The loopy mendacity of Grover Norquist

The high priest of tax cuts blames the recession on the Democratic takeover of Congress in 2006. Even some of his own comrades can't hide their embarrassment.

By Andrew Leonard

Published February 6, 2009 10:23PM (EST)

On Friday afternoon, Grover Norquist posted the following explanation of why the U.S. economy is sliding into the deepest recession since World War II at the National Review Online's group blog, The Corner.

The economy as measured by the market and businesses' willingness to hire does not sound very excited by the Reid/Pelosi/Obama spending spree.

The economy began to collapse when the Democrats captured the House and Senate and we then knew that the lower tax rates on individuals, capital gains, and dividends would end after 2010.

It's not the first time that Norquist, president of the anti-tax lobbying group Americans for Tax Reform, has unburdened himself of such breath-taking imbecility. But to do so in response to the news that the economy lost 600,000 jobs in January is bold, even for him -- (and of course, stunningly wrong, even in the narrowest sense -- at the very moment Norquist wrote those words the stock market was rebounding, on hopes, theorized by none other than that shining beacon of leftwing propaganda, the Wall Street Journal, that the stimulus bill would pass. If Norquist wants to see a real market panic, wait and see what happens if the Senate fails to pass a stimulus bill.)

As Paul Krugman replied when I asked him how one combats such prideful ignorance (or willful mendacity, take your pick) as that displayed on a daily basis by Norquist, "to some extent you can't fight it, people will believe what they want to believe." But there is some evidence that there's a limit to what Norquist's own fellow travelers are willing to stomach. Responding at The Corner to Norquist, Ramesh Ponnuru, author of "The Party of Death: The Democrats, the Media, the Courts, and the Disregard for Human Life," wrote:

This interpretation of the economy strikes me as highly implausible.

Of course it does. And of course Norquist knows it is implausible, and ridiculous. All's fair in love and pro-tax-cut propaganda. The scary thing is that Norquist is an influential figure in the Republican party, and his reduction of economic analysis to cartoon absurdity is hardly unique -- we've been hearing it on the floor of the Senate every day, all day, all week long.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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