Conservatives say there is a compelling reason why they are opposing President Barack Obama's plan to raise taxes on the wealthy. It's because that is what they promised to their constituents. In fact, conservative leaders say they have a mandate, too, and it's very different from the president's.
"We just elected a Republican House — 219 members of the House won by bigger margins than Obama won by," said conservative strategist Grover Norquist. "They ran against raising taxes and for the Ryan plan, which is actually $6 trillion in spending restraint over the next decade, and [for] tax reform rather than tax increases." Norquist was referring to Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan.
In the Nov. 6 election, voters re-elected Obama, Republicans maintained control of the House and control of the senate remained Democratic.
Norquist said Obama's re-election victory did not give him "the power to impose anything he wants."
Norquist was a guest on CNN's Piers Morgan Monday, saying that Obama is "moving the goal post" in negotiations with Congress over the budget because he keeps demanding more and more money from taxes rather than simply insisting on higher rates. Norquist is the head of Americans for Tax Reform and has become very influential in the GOP because he persuaded many Republicans to sign a pledge never to raise taxes.
Obama and congressional leaders are engaged in talks to avoid automatic spending cuts and tax hikes that would take effect on Jan. 1 unless an agreement is reached to stop them. Economists warn that the automatic cuts and tax hikes could cause another recession.
There has been little apparent progress in the talks so far. White House officials say Obama will oppose the House GOP's latest plan, which would not raise tax rates but would aim to increase revenue from tax collections by $800 billion over 10 years through closing loopholes and changing the tax code.
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Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog, "Ken Walsh's Washington," for usnews.com, and is the author of "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at kwalsh@usnews and followed on Facebook and Twitter.