A simple yes or no would have sufficed, but when House Speaker John Boehner was asked whether anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist was a positive influence on his caucus, he feigned ignorance.
“It’s not often I’m asked about some random person in America,” he said.
The context here is that Republicans are gridlocking the deficit Super Committee because they’ve pledged publicly never to raise taxes — a pledge Democrats say they’ll have to break to get bipartisan support for cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.If the Super Committee fails, and Congress can’t pass significant deficit reduction measures by the end of 2013, it’ll trigger an enforcement mechanism, cutting $1.2 billion across the board, mostly to Medicare provider payments and defense programs. In this context, 40 members of the House GOP caucus signaled that they’d be amenable to tax increases paired with cuts to entitlement programs.
Boehner’s deer-in-headlights moment may be a sign that the pressure to cut Norquist loose is getting to him. But, he’s not relenting — at least not publicly.
“Our conference is opposed to tax hikes, because we believe that tax hikes will hurt our economy and put Americans out of work,” Boehner said.