In giving its “blessing” to Speaker John Boehner’s “Plan B” fiscal-cliff bill, Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform released the following statement about raising tax rates on income in excess of $1 million:
The House this week will vote on a tax bill. This legislation—popularly known as “Plan B”—permanently prevents a tax increase on families making less than $1 million per year. …
In particular, in this Congress the House has already voted twice to prevent any tax increases on any American. When viewed with this in mind, and considering this tax bill contains no tax increases of any kind—in fact, it permanently prevents them—matters become more clear.
To recap: the bill “contains no tax increases of any kind”—except for the one implicitly mentioned in the paragraph above. But since the House really, really tried hard not to do this, “matters become more clear.” By the logic of this statement, we are free to set the threshold for tax increases anywhere we like — at $500,000, say, or $250,000 — pocket our distaste for doing so, and declare confidently that we’ve “permanently prevented” tax increases on income below that threshold.
This is not an enviable moment for Norquist; I don’t mean to poke fun too harshly. But it looks awfully clear to me that the guy is trying desperately to obscure the fact that he just got rolled. The choice was either to oppose the bill, as groups like Club for Growth and Heritage Action have, and then watch helplessly as the House approves it anyway. Or play ball and hope no one noticed that the fundamental reason for your existence just flew south for the winter.