Reagan Legacy Project

The Fist Behind the No-Tax Glove

Grover Norquist doesn't hold elective office, but wields huge sway over a group of Republican lawmakers who took his pledge to vote no on any tax increases.

Under the pressure of an approaching fiscal cliff and the wake of President Obama's re-election victory, some GOP members are wiggling away from their pledge to the president of the Americans for Tax Reform.

The Washington Post profiled Norquist last year, revealing he keeps the written pledges that lawmakers sign in a vault in Washington, DC. "When someone takes the pledge," Norquist told Jason Horowitz of The Washington Post, "you don't want it tampered with; you don't want it destroyed." That may or may not be a reflection on the caliber of politician he is dealing with.

The first pledge signers date back 25 years and include former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and supply-side economics advocate Jack Kemp, an early mentor to current House Budget Chair Paul Ryan.

Norquist hasn't been invited to White House negotiating sessions, yet he boldly predicts Republicans will hold the line against raising taxes. Or else, they may face a challenge from their political right in the next election, he adds. There are plenty of examples to show he isn't kidding or making an idle threat.

Of course, Norquist's adamant opposition to tax hikes isn't an end unto itself, though at times it seems like it. He is a fervent believer in smaller government. One of Norquist's most pungent lines is that he wants to see government shrink so he can "drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."