Norquist: ‘Promises to Tax the Few, Quickly Morph Into Taxes on All Americans’

By Melanie Arter | April 18, 2012 | 10:26 AM EDT

Taxpayers search through tax forms at the Illinois Department of Revenue in Springfield, Ill. (AP Photo)

( Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, warned that President Barack Obama’s promise to raise taxes only wealthy Americans through the Buffet rule will turn into taxes on all Americans, as has been the case with other tax scenarios targeted toward specific segments of society in the past.

Speaking at a Tax Day event on Monday, Norquist warned that the president’s effort to apply the Buffet rule to today’s tax code will eventually affect the rest of the nation.

The White House Web site describes the Buffet rule: “No household making more than $1 million each year should pay a smaller share of their income taxes than a middle class family pays. This is the Buffet rule – a simple principle of tax fairness that asks everyone to pay their fair share.”

“Trickle down taxation is of course the argument that, ‘Oh, we’re only going to tax rich people,’ and yet over time each of these efforts become a significant tax on all Americans. While they discuss the Buffet rule as only a tax on the few, some of us are painfully reminded that they said the same thing in 1969 when they instituted the alternate minimum tax,” Norquist said.

“The alternate minimum tax was only going to hit 115 people. Today the alternate minimum tax hits 4 million people, and in January of next year, it will hit 31 million people. So when somebody tells you that they’ve got a tax increase only on the rich, they have a 31 million-person rich target that they are putting forward,” he warned.

If the player does not load, please check that you are running the latest version of Adobe Flash Player.

Norquist said the same thing happened with the Spanish-American war tax, which “was going to be paid by rich people – rich people in 1898, who had phones.”

“That tax lasted 100 years. During most of that 100 years, 97 percent of Americans had phones. The tax on the rich became a tax on every man very quickly,” Norquist said.

Even the personal income tax “was going to be a tax on two percent of the population and is now a tax that directly hits more than half of the population,” he said.

“So once again we’re being told that there’s going to be a tax increase only on a few people. Of course, more recently, that promise has been put forward and broken,” Norquist said, pointing to a promise Obama made on Sept. 12, 2008, when Obama said: “I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 will see any form of tax increase – not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.”

“Now on 16 days into his presidency, Barack Obama signed his first tax increase. It was a tax increase on people who use tobacco – about 20 to 25 percent of the American population, average income $40,000 a year, and has been pointed out scientifically, there’s only one American who earns over $250,000 a year and smokes cigarettes, and his name is Barack Obama,” Norquist said.

“So the first tax increase he passed was a tax increase on lower- and middle-income Americans, a tax on tens of million of Americans. Then he went on during Obamacare to raise seven different specific taxes that target all Americans, not just the rich, and of course, he follows Clinton’s promise,” he added.

“Remember President Clinton promised he’d only raise taxes on the top two percent of Americans, and in point of fact, that summer, he raised taxes on everybody who drives a car and buys gasoline with a gasoline tax, which makes all of us rich people very quickly. Promises to tax the few, quickly morph into taxes on all Americans,” Norquist said.