The anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, fresh off a victory in the no-tax-extensions California budget deal, was on Stephen Colbert last night. Norquist is a major player in state houses around the country and in Congress, having signed on many GOP legislators to his group’s “Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” which binds them to a policy of never voting for a tax hike. Break the pledge, Norquist promises, and swift political retribution is sure to follow.

During the California budget debate, Norquist and Jerry Brown got into a back-and-forth over Norquist’s contention that even allowing tax extensions to come up for a popular vote would be breaking the pledge signed by all but a handful of California GOP lawmakers.

At the end of the interview, Colbert poses this hypothetical situation:

Terrorists have kidnapped all of our grandmothers. They’ve got them in a subterraneean borough, and they’ve all been slathered with honey, and the terrorists are going to release fire ants who will bite our grandmothers to death. Their only demand is that we increase the marginal tax rate on the top 2% of Americans. Do we increase the tax rate or do we let our grandmothers die by ant bite?

Norquist’s response:

I think we console ourselves with the fact that we have pictures and memories.

I’m not entirely certain he was joking…



Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks writes mostly on film for KQED Arts. He is also an online editor and writer for KQED's daily news blog, News Fix. Jon is a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S.

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