By Patrick B. McGuigan | CapitolBeatOK
OKLAHOMA CITY — In a series of speeches and meetings here, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform pressed distinctions between the “Leave Us Alone Coalition” (his “team,” with center-right public policy views) and the “Takings Coalition” (the left-liberal-progressive “team”).
Leader of the national organization best known for pushing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge from his offices in Washington, D.C., Norquist is optimistic about Republican prospects to nip federal government spending in the next four years, GOP chances in the next round of U.S. Senate elections, and a good deal more.
Despite defeat of the Republican presidential nominee in 2012 and the GOP’s failure to take control of the U.S. Senate, Norquist told a dinner meeting — co-sponsored by his Americans for Tax Reform and Americans for Propserity-OK — that he is encouraged about prospects that the same center-right coalition will steadily press Congress to “stop feeding the other team” through federal spending.
Norquist was particularly upbeat assessing prospects for limiting government in Oklahoma, one of 25 states in which Republicans now control both the executive branch and the Legislature. He contends the two major parties are now rationally aligned, both in Oklahoma and nationwide, with Democrats in “the takings coalition” and Republicans in the “leave us alone” group.
The veteran anti-tax activist said the looming federal sequester – major automatic budget cuts triggered this spring unless new legislation displaces laws passed last summer – puts House Republicans in a strong negotiating position with the re-elected President Barack Obama.
“The guys on the left know what is going to happen,” Norquist said. “The coming months will be very instructive.”
Although major budget cuts are not possible until the Senate becomes Republican and Obama leaves office, the fact that more than 80 percent of the so-called “Bush tax cuts” are now permanent puts the president in a difficult position, Norquist concludes.
In addition to his dinner speech, Norquist had a breakfast session with legislative leaders and met with members of Gov. Mary Fallin’s staff. He also spoke to the Oklahoma Center-Right Coalition and school-choice advocates at a Capitol luncheon.
Norquist contends that political conditions now allow congressional Republicans (assuming they stand firm) to insist on incremental spending reductions in return for any debt ceiling extensions, passage of continuing resolutions or limits on sequestration. He asserts congressional Republicans can now make the case for a realistic plan to “save the country, economically, over several decades” – in contrast to the Obama programs that would bankrupt the country within two decades.
He contends that if Senate Democrats finally pass a budget resolution, which they have not done in several years, the contrast with the Ryan approach will benefit Republicans in Congress. That, in turn, will boost Republican hopes to seize control of the U.S. Senate in 2014.
Contact the author at Patrick@capitolbeatok.com and follow us on Twitter: @capitolbeatok.