A Conservative Columnist Tells Grover Norquist Why His Tax Pledge Is Harmful

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Ross Douthat debated the longtime anti-tax activist at a Washington, D.C., think tank


Grover Norquist is famous in Washington, D.C., for getting Republican candidates to pledge that they won't raise taxes, no matter what, if elected. His approach has drawn increased scrutiny lately due to America's ballooning deficit, the debate over raising the debt ceiling, and the fact that years of focusing on tax cuts has never succeeded in forcing legislators to cut spending -- instead the tax cuts have just forced more borrowing, effectively raising taxes on future generations.

In the video above, Ross Douthat, the New York Times columnist and Atlantic alum, explains to Norquist why his anti-tax pledge does harm to the GOP's ability to govern and sometimes its political fortunes. It is noteworthy that the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, decided to sponsor this debate. Afterward, Douthat gave Norquist credit for having the courage of his convictions:

Amid our current deficit woes he's been a consistent advocate for defense cuts and an Afghan pullout. In other words, he's actually willing to follow his vision of government closer to its logical conclusion than many people on both the right and left -- and I've been in our nation's capitol long enough to know that's no small thing. I don't agree with many of the choices Norquist would make.

But at least he's willing to make them.
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Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

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