Is Grover Norquist and his tax pledge finally running out of steam? Should there be a minimum tax for the wealthy? These questions answered in today's must-read opinion pages.
IS GROVER FINALLY OVER?
NEW YORK TIMES
…Over recent years the party lost much of its credibility in this discussion, by dint of the lavish spending and escalating debt under George W. Bush and because of a sophomoric, gimmicky purity that’s incarnate in Norquist, who has done his party real damage. …There’s no place for absolutists and absolutism in a democracy, which is designed for give-and-take, for compromise. …I hope that Republicans and Democrats alike will keep those principles in mind as we approach the so-called fiscal cliff. Norquist certainly hasn’t, but then he bears no responsibility for governing and is concerned less with voters and their welfare than with those of us in the news media, who have been too quick to summon him, rewarding his staged and reliable vividness.
EGYPT’S POWER STRUGGLE
If Mr. Morsi is not the Islamic Lenin of his opponents’ imagining, neither is he or his party leading the country toward the full democracy they have promised. … With a badly needed International Monetary Fund loan pending along with a bilateral debt- forgiveness deal, the Obama administration has considerable leverage over the Morsi government. President Obama spoke to Mr. Morsi several times during last week’s Gaza crisis, which ended with a cease-fire that the United States sought and Egypt helped to broker. Now Mr. Obama must make clear that Egypt’s relations with the United States depend not only on such strategic cooperation but also on the creation of a political system that meets basic tests of democracy and respect for human rights.
POLITICS WITH A PURPOSE
The union would be well served today by herding all 535 of its legislators into a darkened theater for a screening of “Lincoln.” The issues they face — from public debt to immigration — are less momentous than slavery but momentous enough for discomfort. They might take away a greater appreciation for flexibility and compromise. They should also note that the dramatic culmination of the movie is a roll call — a list of forgotten legislators whose hesitant, conflicted choices were as important as the outcome of battle. Their shared profession may lack in dignity but not in consequence.
REPUBLICANS AND THE TAX PLEDGE
WALL STREET JOURNAL
Mr. Norquist’s tax pledge has been one of the few restraints over the years against those bad Beltway appetites. Democrats demonize Grover because they know this. They want to pit Mr. Norquist against other Republicans precisely so they can dispirit the tea party grass-roots and take away the tax issue as a GOP advantage. Republican voters know that elections have consequences and that Mitt Romney’s defeat means there will be policy defeats too. But they will give the House and Senate GOP credit if it fights for its principles and drives a hard bargain. The voters are also smart enough to know that Republicans who focus on Mr. Norquist are part of the problem.
A MINIMUM TAX FOR THE WEALTHY
THE NEW YORK TIMES
I support President Obama’s proposal to eliminate the Bush tax cuts for high-income taxpayers. However, I prefer a cutoff point somewhat above $250,000 – maybe $500,000 or so. Additionally, we need Congress, right now, to enact a minimum tax on high incomes. I would suggest 30 percent of taxable income between $1 million and $10 million, and 35 percent on amounts above that. A plain and simple rule like that will block the efforts of lobbyists, lawyers and contribution-hungry legislators to keep the ultrarich paying rates well below those incurred by people with income just a tiny fraction of ours.