Liljenquist took Norquist’s lousy pledge

It’s generally considered professional to be polite when interviewing a politician, or anyone, but when Dan Liljenquist was here last week, I have to admit I got a bit testy with him at one point.

He said he’s signed Grover Norquist’s “no tax hike ever” pledge and I told him, “you know, as a taxpayer, I find that offensive.” I cited the need to raise taxes to meet unexpected expenses, such as wars.

He quickly did a two-step muttering something about how “its really a pledge to the taxpayers,” and said that “well, hurum, of course in time of war we would naturally do what we need to do.”

I didn’t press it — I was working on a news story, not  a fight, but it still steams me how many of these GOP candidates have pledged to an activist to essentially refuse to ever raise government revenues. It’s a pledge to blind ideological purity, not responsible governance.

It’s also a lie. Last time I checked, we ARE at war, in Afghanistan, pouring a trillion dollars  a year down a rathole that Republicans like to pretend doesn’t matter because the deficit is really just a matter of spending, not taxing. Where’s the War Bond drive? Where’s the war loan? Where’s the special War Tax?

Oh, right. Cutting taxes, that’s the way. That’ll raise revenues. Sure has worked well.

How many budgets did President George W. Bush propose that he swore would balance the budget? Almost all of them.

And how many worked? None of them.

So, needless to say, the GOP wants to keep doing the same thing. They seem to work on the “it’s gotta work sometime” theory.

Such a pledge — and its economic underpinnings – is nonsense. Anyone who claims to know how to run a business — Mr. L used to work for Bain Capitol, Mitt Romney’s old bunch — ought to know that revenue matters as much as spending on the balance sheet. To say otherwise is stupid, plain and simple. He builds a career figuring out how to make businesses make more money, then pledges to go into government and do the opposite.

Yeah yeah, I know: No tax hike has ever balanced government. Why? Because YOU IDIOTS IN GOVERNMENT KEEP SPENDING MORE!!!

Yes, you, the republicans too. Cripes, defense spending has doubled since the Iraq War started, DOUBLED and you guys cut taxes at the same time. Rob Bishop, our congressman from Top of Utah, took the pledge at the same time he was lobbying for increased government spending to save jobs for his constituents in Box Elder County at ATK Space Systems.

In that light it is nice to see stories like this one (click) where some in the GOP — brave souls, no doubt — are not taking Herr. Norquist’s pledge. At last, a little bit of real responsibility.

We need more. It’s a stupid pledge. It’s a bumper sticker. It’s saying costs never rise, but we all know they do, and revenues have to rise too.

Dan L said he took the pledge to “the taxpayers,” not Norquist.

Well, Dan, I’m a taxpayer. Cancel the pledge. Denouce it.

You want me to consider voting for you, work for responsible taxes, work for balanced government, but don’t hem yourself in making promises to some guy in Washington who I’ve never met, who doesn’t live in Utah, and doesn’t care about Utah anyway.

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34 Responses to Liljenquist took Norquist’s lousy pledge

  1. PolishandProud says:

    Absolutely on the mark. Good for you!

  2. Cassie Silvester says:

    I don’t see it the way you do, raising taxes and gov spending is the problem. Dan has my support on this pledge because not only does it make raising taxes harder, it shows how committed he is to solutions. It is not a popular solution, which you verified with this article, and Dan is willing to be unpopular, as long as it is the solution. I stand with Dan !

  3. Cari Jennings says:

    Real patriots. “I love my country but not enough to pay for it.”

  4. Cari Jennings says:

    Real patriots. “I love my country but not enough to pay for it.” (I have to add these words because of a funny error message: Duplicate comment detected; it looks as though you’ve already said that!)

  5. rls says:

    …. there IS a solution — vote democratic …

  6. Adam Gale says:

    It is obvious you have an agenda to smear Dan. Dan commits to not raising taxes, and you blast him for it. I’m going to have to presume you are indeed a Progressive because raising taxes kills small businesses.

    It’s time to cut the deficit, it’s time to cut spending. As a family man, I make a budget every month, if it looks like I’m going to go over budget for any reason, I cut my spending, and forego certain items. Our government needs to do the same thing, it needs to forego spending on ridiculous things like Planned Parenthood. We need to stop funding NPR as it only pushes a Communist agenda anyway.

    • Beth says:

      Adam Gale,

      NPR doesn’t push agendas. It informs and sometimes educates. Calling other people Communists for trying to be reasonable is unreasonable.

    • Joseph Kerman says:

      NPR as propagating communism. You’re ignorance regarding political thought is obvious. Communism?

