No, South Carolina, Norquist Says, There is no Pink Unicorn

Photograph by Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Founder of Americans for Tax Reform Grover Norquist during a debate at American Enterprise Institute.

For all the talk that “Grover is over” in Washington lately, the only thing the author of the famous anti-tax pledge is all over, it appears, is radio and television.

Grover Norquist, who still will count a majority of the Republican-run House as signers of the Americans for Tax Reform pledge to avert tax increases without equivalent spending cuts when the next Congress convenes in January, has been talking a lot lately about the “pink unicorn” — that spending cut significant enough to free his pledge-signers from their vows.

He’s talking about it on National Public Radio this morning, and he’ll be talking about it, for sure, at the Politico-sponsored breakfast which he will headline in the capital today.

The ranks of lawmakers who have signed Norquist’s pledge have declined, while still a majority in the Republican-run House. In the 113th Congress that will convene in January, 219 of the 435 House members have signed the pledge, according to Americans for Tax Reform. In the new Senate, 39 of the 100 senators are signers.

The 112th Congress, which will finish its business by year’s end and which hopes to confront the fiscal cliff of automatic spending cuts and baked-in tax increases by then, includes 238 House signers of the pledge and 41 in the Senate. Meanwhile, some pledge-signers, including Chambliss, Corker, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Representative Peter Kingof New York, all Republicans, say they aren’t bound by it any more.

Norquist, who really isn’t worried about the Senate so much as the House holding his line, suggests that Graham and company will never see the spending cuts needed to set them free from his pledge.

“You’re talking about a hypothetical, and this is where someone like Lindsey Graham, Republican from South Carolina, got himself wrapped around the axle,” Norquist says in an interview airing today on NPR’s “Morning Edition.”

Graham’s “anti-tax pledge — he made a commitment to the people of South Carolina,” Norquist says in the radio interview. “But, he has made it very clear — and we’ve had a long conversation about this, because I was trying to figure out what he was talking about — he imagines that the Democrats will agree to fundamental reform of entitlements, something they haven’t done in, oh, I don’t know, 60 years.”

“But we imagine that they’re going to,” he says. “We imagine a pink unicorn.”

“If you had a pink unicorn, how many dollars in taxes would you raise to trade for the pink unicorn? ” he asks. “Since pink unicorns do not exist in the real world, it has never occurred to me to worry about the senator from South Carolina. He’s not going to vote for a deal, because the kind of 10-to-one ratio deal he’s talking about with real ironclad spending cuts is never going to happen.”


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