working to promote policies which would help Arab causes. But then two passenger jets slammed into the World Trade Center, and suddenly nobody in the government could even pretend to care anymore about what the Arabs want.

Incidentally, Grover's main hobby since the mid-'90s seems to have been the lionization of former President Ronald Reagan. Years before Reagan's death, Norquist started championing things like replacing the portrait of Alexander Hamilton with Reagan's on the $10 bill, or at least shoving Franklin D. Roosevelt off the dime. These are not idle notions. In 1997 Norquist launched the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, a group whose purpose is to convince the government to spend millions of taxpayer dollars (ironically) on things like a Ronald Reagan memorial monument in Washington, DC.

After Reagan finally died in 2004, Norquist kicked it into overdrive. In a June 2004 appearance on CNN's Inside Politics, Grover told host Judy Woodruff: "Alexander Hamilton has been on the $10 since 1928, he's been well honored by the country, he was a great secretary of the treasury. But of all the people on the currency, the only one who isn't a President." Which kind of hurt his credibility, because you'd think that Norquist would be aware that Benjamin Franklin -- whose face is on the $100 bill -- was never President. That's the kind of assertion you'd maybe want to doublecheck before going on national television. And it's not like it would require a team of researchers.

Father: Warren Norquist (Vice President, Polaroid)
Mother: Carol Norquist (city tax assessor)
Wife: Samah Alrayyes (m. 2-Apr-2005)

    High School: Weston High School, Weston, MA
    University: BA Economics, Harvard University (1978)
    University: MBA, Harvard Business School (1981)

    The American Spectator Columnist
    Microsoft Washington lobbyist
    US Chamber of Commerce Economist, speechwriter (1983-84)
    African American Republican Leadership Council Advisory Panel
    American Conservative Union Board of Directors
    American Enterprise Institute Columnist for the AEI Newsletter
    American Society of Competitiveness President
    Americans for Tax Reform President and Founder
    America's Future Foundation Executive Council
    Bush-Cheney '04
    Citizens for America
    College Republicans Executive Director
    The Constitution Project Liberty and Security Initiative
    Council for National Policy
    Council on Foreign Relations
    GOProud Advisory Council
    The Heritage Foundation Helped draft the 1994 "Contract with America"
    Islamic Institute President and Founder
    Leadership Institute Faculty
    National Coalition to End Judicial Filibusters
    National Rifle Association Life Member, sits on the Board of Directors
    National Taxpayers Union Executive Director (1981-83)
    Nevada Policy Research Institute Board of Advisors
    Nixon Center Board of Directors
    Ryan for Congress
    TheVanguard.Org Board of Advisors
    The Harvard Crimson
    Abramoff Scandal
    Evolution Skeptics
    Visited Burning Man 2014
    Swiss Ancestry

    13th (30-Sep-2016) · Himself
    We're Not Broke (22-Jan-2012) · Himself
    Reagan (23-Jan-2011) · Himself

Author of books:
Rock the House
Leave Us Alone: Getting the Government's Hands Off Our Money, Our Guns, Our Lives

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