grover norquist

Grover Norquist's Latest Crusade: Crushing Michigan's Unions

Washington lobbyist Grover Norquist, the head of the powerful "Americans for Tax Reform" group, likes to portray himself as simply an anti-tax activist.

But his activism often simply centers around cementing corporate power. For example, his organization has gone to bat to prevent Americans from getting cheaper prescription drugs after it received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the industry, something he failed to explain to me in a video interview earlier this year.

In Michigan, Norquist's latest crusade is to pass a "Right To Work" (for less) law that would weaken unions in the state. In an interview with The Detroit News, Norquist said that "In addition to an economic imperative, it is a moral one," that the state pass this new anti-union law.

Under so-called "right to work" legislation, workers are allowed to have a free ride and get union benefits without being required to pay dues. This results in weaker unions, which results in far less generous pay, conditions, and benefits for workers. As one example, occupational-fatality rate in the construction industry is 34 percent higher in so-called "right to work" states than those that respect the rights of unions.

We'll keep you updated on the fight to protect labor rights in Michigan. Use the form above or below to sign up to our e-mail list to stay involved.

 

Lindsey Graham Threw Grover Norquist Under The Bus To Cut Medicare, Social Security Benefits

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) made headlines yesterday when he publicly rebuked lobbyist Grover Norquist, saying that he was willing to violate his pledge against increasing any taxes. (Graham actually broke with Norquist's pledge back in June.)

What the news coverage of Graham's remarks missed was why this staunchly right-wing senator was breaking Norquists pledge.

For months, Graham has been working with a group of senators who want to implement the Bowles-Simpson plan to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits and lower corporate tax rates. This plan does end some tax deductions and loopholes, which is why Norquist opposes it, and, by extension, Graham.

Like Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) before him, Graham thinks it's more important to gut our social insurance programs than it is to uphold Norquists's pledge. That is not cause for celebration among progressives.

In fact, Graham is asking for cuts in Medicare benefits that are even more severe than what Bowles-Simpson proposed. Here's what he said on ABC's This Week:

GRAHAM: It goes to 66, 67 here pretty soon for Social Security. Let it float up another year or so over the next 30 years, adjust Medicare from 65 to 67 over the next 30 years, means test benefits for people in our income level. I don’t expect Democrats to go for premium support or a voucher plan, but I do expect them to adjust these entitlement programs before they bankrupt the country and run out of money themselves.

Watch it:

Graham explicitly said on the show that he is only willing to violate the Norquist pledge if Democrats agree to "entitlement reform" -- code for cutting benefits. "I think Grover is wrong," he said. "When you are $16 trillion in debt the only pledge we should be making to each other is to avoid becoming ...

Saxby Chambliss Is Breaking With Grover Norquist To Make It Easier To Cut Social Security

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)

There has been much fanfare about Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss's (GA) break from Washington Lobbyist Grover Norquist. On a local television station, Chambliss spoke of breaking with Norquist's pledge to never raise taxes under any situation, saying, "I care too much about my country. I care a lot more about it than I do Grover Norquist."

Many progressives have been celebrating Chambliss's rebuke of Norquist. While Norquist is indeed a powerful lobbyist who should not have so much influence over the Republican Party, progressives should not be fooled by Chambliss's rhetoric. The senator is not breaking from Norquist because he wants to raise taxes on the wealthy or big corporations. Rather, he's doing it because it will make it easier to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits.

Here's why. For more than a year, Chambliss has been involved with a group of senators who support the Bowles-Simpson plan to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits while lowering the corporate tax rate. This Bowles-Simpson plan closes a few token tax loopholes, and also reduces the popular mortgage interest deduction. Norquist is opposed to closing even the tiny loopholes that the Bowles-Simpson plan closes, so he staunchly opposes the plan altogether -- which also means opposing Chambliss.

Chambliss is willing to deal with closing small loopholes in the tax code in order to get to the wider goals of the Bowles-Simpson plan: cutting Social Security benefits by raising the retirement age, cutting Medicare benefits by capping overall spending, and dramatically lowering corporate tax rates.

The Senator is likely trying to curry favor with Democrats in order to pass such a plan. Publicly denouncing Norquist is one way to do that. Some in the press have suggested that his feud with Norquist ...

BREAKING: Grover Norquist Spends $162,000 To Attack Elizabeth Warren

Disclosures released today from the Federal Election Commission show that Grover Norquists's Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) just dropped $162,418.26 on direct mail pieces to attack bold progressive Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren. Here's a screengrab from the disclosure:

When Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) pledges not to raise taxes on the wealthy, ATR is the reason why. It is a powerful lobby that is funded largely by corporations and billionaires.

When the right corporations pay off Norquist, he'll even violate his own supposed free market conservative principles. Earlier this year, I confronted him about why ATR opposes letting Americans buy cheaper drugs from Canada -- a free market idea. When I mentioned that his organization has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from Big Pharma, he struggled to maintain his composure. Then, when my colleague and I asked him why he lobbied for Fannie Mae in the past even though he attacks it now, he quit the interview altogether.

Norquist is a powerful lobbyist and his organization is seeking to sink Warren because she's dedicated to holding corporate America accountable. Help defend Warren from Norquists's attack, click here to chip in a few dollars to her campaign.

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