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NEW YORK – House Speaker John Boehner will not give in to President Obama’s demand for another tax hike to avoid the sequester, predicts noted tax expert Grover Norquist.
“Boehner is not going to cave,” Norquist told WND in an interview.
“The Republicans in Congress are very comfortable saying the sequester should take effect unless the Democratic Senate and the Democratic president agree to spending cuts of similar size and certainty to the House,” he said.
If Congress does nothing before Friday, $1.2 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade will automatically kick in. Of the $85 billion to be cut between March 1 through September, half will come from the Pentagon.
WND spoke with Norquist after Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., told Fox News that if Boehner agreed to tax increases to avoid the sequester, he would lose his speakership.
“I don’t quite honestly believe that Speaker Boehner would be speaker if that happens,” Johnson said on Monday’s broadcast of Fox News’ “Special Report.”
WND checked with Norquist to see if Johnson might have been alluding to a deal brewing between House Republicans and the White House that had not yet been made public.
“I don’t think so,” said Norquist, president and founder of Americans for Tax Reform. “Boehner has been waiting for this opportunity to get spending restraint. This time, Boehner is holding the cards, not Obama, in that the spending cuts are automatic unless there is a deal, and the Republicans in Congress see no reason to make a deal that involves increasing taxes.”
Norquist believes the Republicans in Congress finally turned the tables to place the Democrats on the defensive over fiscal issues.
“President Obama is spending no time trying to govern,” Norquist said. “He is just trying to posture, trying to make sure the public perceives that if something goes wrong, it’s not his fault.”
Presently, Norquist is confident no revenue negotiations are going on between the White House and House Republicans.
“We are now at the point where Boehner can tell the White House that if Obama has any new ideas, the Senate should just go ahead and pass a new measure,” he said. “Obama knows what the Republicans in Congress can live with. What Obama is going to do is continue campaigning, not work creatively to find any new compromises.”
Norquist believes the leverage on the continuing fiscal crisis has swung to the Republicans.
“Up until January 1 this year, the Democrats had a $500-billion tax increase, and all we could ask for was something less, which we got,” he argued.
“That was lose-lose. But now it works the other way. Now there’s nothing Obama can do to stop a spending cut. We were climbing uphill, now we’re going downhill.”
Norquist believes the Republicans in Congress have staked out a good negotiating strategy.
“They had all the cards; now we have all the cards,” he explained. “If the Republicans sit on their hands, we get $1.2 trillion in spending cuts, and the Republicans have agreed they’re not going to settle for anything less.”
Norquist believes congressional Republicans in the next four years will pass a series of very limited, perhaps even month-to-month, increases in the debt ceiling as a strategy to keep the White House on a short leash, while pushing for additional spending cuts.
He is confident Democrats will continue pressing to increase taxes to retain or increase spending while Republicans try to contain spending and reduce taxes wherever possible.
“What you are seeing now is the next four years,” Norquist said.