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Norquist Is No Fan of ‘Gang of Six’ Plan

After two days of holding his fire, Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform said Thursday that the “gang of six” deficit reduction plan appears to “dramatically raise taxes.”

In a statement, the group said the details of the gang of six’s plan are “deliberately hazy.” But it didn’t directly address the question of whether the plan violates ATR’s no-tax-hike pledge, which the vast majority of Republican lawmakers have signed.

Norquist was trying to “clarify” a quote in the Washington Post. Norquist was quoted in an editorial as saying that his group, Americans for Tax Reform, would not consider allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire to be a violation of the tax pledge. The Post said that leaves Republican pledge signers free to agree to up to $4 trillion in revenue elsewhere over the next decade.

Democrats immediately jumped on the Washington Post quote to urge House Republicans to compromise. In a floor speech Thursday, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) urged the GOP to get off “default Denier Island” and embrace Norquist’s “lifeline” to getting a deal that includes revenue.

Schumer said House Republicans were now to the right even of Norquist.

The ATR statement came out moments later.

ATR’s statement asserted that letting the Bush tax cuts expire, or failing to extend the alternative minimum tax patch, would raise taxes.

“It is a violation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to trade temporary tax reductions for permanent tax hikes,” the statement said.

However, the gang’s plan would permanently adjust the tax code to cut rates while shrinking deductions. Some critics, including a House Budget Committee analysis, say it appears to raise tax revenue by more than $2 trillion, but Republicans in the gang of six say the additional revenue comes from economic growth resulting from a simpler, more efficient tax code. GOP members of the gang have said it would be scored by the Congressional Budget Office as a $1.5 trillion tax cut.

That CBO score, however, assumes the $3.5 trillion Bush tax cuts expire. And many Republicans say, instead, that those tax rates should be made permanent.

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