Grover Norquist, the high priest of Republican tax-cutting, may not be as prominent as he was in the 1990s, but he is the reason that Joe Biden can’t afford to lose a single senator or more than a handful of House members without losing his entire economic agenda.
Norquist, who once said his goal is to starve the government down to the size “where we can drown it in the bathtub,” has been remarkably successful at shaping a political environment that makes it hard to even talk about, let alone succeed in, raising taxes. He’s in a tight corner now, but it would be dangerous to write him off as old news.
When President George H.W. Bush lost his re-election in 1992 after breaking his promise to not raise taxes, Norquist called it “a teaching moment.” Since then, he has held the sword of Damocles over politicians by having them sign an anti-tax pledge. In no small part because of that pledge, it’s unlikely a single Republican will support President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan which he would pay for by raising taxes on families with incomes over $400,000 and by increasing the corporate tax rate to 28 percent after President Trump slashed it from 35 to 21 percent.