    • Michael Trujillo says:

      I’m surprised that when you’re “going to go over budget for any reason” you only look at one side of your ledger. You could also do things to increase your income like get a second job, get a higher paying job, ask your current employer for a raise and, if one doesn’t happen, take your services elsewhere.

      Really, you don’t have to give up “certain items” if you quit sitting around on Saturdays and get a second job. The government can do likewise in ways to increase revenue.

      Just a thought for those who keep using the “household budget” as an example of how to balance the budget coming from a guy who has two jobs and enjoys having the extra income.

      • Paul Greeler says:

        SOme people have a family and actually like to be around them.
        They work enough to make things work, and maybe to enjoy a little extra.
        When the budget doesn’t allow for that extra, they have to cut spending.
        Getting another job is difficult in this economy, would take jobs from people without a job, and takes the working father out of the home for even more house a week.
        Yes, sometimes it has to be done, but just so a man can enjoy “a little extra money”? At the cost of his family?
        Some people aren’t willing to make that sacrifice.

        The Government, on the other hand, wants to provide those extras. Greece is a prime example.
        If the Government cannot afford those extras, it has several choices… borrow and spend, rise taxes and spend, or cut the extras.

        If we spend money today to benefit people today and have no regard for the future, we will end up like Greece.
        If we raise taxes, people are disincentivized, the input doesn’t equal the output, and we can actually hurt economic growth.
        Or, we can tell people they must take responsibility for some aspect of their lives, and NOT provide the extras.
        It really is that simple.

        The government and the economy seems to grow best when the tax revenue hits about 17-18% of the GDP. The government should learn to stay within its means.
        Borrowing and deficit spending are “short term” fixes. Shortsightedness causes abuse of these short term solutions. We then end up in the shape we are in today.

        Just imagine where we would be today if we didn’t spend so much of our People’s money on an interest payment of a borrowed 16TRILLION dollars. What if we had planned better, spent less, and actually had a budget? Would that make things better?
        How about if we had a surplus, instead of a deficit?

        Even if the Government has an “income problem”, would you make up that difference by taxing only some Americans?
        Are there people that are more American than others?
        Are there people that are more equal than others?
        Shouldn’t all Americans bear the burden of supporting the Government equally? Either by equal % taxing or equal $ taxing?

        I don’t see how Norquist’s pledge is a problem.
        The Government has a problem. Norquist’s pledge forces the Government to deal with that problem, instead of looking to the people to provide a temporary and harmful solution.

        Isn’t it time the Government deals with the root cause of the problem, not the symptoms?

        • Michael Trujillo says:

          Which proves my point. A country is not a head of household. Running a country is not the same as running a household. Therefore, the tired old analogy equating a household budget with the U.S. budget doesn’t work. Thanks for helping to validate what I said.

          Now, please, everyone quit saying “As a family man, I make a budget yah-dah-yah-dah-yah.”


          • Brent Glines says:

            Nonsense. This is just a way to evade the argument, kick the pieces over, and declare victory, and it’s bullshit. It is not a valid argument. The government cannot continue spending money it doesn’t have.

          • Decider says:

            “The government continued to spend money it didn’t have” for 6/7 years in fighting two UNFUNDED wars and taxcuts during the Bush II debacle, without EVER a Glines’ epithet of protest on these boards — That’s BS . . . sure enough!

          • Michael Trujillo says:

            “The government cannot continue spending money it doesn’t have.”
            Which is why, Owain, it’s stupid to use the household budget as a comparison to the National budget. If you can’t keep up, take notes, dim wit.

          • Paul Greeler says:

            Actually, the analogy holds true.

            In a household budget we have income and expenses.
            In a government budget we have revenue and expenses.

            In both cases, we can only spend what we have, unless we get some kind of credit line.
            Credit, as we all know from ANY money savvy economist, is a short term solution. Those that get rich understand interest. Those that borrow do not understand interest.

            In my family budget, I have children’s allowances.
            In the Government budget, we have entitlement programs.
            Both budgets contain healthcare, travel expenses, overhead and operating costs.

            They are identical in every way but in size, number of dollars required.

            If I am smart, in either case, I spend less than I take in, set some savings aside for a rainy day, and have no debt.
            If I am not so smart, I cut things a little close, maybe have some deficit spending, maybe a little debt.
            If I am a complete moron, I max out credit lines, spend most of my money on interest payments (without paying down the principle) and continue to find new ways to spend more than my income allows.

            The government, in this case, is the moron.

