Pledge or Wedge? Grover Norquist vs. Ross Douthat on the Taxpayer Protection Pledge
The American Enterprise Debates

Video



Post-Event Summary
Since 1986, incumbents and candidates for state and federal office have been asked to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, in which they promise not to vote to raise taxes. In the latest lively installment of the American Enterprise Debates series, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, the architect of the pledge, and Ross Douthat of the New York Times argued the merits of the pledge and its effects on US government. Norquist pointed out that the Taxpayer Protection Pledge has kept Republicans from voting for tax increases for nearly two decades. While Norquist conceded that the pledge is imperfect, he contended that it is tightly worded and clear, making it enforceable through the democratic process. Douthat countered by pointing out that while conservatives have consistently held down tax rates, they have done little to control their spending. The resulting policy environment is hyperpartisan and feeds mounting deficits that eventually translate into tax increases. The two found common ground on the idea that spending and taxes should both fall, but in the end remained split about whether a “starve the beast” approach to shrinking government was viable.
--- Daniel Hanson

Event Description
In the next American Enterprise Debate, Grover Norquist, founder of Americans for Tax Reform, will argue that the Taxpayer Protection Pledge is an effective bulwark against tax increases. New York Times columnist Ross Douthat will counter with his claim that the tax pledge has created political gridlock that threatens to derail serious tax reform and deficit reduction. AEI research fellow and former chief economist to the House Ways and Means Committee Alex Brill will moderate.

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About the Author

 

Alex
Brill
  • Alex Brill is a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he studies the impact of tax policy on the US economy as well as the fiscal, economic, and political consequences of tax, budget, health care, retirement security, and trade policies. He also works on health care reform, pharmaceutical spending and drug innovation, and unemployment insurance reform. Brill is the author of a pro-growth proposal to reduce the corporate tax rate to 25 percent, and “The Real Tax Burden: More than Dollars and Cents” (2011), coauthored with Alan D. Viard. He has testified numerous times before Congress on tax policy, labor markets and unemployment insurance, Social Security reform, fiscal stimulus, the manufacturing sector, and biologic drug competition.

    Before joining AEI, Brill served as the policy director and chief economist of the House Ways and Means Committee. Previously, he served on the staff of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. He has also served on the staff of the President's Fiscal Commission (Simpson-Bowles) and the Republican Platform Committee (2008).

    Brill has an M.A. in mathematical finance from Boston University and a B.A. in economics from Tufts University.

  • Phone: 202-862-5931
    Email: alex.brill@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Brittany Pineros
    Phone: 202-862-5926
    Email: brittany.pineros@aei.org

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