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Read my lips: Sign my tax pledge or...
Conscience of a Conservatarian ^ | November 8, 2007 | Josh Painter

Posted on 11/09/2007 7:27:33 AM PST by Josh Painter

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, has launched an attack on GOP presidential candidate Fred Thompson for Thompson's refusal to sign Norquist's pledge against raising taxes. Team Fred spokeswoman Karen Hanretty explained her candidate's position in an e-mail:

Fred Thompson’s record of cutting taxes and pushing for reform speaks for itself. This is the approach he will take as president. He is bound by that principle and does not make a practice of signing pledges.
That answer was not good enough for Grover the Security Pushover (more on that further down the column), who told Ronald Kessler of Newsmax:

The fact that he refuses to say he won’t raise taxes and in fact all but shouts he wants to walk into a room and raise taxes to fix entitlements means that on taxes, he is the worst Republican running.
The worst Republican running, on taxes? Norquist should have at least checked out Thompson's record on taxes before making a total fool out of himself. Had he bothered to read the tax-minimalist Club for Growth's white paper on Fred Thompson, for example, he would have learned that:

Over his eight years in the Senate, Fred Thompson generally supported broad-based tax cuts while opposing tax increases. These include:

Voted for the 2001 Bush tax cuts, repeal of the Death Tax, capital gains tax cuts. to require a supermajority to pass tax hikes, to reduce the amount of Social Security benefits subject to taxation and against waiving the Budget Act to allow for a cigarette tax hike.

Thompson was a forceful proponent of tax reform, lambasting the IRS as “mismanaged” and “wasteful,” and a strong supporter of the flat tax. In fact, Thompson was the only senator to vote to table an amendment proposed by Senator Dorgan that took the flat tax off the table during a budget debate. “The problem with the Dorgan amendment is simple,” Thompson declared in a press release the following day, “it puts you on record against a flat tax. I think a flat tax is one of the options that should be considered as part of the debate on comprehensive tax reform.”

Or Norquist could have consulted with the libertarian CATO Institute's Michael Tanner, who wrote in American Spectator:

During his eight years in the Senate, Thompson had a solid record as a fiscal conservative. The National Taxpayers Union gives him the third highest marks of any candidate (trailing only Reps. Ron Paul and Rep. Tom Tancredo). He generally shared McCain’s opposition to pork barrel spending and earmarks, and voted against the 2002 farm bill. He voted for the Bush tax cuts and has generally been solid in support of tax reduction. He has consistently supported entitlement reform, voting to means-test Medicare and supporting personal accounts for Social Security.
BTW, The National Taxpayers Union that Tanner references voted Fred Thompson the winner of its presidential straw poll back in June:

Every attendee of our Conference was given a chance to vote for any of the declared Presidential candidates, Republican or Democrat. After counting the votes, we can announce partial results.

Fred Thompson was the winner with 25.7% of the vote. Ron Paul came in second place with 16.7%. Rudy Giuliani placed third with 12.5% Mitt Romney garnered 9.0% of the vote to snag fourth place. The top five was rounded out by John McCain, who received 5.6%

Had he taken the trouble, Norquist could have investigated how Fred Thompson was rated by other interest groups concerned with budget, spending and tax-related issues:

Fred Thompson supported the interests of the Americans for Tax Reform: 90 percent in 2001, 90 percent in 2000, 85 percent in 1999 and 70 percent in 1998.

Thompson supported the interests of the National Tax Limitation Committee: 97 percent in 1999-2000, 89 percent in 1997-1998 and 97 percent in 1995-1996.

Thompson supported the interests of the National Taxpayers Union: 84 percent in 2001, 80 percent in 1999, 70 percent in 1998 and 78 percent in 1997.

On that same website, Sen. Thompson's individual votes on fiscal issues are plainly displayed for Norquist and everyone else to see.

On a similar website, a more intellectually curious Norquist could have read some key Fred Thompson tax quotes...

