In six years as IL 6th District Congressman, Peter Roskam has signed a pledge to just one person. Unfortunately, that person not only resides outside the 6th District, he resides outside the mainstream of responsible governance. I'm speaking, of course, about Grover Norquist, the GOP mastermind of maintaining ever lower tax rates for the wealthiest Americans with his Taxpayer Protection Pledge. This pledge, which should be called: "Rich Folks Taxpayer Protection at the Expense of Everyone Else Pledge" has been signed by Congressman Roskam and virtually every other GOP Congressman to demonstrate obeisance to their fabulously wealthy base as determined by Mr. Norquist.
I was reminded about Roskam's pledge to Norquist after reading his latest constituent email titled: "We can solve this", concerning current bipartisan efforts to control our nation's debt. Roskam began by recognizing the electorate's overwhelming re-election of President Obama by 116 electoral and 3.5 million popular votes. But he omitted recognizing possibly the biggest single lesson of the election: the great majority of the country, roughly two thirds, want the rich to give back a portion of the trillions in undeserved and unneeded tax cuts they got from Roskam's party back in 2001 and 2003. That brings us to Mr. Norquist. This political operative, active in GOP policy development since 1968, founded the Americans for Tax Reform in 1985, and created his Taxpayer Protection Pledge as a way unifying Republican Congressmen and Senators around protecting and promoting the largest transfer of our nation's wealth in history up to GOP's wealthy base while investment in the needy, the environment, our crumbling infrastructure, education and health care system are all shortchanged.
In Roskam's bizarre and heartless world view, popular public support for reducing a tiny portion of upper 2%'s tax cuts is totally ignored. Instead, Roskam says we can get more tax revenue by extending the tax cuts on the wealthy for one more year. Roskam wasn't playing Rip Van Winkle these past 11 years. As the rich got their trillions in foolhardy tax breaks, and our nation's debt soared, he was not only wide awake, he was feverishly championing that policy as GOP House Chief Deputy Whip. If you read closely, you will find that Roskam twists the urgent need for more revenue from the folks engorging on the largest tax breaks in history, into this silliness: "the country is highly dissatisfied with the current tax code".
Just this weekend, several high profile GOP leaders, including Senators John McCain, Lindsay Graham and Congressman Peter King, publicly broke with Grover Norquist. Alas, Congressman Roskam will have a hard time breaking with the patron saint of the rich when he can neither utter his name nor mention the words: "tax rates on the rich". In some Democratic political offices you might find a portrait of FDR or John Kennedy adorning the wall. In some Republican offices it might be Abraham Lincoln or Dwight D. Eisenhower. If we could peek into Peter Roskam's House office we might not be surprised to find prominently displayed.....Grover Glenn Norquist.