Grover Norquist says YES to Maine's TABOR II, protestors say "Go home"
Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and anti-tax activist, announced his support for Maine's Tax Relief Initiative, Question 4 today. "There's a heightened interest on spending and I think the Maine TABOR will sort of be a spark to other states. I'm talking to taxpayer activists and citizens' groups, in other states, all of whom are looking to see that if Maine, a moderate Northeastern state says, 'Yes, let's take a look at this,' it then becomes a stronger sell in Arizona and Washington and Oregon and Florida," said Norquist.Norquist said that he in no way sees TABOR, taxpayer bill of rights, going away any time soon. In fact, Norquist said that he believes voters are more receptive to spending caps due to growing frustration with government bailouts and the distribution of stimulus money. However, opponents of TABOR II argue that, if TABOR is approved, the state of Maine will see a "ratchet down effect" on annual government spending that will eventually place very tight restrictions on the state's budget. Some refer to a past quote by Norquist in which he stated that he would like to reduce government "to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub," as evidence of an extreme restriction on government. However, Norquist argued that that is not the case. "I don’t want to abolish government. I want to reduce it to the size that would fit into a bathtub, meaning, very small. But that is a rebuttal to the ridiculous assertion that if you think government should go on a diet that you think it should disappear. When you suggest a person go on a diet you aren’t suggesting that they disappear. Cancer doctors are not anti-cell. Weight-loss clinics are not anti-people. And those of us who would like government to consume less of other people’s income are not against government, we're against a government that is too chunky, and too big," he said at the Thursday conference. Additionally, Tarren Bragdon, chief executive officer of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, author of Question 4, noted that they specifically drafted the bill ensure that there wouldn't be a "ratchet effect" in the state of Maine. "Question 4 has no ratchet effect, but instead a sound budget stabilization fund so that we have smooth predictable increases in government spending, not these wide swings that we have been subjected to over the last 20 years," said Bragdon.
Opponents of TABOR II protested not only the Maine Heritage Policy Center's conference on Thursday but also Norquist's appearance in Maine to support Question 4. "Go home Grover," read some of the signs that protesters carried. Among the protestors were members of Citizens for a Unified Maine, who is running the No on TABOR campaign, and Ben Dudley, executive director of Engage Maine. Dudley said on Thursday that Norquist's presences "very well represents the attitude of TABOR, what TABOR is trying to accomplish," which he called "an extreme perspective."
Check back later for full interviews with Tarren Bragdon and Ben Dudley on Question 4.