“The US tax code is broken and a burden on US taxpayers and businesses, large & small. Today’s tax code is particularly hostile to savings & investment, and it shows. To make matters worse, its complexity is a drag on our productivity and economic growth. Moreover, taxpayers spend billions of dollars & untold hours each year filling out complicated tax returns, just so they can send more money to Washington, much of it for wasteful programs & the pet projects of special interests. We need lower taxes, & we need to let taxpayers keep more of their hard-earned dollars—they know best where & how to spend them. And we need to make the system simpler & fairer for all. To ensure America’s long term prosperity & economic security, I am committed to: - Fundamental tax reform built on the principles of simplicity, fairness, and growth - A new tax code that gets the government out of our citizens’ pocketbooks, while enhancing US competitiveness abroad - Dissolution of the IRS as we know it.” - Fred Thompson Source: Campaign website,, “Issues” Sep 20, 2007

“We have a tax code that’s hopelessly out of date and out of step for our times now, punishes the things that we say that we want more of and makes us less competitive in the world.” - Fred Thompson Source: Fox News “Hannity & Colmes” interview Jun 6, 2007

While serving in the US Senate, Fred Thompson was a consistent proponent for lower taxes and a more simplified tax system. He hasn’t changed his mind. Thompson says, “We need to reject taxes that punish rather than reward success. Those who say they want a “more progressive” tax system should be asked one question: Are you really interested in tax rates that benefit the economy and raise revenue—or are you interested in redistributing income for political reasons?” Source: The Fred Factor, by Steve Gill, p.166-169 Jun 3, 2007

“Taxes are necessary. But they don’t make the country any better off. At best they simply move money from the private sector to the government. But taxes are also a burden on production, because they discourage people from investing & taking risks. Some economists have calculated that today each additional $1 collected by the government, by raising income-tax rates, makes the private sector as much as $2 worse off. To me this means one simple thing: tax rates should be as low as possible.” - Fred Thomspon Source: Speech to Lincoln Club Annual Dinner, Orange County CA May 4, 2007

“There is reason to smile this tax season. The results of the experiment that began when Congress passed a series of tax-rate cuts in 2001 & 2003 are in. Supporters of those cuts said they would stimulate the economy. Opponents predicted ever-increasing budget deficits and national bankruptcy unless tax rates were increased, especially on the wealthy. In fact, Treasury statistics show that tax revenues have soared and the budget deficit has been shrinking faster than even the optimists projected. Since the first tax cuts were passed, when I was in the Senate, the budget deficit has been cut in half.

Critics claimed that across-the-board tax cuts were some sort of gift to the rich but, on the contrary, the wealthy are paying a greater percentage of the national bill than ever before. The richest 1% of Americans now pays 35% of all income taxes. The top 10% pay more taxes than the bottom 60%. Because of lower rates, money is being invested in our economy instead of being sheltered from the taxman.” - Fred Thompson Source: Fred Thompson editorial in The Wall Street Journal Apr 14, 2007

...and votes:

Voted NO on reducing marriage penalty instead of cutting top tax rates. Vote to expand the standard deduction and 15% income tax bracket for couples. The elimination of the “marriage penalty” tax would be offset by reducing the marginal tax rate reductions for the top two rate bracket Reference: Bill HR 1836 ; vote number 2001-112 on May 17, 2001

Voted NO on increasing tax deductions for college tuition. Vote to increase the tax deduction for college tuition costs from $5,000 to $12,000 and increase the tax credit on student loan interest from $500 to $1,000. The expense would be offset by limiting the cut in the top estate tax rate to 53%. Reference: Bill HR 1836 ; vote number 2001-114 on May 17, 2001

Voted YES on eliminating the ‘marriage penalty’. Vote on a bill that would reduce taxes on married couples by increasing their standard deduction to twice that of single taxpayers and raise the income limits on both the 15 percent and 28 percent tax brackets for married couples to twice that of singles Reference: Bill HR.4810 ; vote number 2000-215 on Jul 18, 2000

Voted YES on across-the-board spending cut. The Nickles (R-OK) Amdendment would express the sense of the Senate that Congress should adopt an across-the-board cut in all discretionary funding, to prevent the plundering of the Social Security Trust Fund Status: Amdt. Agreed to Y)54; N)46 Reference: Nickles Amdt #1889; Bill S. 1650 ; vote number 1999-313 on Oct 6, 1999

Voted YES on requiring super-majority for raising taxes. Senator Kyl (R-AZ) offered an amendment to the 1999 budget resolution to express the sense of the Senate on support for a Constitutional amendment requiring a supermajority to pass tax increases. Status: Amdt Agreed to Y)50; N)48; NV)2 Reference: Kyl Amdt #2221; Bill S Con Res 86 ; vote number 1998-71 on Apr 2, 1998

Fred Thompson Strongly Opposes topic 11: Repeal tax cuts on wealthy

Finally, a Grover Norquist who was honestly interested enough to learn Fred Thompson's thinking on taxes could have read some of Fred's writing on the subject here, here and here.

But no, Grover Norquist is not interested in Fred Thompson's actual philosophy and record on taxes. He's only interested in his self-aggrandizing tax pledge.

Meanwhile, Norquist has some issues of his own which put him at odds with most conservatives and other patriots in this country.

Instead of attacking Fred Thompson on taxes, one of the former Senator's strongest issues, Norquist should be explaining his relationship with his strange bedfellows, many of whom want to see the United States of America brought down in a bloody jihad.

Besides, pledges against raising taxes are no guarantee that they will not be increased, as we all learned from the case of a one-term former president who once said something about reading lips. Bush 41 and Ronald Reagan both learned the hard way that sometimes, faced with an uncooperative congress, a president's stated principles may get compromised to achieve his larger goals. In Reagan's case it was spending the Soviets into the collapse of their empire. In the case of the elder Bush, it was done in the name of deficit reduction and to head off a recession. Fred Thompson, taking to heart Santayana's advice to learn from history, is not likely to push for further campaign finace reform, although he is still dismayed by the corruptness of a politician taking big money from donors and then passing legislation favorable to those same donors. And, despite his refusal to sign Norquist's ultimatum, neither is he likely to raise taxes as president. Perhaps Thompson is also taking to heart a lesser-known piece of advice from Santayana: "Our an omen of our destiny, and the more integrity we have and keep, the simpler and nobler that destiny is likely to be."

TOPICS: Editorial; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: 2008; atr; election; elections; fredthompson; gop; grovernorquist; nomination; norquist; stopislamization; taxes; wot
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Fredipedia: the definitive Fred Thompson Quick Reference
1 posted on 11/09/2007 7:27:34 AM PST by Josh Painter
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To: Josh Painter
Fiscally fisking the 2008 contenders

As a strong fiscal conservative, I’ve long awaited a comprehensive analysis that sizes up the ‘08 field on both taxes AND spending. Thanks to the National Taxpayers Union, we now have some idea of where the candidates on both sides of the aisle stand on economic growth and size-and-scope of government issues. NTU has released a nifty scorecard that ranks all of the presidential contenders with legislative records on these issues, meaning that, unfortunately, we don’t get to see where candidates with only executive experience fit into the overall snapshot. Still, the results are enlightening, and in some cases, a bit surprising.

Each year, NTU assigns a grade to each Member of Congress w/r/t his or her votes on legislation related to taxes, debt, regulation, and spending. The NTU looks both at the percentage of the time the legislator voted for the taxpayer, and at the importance of each of those votes, weighing each vote accordingly. This prevents, for example, a congresscritter voting in favor of several small tax credits but against a huge tax cut from earning a higher score than a legislator who did the opposite, thus presenting a more accurate picture of where the candidates stand on fiscal issues than would a raw vote count. According to NTU, here are the ‘08 candidates’ most recent grades:

NTU Congressional Rating (most recent legislative year)

John McCain: A (88%)
Ron Paul: A (84%)
Sam Brownback: A (84%)
Newt Gingrich: A (79%)
Tom Tancredo: A (76%)
Fred Thompson: A (73%)
Chuck Hagel: B+ (82%)
Duncan Hunter: B (62%)
Bill Richardson: F (33%)
John Edwards: F (22%)
Dennis Kucinich: F (22%)
Hillary Clinton: F (17%)
Barack Obama: F (16%)
Joe Biden: F (11%)
Chris Dodd: F (10%)

Two things. First, this explains why Duncan Hunter isn’t gaining any traction; his record on fiscal issues is that of something other than a conservative. Secondly, Bill Richardson appears to be the most fiscally conservative Democrat in the field, though that’s not saying much. In order to avoid making inferences based on what may be an anomalous year on the part of some candidates, let’s now take a look at the percentage of legislative years during which each candidate received an “A” grade from the NTU:

Percent of “A” Grades

Ron Paul: 100%
Tom Tancredo: 100%
Fred Thompson: 88%
John McCain: 67%
Newt Gingrich: 57%
Sam Brownback: 50%
Chuck Hagel: 30%
Duncan Hunter: 6%
All Democrats: 0%

McCain is likely hurt by his opposition to the Bush tax cuts earlier in the decade. Thompson, interestingly, received an A from the NTU almost every year he was in the Senate, bested only by Ron Paul and Tom Tancredo. And, finally, NTU has determined just how much of your money each of these candidates would like to spend. By parsing the legislative agenda of each of the ‘08 candidates, and by subtracting the amount each candidate’s agenda would cut government from the amount each agenda would increase the cost of government, NTU has revealed just which of our ‘08 candidates truly are committed to small government. The results are a bit surprising:

Net cost of legislative agenda for most recent legislative year

Bill Richardson: -$1.6 billion
Fred Thompson: $3.1 billion
Newt Gingrich: $4.5 billion
Barack Obama: $11.7 billion
Tom Tancredo: $13.7 billion
Duncan Hunter: $15.8 billion
Sam Brownback: $19 billion
Ron Paul: $34 billion
John McCain: $36.9 billion
Chuck Hagel: $86.7 billion
Joe Biden: $90 billion
John Edwards: $103.5 billion
Chris Dodd: $224 billion
Hillary Clinton: $378.2 billion
Dennis Kucinich: $1.87 trillion

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson’s legislative agenda would actually have led to net cuts in government. If Bill Richardson were the prototypical Democrat, I would likely have to rethink my party affiliation. And if anyone is the heir to Bill Clinton in the Democratic field, it’s Barack Obama, with his tax-and-don’t-spend policies, which are very similar to the former president’s agenda, and which is far more Clintonian than Ms. Rodham’s tax-and-spend liberalism. In fact, Hillary’s attempts to grow government dwarf those of every Republican and most Democrats in the field, proving Dick Morris right when he postulated that Hillary would be our first European-style socialist president.

On the Republican side, Fred Thompson’s record on spending puts the rest of the field to shame, and is even more conservative than that of Newt Gingrich. Perhaps Thompson’s supposed lack of accomplishments in the Senate are the result of a legislator who erred on the side of ensuring that government didn’t grow, didn’t spend more, didn’t meddle more in people’s lives, and generally left Americans alone. In an age of two big-governnment parties, it isn’t surprising that such a candidate is garnering interest.

2 posted on 11/09/2007 7:53:38 AM PST by kevkrom (“Should government be doing this? And if so, then at what level of government?” - FDT)
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To: kevkrom

That article needs its own thread.

3 posted on 11/09/2007 7:59:27 AM PST by Politicalmom (Of the potential GOP front runners, FT has one of the better records on immigration.- NumbersUSA)
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To: Politicalmom

It’s from March, so it’s hardly timely in that respect, although the information is still as relevant. I just thought that tacking it on to a thread about taxes would make sense.

