Norquist: Republicans having ‘impure thoughts’ on taxes
Grover Norquist on Monday found a new way of dismissing the handful of Republican lawmakers — including the House majority leader — who are now publicly wavering about his pledge they signed not ever to raise taxes.
Norquist, the anti-tax crusader who urges every new lawmaker to sign the pledge, joked on CNN’s “Starting Point” that “we’ve got some people discussing impure thoughts on national television.”
But he insisted that the vast majority of Republicans will pay them no mind.
“They all said this two years ago, when we were arguing over the debt ceiling limit,” Norquist said in the interview.
“We cut spending. We didn’t raise taxes. So other Republicans did not listen.”
Norquist’s position as the chief enforcer of the Republican Party’s no-tax stance is under fire in Washington as President Barack Obama pressures Republicans in Congress to reach a compromise that increases taxes on wealthy Americans.
Not wanting to be boxed in by Norquist’s pledge, some key lawmakers are saying that they might be willing to raise taxes — in certain circumstances.
The latest to express some doubt about the pledge is Rep. Eric Cantor, the majority leader in the House and a staunch, anti-tax crusader himself.
In an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program Monday, Cantor repeated his insistence that Republicans in the House “weren’t elected to raise taxes.”
But he also downplayed the pledge as something that wouldn’t necessarily bind his caucus in the House.
“A lot has been said about this pledge, and I will tell you when I go to the constituents that re-elected me, it is not about that pledge; it really is about trying to solve problems,” Cantor said.
—Michael D. Shear, The New York Times
Euro finance ministers confront a standoff over Greece
BRUSSELS — Finance ministers from the euro area met Monday for the third week in a row to try and bridge differences over bailouts for Greece that have bitterly divided creditor nations like Germany and the International Monetary Fund.
The haggling continues against the background of a financial catastrophe unfolding in Greece, where the economy has shrunk by about one-fifth in three years and unemployment is hovering at around 25 percent.
The unrelenting gloom means suffering for the Greek public and also makes it increasingly improbable that the country can pay back its debts in full.
Ministers said ahead of the meeting that they had made strides toward reaching a joint position during a teleconference Saturday.
“All the parameters of the solution are on the table,” the French finance minister, Pierre Moscovici, said on arriving at the meeting. “We are facing our responsibilities.”
But diplomats in Brussels said they expected the meeting to be long and stormy and run late into the night — as did a similar gathering last week — as the parties try to find alternative ways of giving Greece relief in light of opposition by major creditors like Germany and the Netherlands to forgiving some Greek debt.
To reach a deal, the IMF may also have to compromise, loosening its budgetary expectations for Greece and accepting that the country will not be able to hit a target of reducing debt to 120 percent of gross domestic product by the end of the decade. For Greece, the immediate goal is unlocking an installment of loans worth 31.5 billion euros (more than $40 billion) from an international bailout program.
—James Kanter, The New York Times