The real fault line for Republicans is between Norquist-style radicals and Ronald Reagan, who presided over the bipartisan 1986 tax simplification deal by closing loopholes to raise revenues. As Reagan said at the time, "We're going to close the unproductive tax loopholes that have allowed some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share." In addition, the "sainted" Reagan oversaw some 11 tax increases during his administration. To be sure, his overall goal was to slash rates and simplify the system -- but he was not nearly as absolutist as his activist acolytes who do not have to deal with actually governing.
Norquist's hold on the GOP has been loosening as congressional leaders recognize that this extreme, unelected activist is helping to hold a balanced bipartisan deal hostage. The election is over. The time for hatred, ideological obstruction and overheated rhetoric has passed. Reasonable Republicans and Democrats need to take on their respective special interests to get a long-term deficit and debt deal done.
It's foolish to be afraid of Norquist. The only pledge members of Congress should take is the Pledge of Allegiance.
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