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Grover Norquist
The Republican leader
The ultimate Republican goal is to starve government, and the new fiscal deal helps accomplish that. By making permanent some of the tax cuts that he had previously promised to let expire, while getting only a temporary extension of some benefits, President Barack Obama is limiting revenue sources with a much worse fiscal showdown looming in just two months. Short term benefit gains will be a pittance compared to the long term cuts to come.

In case anyone is wondering how the Republicans will justify allowing even the very high end tax rates to rise, all you have to know is that Grover Norquist himself has given them permission.

“So if Republican Senator ‘X’ votes in favor of the agreement tonight, he or she is not violating the pledge?” Blitzer pressed.

“No. The Republicans have voted in the past to make the tax cuts permanent, all the Republicans, all the pledge takers—” Norquist said.

“So you’re giving your blessing to the Republicans, to Harry Reid, not only the Democrats, to Mitch McConnell and all the Republicans, go ahead and support the deal?” Blitzer said.

“Not having read it all, I’m not endorsing it. But right now, as explained, it doesn’t violate the pledge,” Norquist said. “We need to go back and at the end of the day make sure that the tax cuts are made permanent for everybody, but that’s a fight for the weeks and months to come. This is progress, making 84 percent of the Bush tax cuts permanent.”

“If you were a Senator, you’d vote for it?” Blitzer asked.

“Yes,” Norquist said.

Some are taking comfort in Paul Krugman's writing that the deal is not that bad, as is. But the deal is not as is, and Krugman's final paragraph is the key:
So why the bad taste in progressives’ mouths? It has less to do with where Obama ended up than with how he got there. He kept drawing lines in the sand, then erasing them and retreating to a new position. And his evident desire to have a deal before hitting the essentially innocuous fiscal cliff bodes very badly for the confrontation looming in a few weeks over the debt ceiling.

If Obama stands his ground in that confrontation, this deal won’t look bad in retrospect. If he doesn’t, yesterday will be seen as the day he began throwing away his presidency and the hopes of everyone who supported him.

When has Obama stood his ground, on economic policy? Letting the tax cuts expire last time? The budget showdown? The debt ceiling crisis? Those today taking comfort in Krugman's words had best pay attention to that last paragraph.

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