Grover Norquist has been one of the most vocal figures against politicians raising taxes, and, for the president of Americans for Tax Reform, even former presidents aren’t above criticism.
Norquist called out former president George H.W. Bush on Sunday during an appearance on ABC’sThis Week, saying the president lied to the American people when he raised taxes.
“When George Herbert Walker Bush ran for president, he promised the American people he wouldn’t raise their taxes,” Norquist said. “He lied to them. He broke his commitment to them and they threw him out of office four years later.”
In 1988, Bush gained notoriety for saying, “Read my lips — no new taxes,” a catchphrase that led him to victory in the election but would later help seal his fate as a one-term president when he did indeed raise taxes during his term.
Norquist has gained incredible power among Republican representatives for his Taxpayer Protection Pledge in which they vow not to raise taxes. Though Norquist has long seen criticism from Democrats for the rigidity of the pledge and the way it handicaps efforts to reduce the deficit, it has been generally accepted by many Republicans with a total of 539 incumbent lawmakers signing the pledge.
But now a growing number of GOP members are speaking out against the pledge, The Huffington Post noted, including George H.W. Bush. In an interview in Parade magazine, the former president called out the pledge as being too strict and added a dig at Grover Norquist himself.
“The rigidity of those pledges is something I don’t like,” Bush said in the interview. “The circumstances change and you can’t be wedded to some formula by Grover Norquist. It’s – who the hell is Grover Norquist, anyway?”
The pledge itself has lost steam, with an analysis by The Huffington Post finding that just 45 of 83 of the Republican National Congressional Committee’s current crop of “Young Guns” this election season are signed on.
Appearing on This Week, Grover Norquist also responded to comments from former Florida Governor Jeb Bush against the pledge. Jeb Bush said, “I don’t believe you outsource your principles and convictions to people.”
“Something that both Jeb Bush should have been a little bit aware of, and his father, that commitment that most Republicans who run for office make is to the American people and to the people of their state,” Grover Norquist responded. “And Jeb Bush decided not to promise the people of Florida that he wouldn’t raise taxes, but he had a fairly good Republican legislature, so he never had a tax increase while he was governor.”