            Think about it. Just like in my household budget, if I have an emergency, but I have some savings or an emergency fund, or even a line of credit that is not currently used, then I have a few options to pay for that emergency.
            However, if I have an emergency, and I am maxed out on credit, have a huge deficit, and no money. what can I do?
            In the former case, if that “emergency state” goes on for more time, I have options to raise the income or revenue to replace any borrowed money or depleted savings.
            In the later case, I have no options, interest payment is due, no money to fall back on, and a bad situation gets worse.

            The problem here is, you don’t want the analogy to work, so you declare it flawed.
            The truth is, the analogy works.

          • Michael Trujillo says:

            Paul Greeler – You, yourself, said it doesn’t work. In a family budget, a family has the ability to earn more money. Just because you feel you can’t allow yourself the luxury of working a second or third job because you “have a family” or because you’re too lazy or particular to get one doesn’t change the fact that you could, if you needed to, increase your income. Unless the U.S. begins a policy of going out and taking additional resources from other countries, it can’t do any more to increase its income other than taxes and tariffs, etc.
            Also, you have control over the size of your “household”; you decide how many children to have and, at a certain point, those children grow up and move out, thereby changing your expense column. This Nation continues to grow, replacing deceased “family members” with new ones continuously. Again, this is not how a “family budget” evolves over time.
            Yes, we have to look at both columns, but you only WANT the analogy to work because you can only imagine a family budget. Don’t tell me what I’m thinking.
            I’m sorry you don’t feel your kids are important enough that you’d go out and get a second job to help pay their expenses. You’d rather tell them they can’t go to band camp or have to eat PB&J sandwiches. What would you do if there wasn’t free public education available? What happened to the American work ethic? Oh, yeah. It was replaced by adults who want to stay home playing video games and watching American Idol.
            Good day.

          • Paul Greeler says:

            Michael Trujillo said:

            “You, yourself, said it doesn’t work.”

            That is your assessment only.

            While the analogy of the home budget and government budget isn’t perfect, it works.

            You have ignored several key items.

            “In a family budget, a family has the ability to earn more money.”

            “it can’t do any more to increase its income other than taxes and tariffs, etc.”

            “Also, you have control over the size of your “household”; you decide how many children to have and, at a certain point, those children grow up and move out, thereby changing your expense column.”

            These things all fit nicely together, and they prove my point.
            Let me illustrate:
            The government has proven, over time, that the necessary revenue is right around 18% of the GDP. That includes growth.
            If the population is 1 or 1 billion, the government needs 18% of the GDP to operate.

            The immigration policy can be changed to allow more people in.
            People come, people go. Babies born, people die. Business marches on, technology grows, etc.
            We can control so vary many factors to prevent companies from leaving our country, to enticing foreign companies to do business here.

            Yes, this is a lot different that the home solution, but it isn’t any different if you break it down to “income/revenue” and “expenses”.

            The more people we have, the more are working, the more are earning, the more taxes are paid, the more businesses we have, the more taxes paid, that 18% continues to get larger as the GDP continues to get larger.

            “I’m sorry you don’t feel your kids are important enough that you’d go out and get a second job to help pay their expenses.”

            I have adequate education and employment, thank you. I planned ahead. I watched my budget for years. I didn’t waste my money on interest. I have a surplus, not a deficit.
            Seems our country could learn a lot from me, and the millions of people just like me.

            The point here is: the government CAN adjust both sides. Immigration, business rules and regulations, more business friendly tax code, etc, etc, etc.
            Because you want it to be more complicated doesn’t mean it is more complicated.
            The government must learn to live within its means. Just because it feels it CAN provide for my individual retirement, doesn’t mean it SHOULD. how does that affect the Budget? Does it include deficit spending? And for how long? Does it include borrowing? When can the debt be paid?

            It is that simple. Instead, we are spending money hundreds of years into the future, enslaving our future generations to debt.
            Why? So people, today, can enjoy having a “little extra”? Do we think so little of our future generations?

            Fiscal responsibility is a powerful tool for the individual, the corporation, and the government.

            “What would you do if there wasn’t free public education available? What happened to the American work ethic? Oh, yeah. It was replaced by adults who want to stay home playing video games and watching American Idol.”

            No, it was replaced when the Government started taking responsibility for the individual lives of its citizens.

            “Good day”

            Yes, it is.

    • J. Hartwell says:

      Mr. Gale,
      I’m curious exactly which NPR program pushes the Communist agenda? I guess Click and Clack, The Tappet Brothers on Car Talk are using subliminal suggestions to turn us all into pinkos when they talk about cars and car repair?

