Washington (CNN) - House Speaker John Boehner downplayed the influence of Washington's most notable anti-tax crusader, calling Grover Norquist "some random person" at his weekly press conference Thursday.
Asked about Norquist, who heads the powerful Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) group, Boehner said, "it's not often I'm asked about some random person in America and what I think."
When pressed again about Norquist's sway over the House GOP, the speaker said he was focused squarely on creating jobs, not talking "about somebody's personality." But Boehner stressed the GOP stance on taxes, saying "our conference is opposed to tax hikes because we believe that tax hikes will hurt our economy and put Americans out of work."
Norquist's group urges members of Congress each session to sign a pledge to their constituents that they will not vote for any tax increases. With the "super committee" now less than three weeks from its deadline for voting on a plan to cut at least $1.2 trillion from the deficit there is increased focus on the anti-tax promise, and whether there will be political fallout for those who consider breaking it. It's unclear whether some options under discussion, such as closing corporate loopholes, would be interpreted as being in conflict with ATR's pledge.
Asked about the inclusion of revenues in a debt plan at a press conference on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Norquist said he supported getting rid of the deductions added to the tax code as political deals. But he also warned against efforts to use the ending of special carve outs as "a Trojan horse for tax increases."
Norquist added, "That's why the earlier efforts on increasing taxes on the energy sector to spend the money was a nonstarter. This is to clean up the code without turning it into a secret backdoor tax increase which is what too often what some people use tax reform to do."
According to the ATR website 238 House members and 41 senators have signed its pledge, which reads, "I will: ONE, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rate for individuals and business; and TWO, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates."
Just two House Democrats and one Senate Democrat signed the pledge in this session of Congress, and Congressional Democrats frequently argue that Norquist's pledge is the reason Republicans have been unwilling to compromise on the issue of tax increases as part of a big deal to slash the federal deficit.
The House Democrats' campaign arm jumped on Boehner's comment, arguing it contradicted the House GOP's actions on tax policy.
"It's laughable that after nearly every House Republican has signed away their ability to close tax loopholes for big oil and tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires in this special interest pledge, now Speaker Boehner thinks that its author is just a random person," said Jesse Ferguson, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Earlier this week former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson sarcastically referred to Norquist in his testimony before the "super committee," saying, "if Grover is now the most powerful man in America he should run for president. There is no question about his power and he has people enthralled."
Simpson has repeatedly argued that tax revenues need to be paired with entitlement reforms in order to come up with a comprehensive deficit reduction package.
South Dakota Republican Sen. John Thune, when asked about the charge by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that the GOP are "puppets" of Norquist, said GOP's opposition to tax increases is a philosophical tenet of the party. But Thune said he believed the GOP could support ending special tax loopholes if done in broader approach.
"If you were able to come up with some reforms to our tax code that lower rates and broaden the tax base and get away with a lot of the lobbyist loopholes that riddle our tax code today, that you would see economic growth and that would generate more revenue. I don't think there's anybody on our side who is opposed to that," Thune said.
–CNN's Kate Bolduan, Ted Barrett, and Xuan Thai contributed to this report.
And another person goes to hell, for lieing.
His declaring his ignorance of who Norquist is is and insult to Americans. This man and the Republican party bow before Norquist by having signed his pledge, they owe their allegiance to him, they are basically owned by him. The Republicans continue to play the American people for fools and their time is running out.
Those words Boner, will get you kicked out of the House!
I'm an average Joe, level-headed, hard-working, sober. Why is it I feel like puking every time I read something a Teapublican says?
Waaaaaaah - making me disown my god.
Congressional Democrats frequently argue that Norquist's pledge is the reason Republicans have been unwilling to compromise on the issue of tax increases as part of a big deal to slash the federal deficit.
Congressional Democrats are notorious lately for inventing excuses. The fact is, taxing our way out of this mess is not the right answer and Republicans are smart enough to know that. The fact is that the government has become too expensive for our economy and allowing the government to continue growing by feeding it more taxes solves nothing. It hurts the economy and takes pressure off of Washington politicians to actually manage our tax dollars. Republicans have listened to the American voters who sent them to Washington and they are doing what we asked them to do.
No use of trying to diss him now, especially when you sir signed the pledge FIRST! John Boehner was so desperate to become speaker of the house, it literally sold his soul to the devil and unfortunately the devil does not issue back refunds!
