Friday, December 9th, 2016

Hovde’s tax plan and Grover Norquist

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Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform (AFTR)  is attacking senate candidate Eric Hovde for being the only candidate not to sign the AFTR tax pledge.

Americans for Tax Reform calls on U.S. Senate candidate Eric Hovde to tell Wisconsin voters what taxes he intends on raising. In his bid for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination, Hovde is the only Republican candidate to refuse to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, leaving the door open to higher taxes on Wisconsin families and small businesses.

Americans for Tax Reform Taxpayer Protection Pledge


Norquist then attacks Hovde for once saying that he would not mind if his own taxes went up, something Hovde has explained was referring to a specific tax break that affects him.

Norquist also says that without a written pledge, Hovde must be intent on raising taxes. That assumes that the AFTR pledge is the only way a candidate can promise to not raise taxes. While that position helps draw attention to Norquist’s group, it’s simply not correct. The reality is that Hovde does have a statement in writing on his website:

By lowering individual income tax rates across the board, lowering the corporate tax rate and eliminating corporate welfare and nearly all of the loopholes and deductions that exist, we can provide much-needed relief for hard-working Americans, level the playing field for small and medium-sized businesses and create real and sustainable economic growth.

Of course, doing what Hovde would like to do would be even better than the Norquist pledge. The downside of signing Norquist’s pledge is that, depending on Norquist’s mood and most recent interpretation, the part of Hovde’s plan of “eliminating corporate welfare and nearly all of the loopholes and deductions” could be considered a violation of the promise no matter how laudable the outcome.

So while the debate over whether to sign Norquist’s pledge benefits Norquist, and judging from interview of Norquist on WTDY it was also intended to help former Governor Tommy Thompson, it does not really add anything to our understanding of the candidates’ positions.

(I’d also point out that former State Representative Sheldon Wasserman also signed a pledge not to raise taxes, and look how effective it was.)

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