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Super Committee Meltdown Thanks to "Gridlock Grover" Norquist

November 21, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This evening on news that the Super Committee failed to reach a compromise, Constitutional Accountability Center (CAC) issued the following statement laying blame for continued gridlock directly at the feet of tax lobbyist Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform and enforcer of a special-interest no-tax pledge.

“Today, the Norquist pledge prevailed over the United States Constitution and the business of ‘We the People.’ The silver lining is that during this process, an increasing number of Democrats and Republicans alike have run from Norquist and his pledge and declared that the Constitution comes first,” said Doug Kendall, president and founder of CAC. “‘Gridlock Grover’ Norquist has become the face of special interest obstruction in Washington, D.C. – provoking the ire of public officials of both parties and the American people. Norquist may have stamped out the promise of the Super Committee,” Kendall continued, “but he did so at an enormous cost.”

A new CAC video juxtoposing Norquist and the Constitution can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUZxEcDeY1Y.

Norquist claims to have more than 270 signers of his pledge in the 112th Congress. In September, CAC launched a campaign to pressure elected officials to put their oath to support the Constitution over Norquist’s pledge, and any other special interest pledge, with the support of U.S. Senator John Kerry in a letter to his colleagues in celebration of Constitution Day. Yesterday on Meet the Press, Senator Kerry eloquently emphasized the choice between a pledge to Grover Norquist and elected officials’ pledge to the Constitution. In its campaign, CAC gathered letters from more than 13,000 Americans and last week hand-delivered them to the offices of Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform. In the last two months, we have seen a line of elected officials from both parties put their oath to the Constitution over the Norquist pledge. For more information, see the list of resources and timeline in the Background provided below.

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BACKGROUND:

* Norquist pledge signer roster, 112th Congress

* April 24, 2011: GOP U.S. Senator Tom Coburn challenges Norquist on Meet the Press, “Which pledge is most important... the pledge to uphold your oath to the Constitution of the United States or a pledge from a special interest group who claims to speak for all American conservatives when, in fact, they really don't?” 

* August 15, 2011: Democratic U.S. Senator Richard Durbin on the Super Committee, “I am hoping some of these Republicans will realize their oath to the Constitution is more important than their oath to Grover Norquist." 

* September 12, 2011: Democratic U.S. Senator and Super Committee Member John Kerry sent a letter to all of his Senate colleagues – in advance of the formal launch of Constitutional Progressives – encouraging them to ignore special interest pledges and join him in reaffirming their constitutional oath of office

* September 14, 2011: Constitutional Accountability Center formally launches Constitutional Progressives: “Sen. Kerry, Numerous Progressive Organizations Support Effort to Stand Up for the Whole Constitution” 

* September 16, 2011: The co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Democratic U.S. Reps. Raúl Grijalva and Keith Ellison (along with eight other caucus members), asserted that their “solemn oath to support the Constitution trumps the demands of any interest group”

* September 19, 2011: President Barack Obama said, “Anybody who says we can’t change the tax code to correct that, anyone who has signed some pledge to protect every single tax loophole so long as they live, they should be called out…. They ought to have to answer for it. And if they’re pledged to keep that kind of unfairness in place, they should remember, the last time I checked the only pledge that really matters is the pledge we take to uphold the Constitution.” 

* September 19, 2011: “CAC Applauds President Obama's Pledge to Uphold the Constitution Above Special Interests,”

* September 21, 2011: Democratic U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter said, "Instead of fulfilling their pledge to uphold the Constitution, the Republican majority has worked to fulfill campaign pledges to Grover Norquist." 

* October 4, 2011: GOP U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf criticized Norquist's "no-tax pledge" and questioned whether "one person's demand for ideological purity is paralyzing Congress." Wolf also chronicled Norquist's strong-arm tactics in enforcing his pledge, laying out the pledge collector's effort to seek "retribution" for anyone who breaks his pledge and documenting Norquist's ties to "unsavory" individuals such as disgraced lobbyist and convicted felon Jack Abramoff. 

* October 6, 2011: Launch of www.grilockgrover.com: http://constitutionalprogressives.org/blog/13-tell-grover-norquist-to-knock-it-off

* October 22, 2011: CAC President Doug Kendall, “Blame Norquist, not Founders,” POLITICO 

* October 25, 2011: CAC President Doug Kendall, “For Super-Committee, It's ‘Gridlock Grover’ Norquist or the Constitution,” Huffington Post (front page) 

* November 3, 2011: GOP U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson said, “The only pledge I take anymore is to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. That's the pledge every member takes when he gets sworn in and that's the pledge you oughtta be concerned about.” 

* November 4, 2011: GOP U.S. Charlie Bass said, “So I have to make a choice if the committee comes up with a big deal, if you will, that includes revenue increases that may be in conflict with the Grover Norquist tax pledge. I would only point out that at the beginning of this year, I took a pledge to uphold the Constitution of the United States and defend America against enemies, both domestic and foreign. And I consider the debt crisis in this country to be a real threat to the future of America.” 

* November 15, 2011: Democratic U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews said [via Twitter], “@GroverNorquist wants us 2read fine print. I say - read the Constitution! lets uphold the national interest, not his agenda." 

* November 17, 2011: “More Than 13,000 Letters Delivered To "Gridlock Grover" Norquist; Pledge Signers Questioned About Current Support For Norquist’s Pledge,” 

* November 17, 2011: CAC President Doug Kendall, “Questions for ‘Gridlock Grover’ Norquist and His Shrinking Flock,” Huffington Post (front page)

* November 18, 2011: GOP U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy said, “I think we take an oath to the Constitution…. I don't think I've ever met Grover Norquist. I'm not wed to him.... I'm wed to the people of the 4th Congressional District and I'm wed to wanting to do what I think is right consistent with the Constitution, and if that means I come back, great. If it means I don't come back, that's fine too." 

* November 20, 2011: Democratic U.S. Senator John Kerry said, "And then I hear about this pledge – a pledge to a lobbyist, that gets in the way of our living up to that sacrifice and doing what’s right for our country. The fact is, I took a pledge. [Holds up right hand.] My pledge is to the Constitution of the United States, to defend it. My pledge is to well and faithfully execute my duties. And that does not include living up to a pledge to a lobbyist for a deficit reduction committee” 

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Constitutional Accountability Center (www.theusconstitution.org) is a think tank, public interest law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution's text and history.

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