EK: When it comes to the new Gang of Six -- the negotiations between Sens. Tom Coburn and Saxby Chambliss and Mike Crapo for the Republicans, and Mark Warner and Dick Durbin and Kent Conrad for the Democrats -- let’s say they really get the fiscal commission’s package on the table. About 70 percent spending cuts, 30 percent tax increases. Balanced budget fairly soon. Do you fight that deal because any tax increase is too much of a tax increase? Or is balancing the budget and making these other reforms, if they’re on the table, worth accepting?
GN: The goal is to reduce the size and scope of government spending, not to focus on the deficit. The deficit is the symptom of the disease. And there are several reasons to oppose tax increases.
Despite their rhetoric, most Republicans aren't actually interested in deficit reduction. From Reagan onward, Republicans have focused the bulk of their efforts on cutting taxes for rich people, deficits notwithstanding. Norquist may believe crazy things about the economy -- i.e. the tech boom wasn't responsible for the 1990s' unprecedented growth -- but at least he doesn't obscure his motives: The GOP's goal is lower taxes on the wealthy. Everything else is secondary.