Influential anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist made several stops in North Carolina yesterday. He visited the capitol to show support for Republican proposals to overhaul the state’s tax system, and ended the day in Huntersville.
About 50 people showed up at the Northstone Country Club in Huntersville on Thursday night to hear Grover Norquist speak about his vision to eliminate the income tax. He repeated one number over and over again.
"The goal is to get to zero," Norquist says.
That's zero income tax. He says that would force government to restructure and, in his opinion, reform itself.
Norquist is head of Americans for Tax Reform in Washington, D.C. He’s in the state to praise House and Senate legislation that would cut North Carolina’s income tax to a flat rate of 5.9 or 4.5 percent. The bills would also cut the state’s sales tax by a quarter-cent, but expand that tax to personal services that currently are not taxed.
"If you don't raise taxes, you have to govern, you have to make decisions," Norquist says. "Which is why some people hate the idea of not raising taxes. You have to do stuff, you have to say yes to some people and no to some other people."
Most congressional Republicans have signed Norquist’s famous – or infamous, depending on your point of view – Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Those who sign the pledge promise to oppose income tax increases. Many critics say the pledge and Norquist’s influence are getting in the way of meaningful deficit reduction efforts.
But Julie Byrne of Huntersville is a big fan of Norquist and the pledge.
"It's not very often you get to go hear tax celebrities come to your neighborhood," Byrne says. "So open bar and a tax celebrity at my neighborhood -- that's a fun Thursday for me."
Norquist will end his tour of the state with a visit to Kings Mountain Friday morning.