Grover Norquist is a bit of a punching bag for both the Hollywood-DC left and the neoconservative right. On the left, he’s often held up as an example of everything that’s supposedly wrong with the conservative movement and the GOP: his “no tax hike” pledge is excoriated by the Huffingtonpost-MSNBC-TPM axis of Obamaism as typical of “know-nothing” conservatism. On the neocon right, he’s viciously attacked as an “Islamist,” a secret member of the Muslim Brotherhood far more dangerous than, say, Huma Abedin — in part because he’s an influential conservative married to an Arab woman. For both groups, he’s a bit of a Rasputin, with his weekly meetings of Washington-based conservative activists characterized as something between the right-wing equivalent of the Bilderbergs (or is that Bilderbergers?) and Opus Dei.
Now he’s gone and done something bound to induce paroxysms of rage — or disbelief — in members of both groups: he’s denouncing the newly-minted Republican ticket — particularly Paul Ryan and his infamous budget — for refusing to countenance cuts in the military, and he’s doing it in style. In a talk given at the Center for the National Interest (formerly the Nixon Center), he ripped into Ryan for refusing to consider cuts in the military budget.
First, some background: The Budget Control Act, passed in 2011, calls for “sequestration,” i.e. across-the-board cuts in both military and domestic spending in order to (eventually, in theory) balance the federal budget. The usual suspects have been decrying this, especially Republican hawks like Lindsey Graham and the powerful Buck McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, who want to increase military spending. Their solution? Close “tax loopholes” and end deductions to avoid sequestration. To our Washington grandees, any income they allow you to keep for yourself is a “loophole,” since they own you, body and soul — and they will close it if the alternative is giving up another war in the Middle East.
Norquist throws down the gauntlet at these spendthrift imperialists: “We can afford to have an adequate national defense which keeps us free and safe and keeps everybody afraid to throw a punch at us, as long as we don’t make some of the decisions that previous administrations have, which is to over extend ourselves overseas and think we can run foreign governments.” Washington can’t give marching orders to its own citizens with much effect, he averred, so why do we think we can do it in faraway Afghanistan?
He takes aim squarely at the Ryan budget, which has been adopted by the House GOP and is now at the center of the presidential campaign, characterizing it as typical of the Graham-McKeon spend-spend-spend mentality, which is an echo of the Bush years. Ryan’s proposed budget would increase military spending by $20 billion and is bereft of cost-cutting reforms. As Norquist put it: