Grover Norquist is a conservative activist, lobbyist, and founder and president of the non-profit Americans for Tax Reform, founded at the request of Reagan to reduce government revenues as a percentage of the GDP. ATR’s mission statement is “The government's power to control one's life derives from its power to tax. We believe that power should be minimized.” ATR opposes cap-and-trade legislation and Democratic health care reform. It does not disclose its contributors.
Norquist promotes the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” signed by nearly all Republican congressmen to oppose tax increases and net reductions or eliminations of deductions and credits without a matching reduced tax rate.
Critics see this as an obstacle to deficit reduction. Former Republican Senator Alan Simpson, co-chairman of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, said Norquist's position is “[n]o taxes, under any situation, even if your country goes to hell.”
Norquist co-founded the Islamic Free Market Institute, and has been involved with Acton Institute, Christian Coalition (founded by Pat Robertson) and Toward Tradition. Toward Tradition was founded by Rabbi Daniel Lapin, who once lobbied for board member and convicted felon Jack Abramoff. Norquist was one of Abramoff's first major Republican party contacts.
Norquist is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves on the boards of the National Rifle Association, American Conservative Union, and ParentalRights.org, an organization that wishes to add a Parental Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution. to protect them from federal interference and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
He received his BA and MBA from Harvard. Norquist is married to a Palestinian Muslim woman, formerly a director of the Islamic Free Market Institute, and they have two children.
He began is career as executive director of the National Taxpayers Union and the national College Republicans, and as economist and speechwriter at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
In the late 1980s Norquist he traveled to several war zones to help support anti-Soviet guerrilla armies, including work with a support network for Oliver North’s efforts with Nicaraguan contras.
Norquist was one of the co-authors, with Newt Gingrich, of Contract with America. He helped with grassroots efforts and worked as a campaign staff member on Republican Platform Committees in 1998, 1992, and 1996. He acted as an unofficial liaison between the conservative movement and George W. Bush. Norquist was a central figure in crafting Bush’s tax cuts in his first term.
It has been said that Norquist is responsible more than anyone else for rewriting the dogma of the Republican Party. In 1993 he began his Wednesday Meeting series at ATR and it has become one of the key institutions in conservative political organizing.
Similar meetings are held in 48 states and are intended to create a national network of conservative activists that he can call upon to support conservative causes, such as tax cuts and deregulation. In Virginia's 2005 Republican primaries Norquist encouraged the defeat of a number of legislators who voted for higher taxes.
In 1995 Norquist and then-House majority whip Tom DeLay launched the K Street Project, an effort of the GOP to pressure Washington lobbying firms to hire Republicans in top positions, and to reward loyal GOP lobbyists with access to influential officials. This is now illegal: the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 bans members of Congress and staffers from using their political power to influence the employment decision of any private entity “on the basis of partisan political affiliation.”
In 2006 Norquist filed a trademark application for “The K Street Project:” “The K Street Project promotes the hire of lobbyists at corporations and trade associations who understand free-market economics, who support their principled positions for free trade, against tort law abuse, and for lower and more transparent taxation.”
He is opposed to bipartisanship, “another name for date rape.” In 2003 he said, “We are trying to change the tones in the state capitals -- and turn them toward bitter nastiness and partisanship.”
Norquist said in 2004, “Our goal is to inflict pain. It is not good enough to win; it has to be a painful and devastating defeat. We're sending a message here. It is like when the king would take his opponent's head and spike it on a pole for everyone to see.”
He is active in Tea Party politics and has said that “tea party groups should serve as the ‘exoskeleton’ that protects newly elected Republicans” from pressures to increase government spending.
Norquist favors smaller government, with a goal to bring America back to what it was “up until Teddy Roosevelt, when the socialists took over. The income tax, the death tax, regulation, all that.” He also said, “I'm not in favor of abolishing the government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”
“Our goal is to inflict pain. It is not good enough to win; it has to be a painful and devastating defeat. We're sending a message here. It is like when the king would take his opponent's head and spike it on a pole for everyone to see.”
(National Journal, 2003 as quoted in “The Republican Noise Machine” by David Brock)
“We are trying to change the tones in the state capitals — and turn them toward bitter nastiness and partisanship.” “Bipartisanship is another name for date rape.”
(“Rancor becomes top DC export: GOP leads charge in ideological war,” Farrell, John A., The Denver Post, 26 May 2003, p. A-01 – Source)
“My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”
“Every time you cut programs, you take away a person who has a vested interest in high taxes and you put him on the tax rolls and make him a taxpayer. A farmer on subsidies is part welfare bum, whereas a free-market farmer is a small businessman with a gun.”
(July 4, 2003, citing an interview in Human Events magazine – Source)