Norquist also told CNN's Anderson Cooper that when budget cuts to replace the blanket sequester of the cliff are discussed during the first two months of the year that there is room in the Pentagon budget to increase efficiency and cut waste.
“It’s technically not a violation of the pledge,” he said, adding “but I understand why a lot of Republicans said, ‘look, even though what’s happening is the tax cuts disappear, we’re restoring them for most people. So we’re not raising taxes, we’re actually cutting taxes.’”
Most Republicans in Congress have signed the pledge to voters not to raise taxes during their first campaigns for office, and it is seen as a significant promise to their constituents which they work to keep at every turn.
“They need to be able to say with a straight face that they fought to protect those tax cuts for everybody, and all the Republicans in the House have done that more than once,” Norquist said. “They’re fighting to oppose any and all tax increases.”
With a deal on the cuts reached, Norquist said that when Congress begins to look at the budget, they need to look at everything — including the sprawling Pentagon section which takes up a large portion of it.
He said that while the country must have a strong military to “make sure nobody can throw a punch at us successfully,” there are things to look at. Pensions and decisions on contracting are two significant ones, he said.
“Serious conservatives need to declare that they, that taxpayers, are looking at the entire budget and saying, ‘where can we be more efficient and more effective?’ We have a rather large Pentagon budget, larger than most of the other countries in the world that have armies, navies, and air forces combined,” Norquist said.
“Part of a strong America is to not have this massive spending that we’ve been having.”
Norquist said that the reason compromise on the cliff has been so difficult is because the Democratic and Republican parties are looking to move in opposite directions. “If somebody wants to go east, and somebody wants to go west, what would a compromise be? I’m in favor of compromising in the direction of liberty,” he said.
“The Democrats have an expansive view of the role of government,” he said. “They want higher taxes in order to spend more money. The Republicans want lower taxes and spending less money... We had a compromise in 2011. Republicans wanted to cut spending by $6 trillion — the Ryan plan — and we agreed to $2.5 trillion in spending cuts. That was a compromise.”
“We wanted more spending [cuts], we got less, because Obama wouldn’t support more spending reduction. So, you can have compromise in the direction of liberty, but raising taxes and spending more money, which is what Obama wants to do, is moving away from liberty. That’s not compromising for the American people. That’s losing.”