In Defense of Grover Norquist and the No-Tax Pledge

Danny de Gracia answers Rep. Frank Wolf (R, VA-10)’s attack on Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform

by Danny de Gracia II

“Because of what we do our standards must be higher than those of society at large. The American public expects it of us and properly so.”

–General Ronald Fogleman, US Air Force Chief of Staff 1994-1997

“We must always remember that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another.” –Edward R. Murrow

Yesterday on the U.S. House Floor, Representative Frank Wolf (R, VA-10) delivered a demagogue-like invective against Americans For Tax Reform president Grover Norquist in which he railed against the No-Tax Pledge’s “ideological purity” and went on to insert into the record a written statement which accused Norquist of having “deep ties to supporters of Hamas and other terrorist organizations of the United States and our ally Israel.” Wolf’s wild rant event went on to include Norquist’s opposition to the USA PATRIOT Act and efforts to repeal it as supposed examples of the ATR president’s sinister influences and evil agenda to undermine America. “I believe the evidence is clear,” Wolf says, “that Grover Norquist is connected with a number of unsavory people and groups out of the mainstream.”

So, in other words, Wolf would have us believe: if you think that taxes should never be raised and you believe in upholding the Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the United States of America, you are terrorist sympathizer.

What we are witnessing with words like those spoken by Rep. Wolf is the rise of a cult-like worship of the state. Anyone who obstructs or frustrates the desires of the state or its elected representatives is typecast either as a discredited lunatic or an enemy of the state. This type of attitude is certainly opposite with any notion of limited government, defense of freedom or any other pro-America buzzwords that individuals such as Rep. Wolf claim to represent.

The question we have to ask is why is demanding no new taxes such a bad thing? I believe in self-ownership, which means I own my body and I own whatever fruits the labor of my body and mind produce. Anyone who believes in self-ownership will see all taxation as theft, therefore more taxation means more theft under the authority of “government.” I do not believe in a “Fair Tax” because there is nothing fair about a government that can put me in prison for not surrendering money that belongs to me. What Rep. Wolf fails to recognize is that the more he and his colleagues plan on my behalf, the less room I have to plan for my future. That is why I support the ATR No-Tax Pledge and believe absolutely that raising taxes or creating new taxes under all circumstances should be detested. Cut the budget, cut spending, but don’t make new taxes.

I am reminded of what Ludwig von Mises wrote: “Perhaps they think they will exercise power for the general good, but that is what all those with power have believed. Power is evil in itself, regardless of who exercises it.”

If political pressure for raising taxes or creating new taxes is morally objectionable, my recommendation to legislators such as Rep. Wolf and others is simply to resign and become private citizens again. America demands a higher level of service and adherence to principle from those who would hold elected power. After all, Rep. Wolf in his own words said, “Conservatives of all people should not be locked into any ideological position … Conservatism is not an ideology; it’s not doctrine or dogma. It is a way of seeing life.” Upholding the Constitution of the United States and representing people who want no new taxes would clearly be locking into an ideological position and is obviously too much to ask.


Danny de Gracia is the economic policy adviser for Grassroot Institute and is an elected member of the WaipahuNeighborhood Board. He holds a master of arts in political science from Southwest Texas State University. Contact him by e-mail at degracia@fas.harvard.edu.

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