Ed Crane, through his creation of the Cato Institute and his many speeches, made the idea of being a libertarian both intellectually and politically respectable — and is in line with the thinking of most of the American Founders. Grover Norquist is the master of explaining the need for limited government and how to organize victory. Messrs. Laffer, Crane and Norquist are not only exceptionally smart and talented, but are also three of the funniest men alive. The endless good humor they exhibit goes far in making their message seem far less threatening to those who are afraid of loosening the binding apron strings of government.
As a personal aside, I have been very lucky to have known Art Laffer, Ed Crane, and Grover Norquist for most of our adult lives. Ed and I have a “Committee to End Death and Taxes” — which has the added benefit of having no official meetings or dues.
In his work for tax reform, Grover Norquist developed many, often fun, ways of restraining and even downsizing the government leviathan. Grover is an exceptionally skilled and witty writer and speaker, so he is never boring. For example, in his new book “End the IRS Before It Ends Us: How to Restore a Low‐Tax, High Growth, Wealthy America,” Grover reminds us of a short and amusing history of the growth of government, taxes and regulation, and the reasons for it. Many of us may not be aware that we are still paying a “temporary” phone tax that was passed in 1898 to fund the Spanish‐American War. Only 680,800 (rich) people had phones at the time. As Mr. Norquist explains: “The nasty Spanish had attacked us (or something) and we certainly had to defend ourselves by conquering Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines and Guam and Saipan. It was national defense. It was patriotic. And wars against ‘empires’ as weak as the Spanish don’t last very long this would be a temporary tax. Promise. A tax on the rich (check). A hidden tax (check). A tax for war (check). A temporary tax (check).” A tax still being paid by the 95 percent of Americans who have phones.
Grover Norquist has been around long enough to know not to present just one solution (which would never be adopted) to the problem. Instead, he lays out many constructive things that both elected officials and ordinary citizens can do. Grover is the perfect example of how one citizen can make a difference. Thirty years ago, he created the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which candidates for political office are asked to sign. Almost all Republican candidates do sign it, and most stick with it once elected, which has kept the Republicans in the Congress from voting for a tax increase for decades. It is easily demonstrated that federal taxes are lower than they would have been if it had not been for Grover.
Grover also created “The Leave Us Alone Coalition,” with the simple insight that most religious and social conservatives, taxpayer protection groups, the Second Amendment (gun rights) folks, small‐business people, libertarians and economic conservatives, despite many differences, all agree on wanting less government in their lives. The coalition has been so effective in bringing together disparate groups in a common cause that weekly “Grover meetings” have now been formed in many states and foreign countries.