      Federal funding amounts to just 2-6% of NPR’s total revenues. I’m sure you were not aware of this as you obviously follow the Glen Beck line. (Much easier than thinking isn’t it)?

      Get a grip.

  7. Luke Dalton says:

    A vote for Scott Howell will be a vote for Senatorial sensibility.

  8. Gordon Jones says:

    Grover Norquist’s pledge is much more sophisticated than you give him credit for. When candidates sign it (and I’m proud of Dan for doing so), they pledge that they will not raise the overall burden of taxes on us. If taxes are increased, as they would be through the elimination of corporate carve-outs in various tax regimes, the overall individual tax rates must be lowered to balance. Grover opposes the corporate welfare of “green” energy credits, limits on corporate liability, favorable tax treatment of municipal bonds, and all the other distortions in the tax code with which politicians buy votes. If these were eliminated, the total tax take would go up. All the Pledge says is that when that happens, tax rates elsewhere have to go down, to keep the Leviathan from swallowing the economy.

    Grover Norquist’s organization is called Americans for Tax Reform for a reason. The only “reform” Liberals want is higher taxes. The Pledge stands between them and us, and I’ grateful for it.


    • Decider says:

      Jones argues that he finds “sophistication” in the Nordquist pledge — a pledge that reduces the integrated functions of complex economic interrelations to a simple minded panacea that replaces political problem solving.

      Sophistication? You can sprinkle powdered sugar on manuer, but that still doesn’t make it a jelly doughnut!

  9. laytonian says:

    Thank you, Charlie.

    It’s actually humorous to read comments like “Leviathan” when taxes are at a 50-year low!

    We don’t have a spending problem. We have an income problem. Like Michael Trujillo wisely points out, the government should be doing things to increase their income. That’s fees and taxes, which could be raised and still provide a low tax rate.

    It’s also humorous to read these folks complaining about taxes, when its likely that none of them are in the 1% profiting from the rest of society.

    I would also suggest that Liljenthal listen to himself and take elocution lessons. That high-pitched girly-voice is that of a wimp. A Norquist sound-alike. What’s with those two?

  10. ctrentelman says:

    the problem, mr geeler, is that you left one variable out of your equation: Revenue to the government.

    Yes, you mentioned it, but you left out where the government intentionally reduced its revenue WHILE increasing expenses. Any homeowner who did that would also be a moron, and the government did that under the behest of the very same people now decrying the budget deficit and claiming that it is not a matter of revenue, just spending.

    Take us back to the tax rates of the Clinton years, cut devense spending back to the clinton years, stop the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, yemen, Syria (yes we are) and others, watch that deficit disappear.

    • Michael Trujillo says:

      Charley, I didn’t see your more eloquent response to Greeler before I launched my more impatient one. You made the point much better than I did. Thanks.

    • Paul Greeler says:

      Which only makes the point that the government and household budgets are more similar than not.

      I make $X and I have to budget X-Y.
      The government receives $W and should have to budget W-Y.

      Historically, $W is about 18% of the GDP.
      If they REDUCE that number, they must also reduce Y.

      Otherwise, I have no problem with them maintaining 18% of the GDP as their revenue. But if they decide to start new spending, and must raise $W by ++A, then I have issues with that, and that is really all the Norquist pledge is saying.

  11. Decider says:

    Greeler Says that The household budget/ Federal budget analogy is TRUE.

    Analogies are NEVER true — analogies are comparisons between two separate entities that identify points of similarity. ALL analogies begin to BREAKDOWN because the two entities fundamentally are NOT THE SAME THING. Analogies are powerfully persuasive forces to the weak minded and gullible who, without knowledge or facts, are always anxious to magnify a few specious similarities into a comprehensive world view.

    If the Greeler household budget is just like the Federal budget, then I want to report to the FBI that Greeler is making his OWN money and seeking to pay his OWN debts with it.

    • Paul Greeler says:

      Actually, Decider, I said it “holds true”.
      If you don’t know the way it is used, maybe a reading comprehension class would help? I’m sure there are some places that would gladly work with you on that…

      “holds true” = To be valid, applicable, or true

      In this case, I pointed out how the analogies are valid or applicable.

      Oh, also see “analogy” = an agreement or correspondence in particular features between things otherwise dissimilar; in literature, the basis for metaphor and simile.

