Norquist: Boehner—Not White House—Holds Power in Fiscal Cliff Talks

The Americans for Tax Reform president believes Boehner will keep no-new-taxes pledge.

American for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist
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House Speaker John Boehner is already facing the reality that he is up against not only Democrats but conservative members of his own caucus as he seeks to find a solution to the so-called fiscal cliff.

During a speech Wednesday, Boehner struck an appeasing tone signaling he'd be willing to generate revenues by reducing deductions and closing tax loopholes as long as they are paired with entitlement cuts.

"For purposes of forging a bipartisan agreement that begins to solve the problem, we're willing to accept new revenue, under the right conditions," Boehner said.

Conservative groups are now pushing back against Boehner's willingness to play ball.

[READ: The Simpleton's Guide to the Fiscal Cliff]

Senate Conservative Fund, a GOP super PAC, fired off a letter Friday to supporters admonishing Boehner for his openness to a tax plan that is not revenue neutral.

"In the past two days since the election, House Speaker John Boehner—the highest ranking Republican in the nation—has suggested that his party will abandon its opposition to tax increases," wrote Matt Hoskins, executive director of the Senate Conservative Fund. "The only way for Republicans to improve their party's image is to boldly stand for the principles of freedom that made this country great. Abandoning these principles and capitulating to liberal policies is not a strategy for success. The Republican Party has tried this approach many times and it doesn't work."

Boehner's initial tone is far from what the White House and Senate Democrats would like to see in upcoming weeks as both sides sit down to hammer out an agreement on how to deal with the fiscal cliff.

President Barack Obama campaigned on raising taxes on households making more than $250,000 a year, and 60 percent of voters in exit polls signaled they supported it. Boehner, however, has signaled that raising taxes on anyone is a nonstarter.

[RELATED: The Fiscal Cliff Just Got Steeper]

"It is unacceptable and quite frankly it couldn't even pass the House. And I am not certain it could pass the Senate," Boehner said in an interview with ABC News.

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, unlike some other conservatives on the Hill, says he's confident Boehner won't abandon Norquist's no-new-taxes pledge.

"John Boehner and [GOP Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell are not going to put any fingerprints on tax rate increases," Norquist says. "And they won't have to."

Norquist argues that even after Obama's win, Boehner is in a much more powerful position for negotiating than are the president and Senate Democrats. In 2014, 20 Senate Democrats are up for re-election—some in very red states. And while House Republicans are up for re-election as well, many are in much safer districts.

Norquist predicts the fiscal cliff debate will be a replay of the same showdown in 2010 when Bush-era tax cuts were set to expire and Obama extended all of them in the lame-duck session.

"If you are sitting with the same two people with the same chess board with the pieces in the same place, I expect the same thing to happen," Norquist says.

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Lauren Fox is a political reporter for U.S. News & World Report. She can be reached at lfox@usnews.com or you can follow her on Twitter @foxreports.