Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist says the capital is headed for four years of "stasis" over budget priorities because neither President Obama nor congressional Republicans have sufficient power to prevail.
"At the national level, the president can't make the Congress do anything, and the Congress can't make the president do anything," says Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform.
Obama and the Democrats favor more tax increases and relatively modest spending cuts, while the Republicans want to make deeper spending cuts and oppose more tax hikes. The result will be deadlock and budget battles for years to come, with no grand bargain to resolve the matter, Norquist says.
On another issue, Norquist disputes the idea that gun control will be very helpful to Democrats, as White House strategists argue. He tells me that, even though polls show that President Obama's gun-control proposals are popular, relatively few voters consider gun control an overriding issue and those who do will vote for the Democrats anyway, so they are not in play.
On the overall political landscape, Norquist says the Republican party is not in the dire condition described by many commentators. He says GOP governors are doing a good job across the country, serving as models of conservative governance and at the same time proving to be problem solvers. Among those he praises are Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, and Rick Perry of Texas. "Republican governors are governing well," Norquist says.
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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 "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He is the author of the new book "Prisoners of the White House: The Isolation of America's Presidents and the Crisis of Leadership." Ken Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and followed on Facebook and Twitter.