Daily Show host Jon Stewart debated Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist on Monday night, questioning whether his influential pledge was realistic.
Nearly every Republican in Congress has signed Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge, vowing to oppose any and all tax increases. Only 14 Republican members of 112th Congress have refused to sign the pledge.
Stewart challenged Norquist to defend the pledge, which he characterized as absolutist and an easy sell. Although Norquist said the pledge was ultimately meant to make the government spend less money and be more efficient, Stewart criticized him for not making legislators vow to cut the budget.
“When you speak about it in this manner, you sound like an absolutely reasonable individual talking about reforming and working within a system,” Stewart said. “When you put out pledges — you know you talk about the unions and the pledges. So what does the Republican governor do? He goes in and he removes any sort of public’s unions right to collective bargaining.”
“So its not, ‘we need to be on the same page.’ He goes in and says, ‘unions are the problem, they’re jerks, they’re the ones who are freeloading on the system, people who aren’t paying any taxes are the ones who are really gumming things up.’ Their rhetoric in no way matches the very sort of sensible, reformist mantra that you have taken on here.”
“So I’m just wondering, how do you talk when you’re with them?” he asked.
In February, Norquist told the Daily Show that he came up with the pledge when he was 12-years-old.