4 posted on 11/09/2007 8:00:38 AM PST by kevkrom (“Should government be doing this? And if so, then at what level of government?” - FDT)
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To: jellybean; Politicalmom; girlangler; KoRn; Shortstop7; Lunatic Fringe; Darnright; babygene; ...
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Fredipedia: The Definitive Fred Thompson Reference

WARNING: If you wish to join, be aware that this ping list is EXTREMELY active.

5 posted on 11/09/2007 8:04:16 AM PST by Politicalmom (Of the potential GOP front runners, FT has one of the better records on immigration.- NumbersUSA)
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To: kevkrom

Wow. Fred in ‘08!

6 posted on 11/09/2007 8:11:52 AM PST by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: Josh Painter

Great piece!

7 posted on 11/09/2007 8:12:39 AM PST by sageb1 (This is the Final Crusade. There are only 2 sides. Pick one.)
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To: sageb1; All

Fred doesn’t dance to anybody’s tune

8 posted on 11/09/2007 8:26:55 AM PST by Squidpup ("Fight the Good Fight")
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To: kevkrom

Excellent, Kev. Send that to Thompson’s campaign site!

9 posted on 11/09/2007 8:27:46 AM PST by Finny (There are many enemies in our work. One of them is envy. -- A British naval officer)
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To: Josh Painter


10 posted on 11/09/2007 8:30:12 AM PST by papasmurf (sudo apt - get install FRed Thompson)
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To: Josh Painter
Norquist is an idiot.

They are VERY afraid of Fred. Of course the ones who want that 'pledge' signed, forgot what happened when Bush Sr. said "Read my lips. No new taxes."

How soon we forget.

11 posted on 11/09/2007 8:31:55 AM PST by Pistolshot (As long as you are waterboarding the Jihadists with pigfat, I'm all for it.)
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To: kevkrom; Politicalmom

Your post ought to get wider circulation than it has.

12 posted on 11/09/2007 8:35:24 AM PST by daylilly
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To: Josh Painter

Good work.

13 posted on 11/09/2007 8:36:04 AM PST by cpanter
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To: kevkrom
Duncan Hunter: B (62%)
Shouldn't 62% be a D ???
14 posted on 11/09/2007 8:36:10 AM PST by redtetrahedron ("Before I formed you in the womb I knew you" - Jer 1:5 | Fred'08)
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To: redtetrahedron

I believe NTU grades on a curve, after all Thompson gets an “A” with 73%.

15 posted on 11/09/2007 8:37:13 AM PST by kevkrom (“Should government be doing this? And if so, then at what level of government?” - FDT)
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16 posted on 11/09/2007 8:37:21 AM PST by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: kevkrom

So how does Hagel get a B+ with 82%?

17 posted on 11/09/2007 8:40:23 AM PST by redtetrahedron ("Before I formed you in the womb I knew you" - Jer 1:5 | Fred'08)
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To: Pistolshot

I think Norquist, like Weyrich, Dobson, Robertson, etc., sees himself as a GOP “kingmaker”.

All these self-annointed guys puff themselves up as if they have millions of “followers” who will vote exactly as they say. They therefore expect the candidates to kneel at their feet and beg for their “endorsement”. When a candidate doesn’t show proper “respect, ie., sign the “kingmaker’s pledge, well then that candidate ends up on the kingmaker’s poop list.

I’m sick of all of them.

18 posted on 11/09/2007 8:45:35 AM PST by Lancey Howard
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To: Josh Painter

Excellent! Thanks for putting this in its own thread!

19 posted on 11/09/2007 8:48:55 AM PST by Shelayne (...)
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To: redtetrahedron
So how does Hagel get a B+ with 82%?

Funny...looks like a misprint to me. His 82% is sitting right where you'd expect a 72% to be sitting.
20 posted on 11/09/2007 9:00:38 AM PST by mmichaels1970
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