"The Republicans continue to play the American people for fools and their time is running out."
Really ? I'd rather be played for a fool than exploited by the political elites and communists taht have entrenched themselves in the heart of the Democratic party.
Are you kidding me? You guys kiss the ground he walks on.
I wonder how the GOP would feel if Obama signed a pledge as a senator from Al Sharpton saying he would never agree to vote on spending cuts on low income people..........exactly how you should feel about all of these people who have signed a pledge by Norquist!
Anyone who has, just violated their oath of office, Period!
I hope he begged permission from Norquist to say that.
I going to install a timer that tells us how close the USA is to becoming a third world country with plenty of military weapons ( like North Korea, etc). The ticker can be sped up with every stupid decision and slowed down when these elected officals put in policy that actually help solved problems.
I hope it has more than 10 minutes on it when I turn it on.
If you think the Nordquist pledge is not good for Washington politics, then vote against your member of Congress if he/she signed on to it. Personally, I think it is a borderline violation of the oath of office. I think signees should be brought before an ethics committee and grilled about what are their priorities; some random person or their constiuents.
@mk1..couldn't have said it better. Norquist is the Republican "Oracle." To prevent a primary fight from the tea party, many Republicans signed pledges on his high altar never to raise taxes no matter what. They brought hunting leases, cash, sports tickets, and varieties of entertainment goodies to offer the "Oracle" to deliver them elections....well I made that part up. Does any of these republican/tea party folks have any allegiance to America anymore?
Of course...Boehner only knows Grovey-poo by flavor, not by name.
The fact is, taxing our way out of this mess is not the right answer and Republicans are smart enough to know that.
It is not caled taxing our way out. We tax cut our ways into this mess. It's called putting it into reverse and going back to tax rates that allowed for a balanced budget, instead of this suicidal path of over the top deficit spending. The American people have shown what they want in the polls given the choice between higher taxes or spending cuts. They want BOTH.
Isn't signing a pledge for a random person, that has an effect on the entire nation highly illegal and against their oath to serve the people and the COUNTRY, and just cause for immediate dismissal ?
the repblicans are liars and hypocrites, constantly accusing the democrats of doing what the gop is actually doing. in interpersonal interactions, this would be called "projection."
What do you expect from john Boehner the man that continue to get PUNKED by the trailed Tea Party. The people that keep their Rebel Flags and Christmas lights on their front porch all year long. He's Eric Cantors little puppet
You Republican have sign so many Pledges from special group of People and he one of the group. You Republican forgot about the Oath you took when you all took office. And you all Swear to the Oath on a Bible. So what John Boehner really saying Is that just another Republican Lie.
We should just raise taxes to pay for W, HW, and Reagans debt, once that's paid off, then we'll cut spending.
I'll bet Four and the Door won't have the courage enough to post how much debt these 3 presidents added, then add Clinton and Barry's (note Barry has only spent 4 T of the total 14), Carter could be included, but why argue about billions
John Boehner sing the pledge now that person is random person. Another bad news for Boehner he and his party targeting Obama job ignoring Americans jobs, result Boehner may lose his job
Four and the Door: " Republicans have listened to the American voters who sent them to Washington and they are doing what we asked them to do."
What happened to the focus on jobs? Remember, the laser-like focus we were promised? That's what will get us moving again, and take care of the infrastructure the private sector depends on to move goods and services. No matter, Obama is succeeding in spite of them. For the GOP to now claim any sort of credit for the recovery and to blame anything bad on Obama is akin to the arsonist attacking the Fire Department for not responding fast enough to the blaze he started. The GOP has been steadily trying to change the reality to suit their ideology instead of realizing ( as Alan Simpson and Pete Domenici have) that new revenues have to come from closing the idiotic loopholes that have served no purpose and raising taxes on a small percentage of the top earners. Boehner is a perfect example of leading from behind, because he has not got a fraction of the fortitude needed to tell Norquist, the Tea Party, and all the others in la-la land to live in the real world or go to hell.
I think voters should sign a pledge, to never, ever elect another Republican to the Senate or Congress.
The Orange Man is lying through his teeth. Boehner is a political prostitute of the lowest kind, and Norquist own's his sorry butt. Par for the course with GOBP deathcult.