Norquist didn't stipulate what would constitute "de minimis" taxes. But he argued that Republicans could get the better end of any bargain, without detonating the ticking austerity bomb, by publicly defining their terms, and contrasting them with Obama's call for raising tax rates on top earners. If that bargain included 'de minimis' new taxes, Norquist suggested, it could pass muster with the voters to whom Republicans elected officials have pledged not to raise taxes.
However, Norquist also suggested that voting for legislation to passively allow the Bush tax cuts for high earners to expire wouldn't satisfy the pledge. Norquist criticized conservative Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), who has encouraged House Republicans to accept President Obama's terms, extend middle income tax rates, and continue the fight over tax cuts for the top two percent down the road.
"It's an interesting tactic or strategy," Norquist said. "By doing that, then, all he did is have a conversation about other ways to raise taxes."