Grover Norquist, the anti-tax zealot, has become an ally in the fight to cut the military budget. He criticized the two day-old Romney/Ryan ticket yesterday, for the fact that they would increase defense spending:
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, his would-be vice president Paul Ryan, and defense hawks in Congress are wrong that savings can’t be found in the U.S. defense budget, according to Grover Norquist, the influential president of Americans for Tax Reform, who said that he will fight using any new revenues to keep military spending high.
“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,” Norquist said Monday at an event at the Center for the National Interest, formerly the Nixon Center [...]
“Other people need to lead the argument on how can conservatives lead a fight to have a serious national defense without wasting money,” Norquist said. “I wouldn’t ask Ryan to be the reformer of the defense establishment.”
Norquist is really condemning the Obama Administration as much as he does Ryan-Romney here. His fear is that increases in taxes will be used to stop the defense sequester from happening. This has been endorsed by Nancy Pelosi and Lindsey Graham at various points, and could end up being the final resolution, depending on who wins the election. Romney has called for a delay to the sequester cuts, I believe on the defense and non-defense sides, for a year, to give space for tax reform.
But this is what Norquist has argued against. He believes that the sequester ought to go through, and that the Pentagon will need to make do with less. That opinion is widely shared, at least on the principle that the country can make it spending slightly less than the rest of the world combined on the military, as opposed to more than the rest of the world combined. It’s just an inch below the leadership level, so the perspective rarely gets heard. But if Norquist goes hard with this opinion, you’re going to see a significant part of the tea party House agree with it. And I think liberals are already there with the idea that nominal tax increases should not just get shoveled into the gaping maw of the military.
Norquist sounded confident that the tax-writing committees would not agree to these military expenditures as a location for tax increases. In one respect, this whole speech is even better than it looks, because Norquist actually concedes some increases in revenues here in a roundabout way. But more to the point, it’s good news for those who want to see reductions in the military.