      All you have done here is shown the weakness of your argument. You don’t have a position that can be proven or sustained, so instead, you attack your opponent with a variety of thinking errors.
      Look up “logical fallacy” = a clearly defined error in reasoning used to support or refute an argument, excluding simple unintended mistakes.
      Specifically “ad-hominem” = A fallacious objection to an argument or factual claim by appealing to a characteristic or belief of the person making the argument or claim, rather than by addressing the substance of the argument or producing evidence against the claim; an attempt to argue against an opponent’s idea by discrediting the opponent himself.
      “straw man” = when a person simply ignores a person’s actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of that position.
      and “red herring” = a fallacy in which an irrelevant topic is presented in order to divert attention from the original issue.

      • Decider says:

        Decider posted: “Greeler says the household budget/federal budget analogy is TRUE.”

        Greeler responded: Actually, Decider, I said it “holds true”.
        Then Greeler reprimands Decider’s ‘reading comprehension’ with . . . “hold true” = To be valid, applicable or true.
        (True?) — Yeah, your true = my TRUE!

        Reading comprehension is NOT the problem here. Greeler’s nonsensical response is an argumentive falsehood called, ‘Making a distinction where there is NO difference’. Anyway, his whole nonsensical argument is just an excuse to offer up an ad homenim ‘reading comprehension’ insult he hopes will distract.

        Additionally, Greeler equates the terms valid, applicable and true, as being equivalences (see =) –even a first year logic student would know the vast difference between VALID and TRUE; let alone the absurdities of “hold true” and “applicable”.

        Time to stop making it up as you go along, and stop pretending you know something about logic and truth.

        Greeler imagines a world where he can unashamedly present a confused mess of misunderstood terminology and ignorance as TRUTH without anyone calling him on it.

        • Decider says:

          If I were to make an analogy between men and apes to make an argument about apes being equal to men; I could find many, many, many similarities to strengthen my analogy — possibly UNLIMITED similarities, limited only by my cleverness and ingenuity.

          However, the strength of the analogy can be improved numerically only up to a certain point. The numerical strength of the analogy is defeated soundly by considering just a few of the crucial FUNDAMEMTAL differences between the two, and how those alone can wreck the whole original thesis.

          Some textbooks write about ‘False Analogy’ without explaining what a ‘True Analogy’ would be — Analogy is an Inductive reasoning process that cannot lay claim to TRUTH, but at best, can offer what is strong or weak, or that which is more or less probable.

          In my mind, analogy is a more an effective rhetorical device than a logical one.

        • Paul Greeler says:

          I’m sorry you are having such a hard time with what I wrote.
          A word can have several meanings, yet, when taken into context will usually only have one.
          In this case, “valid” or “applicable”, 2 of the meanings of the phrase “holds true” as I used it, would be the correct meaning.
          Your desire to try to make what I wrote mean something else notwithstanding.

          The analogy is valid.
          The analogy is applicable.

          Did that help?

          • Decider says:

            Greeler Posts:
            ‘A word can have several meanings, yet, when taken into context, will usually only have one.’

            It was Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty who was first to profess this same absurdity.

            “When I use a word”, Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — no more no less.”
            “The question is, said Alice, whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

            If I had any power to ‘make what you wrote mean something else’, I would FIRST have to make it mean SOMETHING — an easier job would be nailing jello to concrete.

            “Notwithstanding” hand me a blowtorch . . . .

  12. jimmy5804 says:

    The toxic effect of the Norquist pledge is easily illustrated without resorting to any complicated economics. The problem is that 1) it eliminates ANY notion of compromise around taxes and 2) we have two parties in this country, and will continue to have two parties for the forseeable future. That’s a recipe for inaction in a time of great need.

    And it’s not a theoretical problem at all. It played out for us in the budget debate. In the supercommittee negotiations of the debt ceiling, democratic legislators reportedly offered a 6-to-1 cuts-to-spending ratio. This was rejected by the Republicans because they had signed the stupid pledge (several Republican representatives have gone on record to say they’d reject a 10-1 cuts-to-taxes ratio). They even wanted a further reduction of the top tax rate which is already historically low. In effect, the Republicans were offered the choice : accept a 6:1 cuts:taxes ratio or proceed with a $450B hollowing out of the military, and they chose the latter. In what way is the hollowing out of the military better than a 6:1 cuts:taxes ratio?

    Please note : it is COMPLETELY irrelevant which side was in the right. The only thing that matters here is that there are two parties with enough clout to block the other, and that it is likely to remain that way for a long time. As long as we have this kind of disfunctional decision making, we’re not going to get better. And the primary driver of the no-compromise approach is Mr. Norquist’s pledge and the morons who signed it.

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