CNBC's Cramer Slams Norquist: You Want to Sacrifice Economy 'On the Cross of Two Percent'

During the panel discussion on Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, CNBC Mad Money host Jim Cramer launched an assault against Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist for holding Republicans to a pledge not to raise taxes: "What this is about is avoiding a recession which is going to happen....You're going to sacrifice that on the cross of two percent. Is that what you want?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Norquist, a fellow panelist, shot back: "I'm supportive of the Republican position, which is we need to have economic growth, not higher taxes. If we grew at four percent a year instead of two percent a year, Reagan levels instead of Obama levels, for one decade we'd net five trillion in additional revenue. That would pay down the debt that Obama has run up with the Solyndra stimulus stuff."

Earlier in the discussion, moderator David Gregory set the tone for attacking Norqusit: "You have been very much front and center in the debate. Here are some of the headlines that – The New York Times really stands out, 'Is Grover finally over?'....The bottom line is, are you over? Is this tax fight over?"

Norquist rejected the notion:

Well, actually, that was last week's news. The President and Mr. Geithner have really changed the direction here. Because there were a few people, including the senator you just had on [Bob Corker], who were seduced into thinking, well, maybe there's a – you know, I'll – I'll have a small, teeny tax increase and we'll have real reform and we'll move forward....And what the Obama administration and Geithner says is we're having massive tax increases and we're having zero reforms.

Later, Cramer ranted: "Well, he's talking about seducing, that the Republicans have been seduced. You talk about impure thoughts. This is not a pornographic debate, Grover."

Cramer repeatedly took cheap shots at Norquist throughout the Sunday show. At one point he suggested the European debt crisis was due to a lack of tax hikes: "It didn't work that well in Greece. Not so positive in Spain. These are countries that were deeply committed to your position. Absolutely no tax increases."

Norquist explained: "No, massive spending increases, I mean, those states were bankrupted by their overspending and their regulation-" Cramer argued: "Well, no one wanted to pay for it."

At another moment, Cramer claimed the business community was against Norquist: "I'm finding many Republican CEOs – by the way, most – most CEOs are Republican. They're not on board with you. They're not on board with you because they fear your view. Because they think that you do not favor going – you favor the going over the cliff....That's what they think. They want – they think that you favor it."


Here is a transcript of the December 2 exchange:

11:12AM ET

GREGORY: How about the headlines this week? You have been very much front and center in the debate. Here are some of the headlines that – The New York Times really stands out, "Is Grover finally over?" And then, this –  this is really about the pledge that you introduced that is a pledge between these office holders, Republicans, and the people who have elected them. It's not a pledge to you, as you often point out. The bottom line is, are you over? Is this tax fight over?

NORQUIST: Well, actually, that was last week's news. The President and Mr. Geithner have really changed the direction here. Because there were a few people, including the senator you just had on, who were seduced into thinking, well, maybe there's a – you know, I'll – I'll have a small, teeny tax increase and we'll have real reform and we'll move forward.

GREGORY: You're talking about Corker?

NORQUIST: Corker – and there…

GREGORY: Yeah.

NORQUIST: …there were other – others who said – and, look, Corker wants teeny tax increases and very serious reforms. But you're not gonna that. And what the Obama administration and Geithner says is we're having massive tax increases and we're having zero reforms.

(...)

11:13AM ET

GREGORY: And Jim, get into to this too, because there is still the fundamental question of whether Republicans feel beholden to the position that they cannot raise taxes, even if it's anathema to what they – how they think government out to operate. Is there still an acceptance that taxes have to be raised, and actual tax rates have to be raised?

CRAMER: Well, it has no – it didn't work that well in Greece. Not so positive in Spain. These are countries that were deeply committed to your position. Absolutely no tax increases.

NORQUIST: No, massive spending increases, I mean, those states were bankrupted by their overspending and their regulation-

CRAMER: Well, no one wanted to pay for it.

(...)

11:17AM ET

GREGORY: Jim, what about – one of the things that the President has done, he's going over Congress' head, you know, he's going out and encouraging people to tweet and post on Facebook, you know, "My2K," meaning the 2,000 that they would get in sort of extended tax breaks for – for the middle class. But he's also meeting privately with CEOs. He's got bad relationship with Wall Street and with corporate America generally. He's presented much of this plan. What's the feedback he's getting?

CRAMER: Feedback is there'll be a big recession if you don't get behind him.

GREGORY: Yeah.

CRAMER: I'm finding many Republican CEOs – by the way, most – most CEOs are Republican. They're not on board with you [to Norquist]. They're not on board with you because they fear your view. Because they think that you do not favor going – you favor the going over the cliff.

NORQUIST: Not true.

CRAMER: That's what they think. They want – they think that you favor it.

NORQUIST: Just for the record, since we're on TV, that's silly. If they think that, they shouldn't be CEOs.

CRAMER: Or behind the record, off the record, it doesn't really matter.

NORQUIST: Look.

CRAMER: That's what they think you do.

(...)

11:22AM ET

GREGORY: You just said it, you want to respond more to – to what Grover is saying on the ultimate deal here.

CRAMER: Well, he's talking about seducing, that the Republicans have been seduced. You talk about impure thoughts. This is not a pornographic debate, Grover. What this is about is avoiding a recession which is going to happen. I know you don't want a recession. You don't want people laid off. You're going to sacrifice that on the cross of two percent. Is that what you want?

NORQUIST: No. You have to listen to both what the Republicans are talking about. And again, I'm supportive of the Republican position, which is we need to have economic growth, not higher taxes. If we grew at four percent a year instead of two percent a year, Reagan levels instead of Obama levels, for one decade we'd net five trillion in additional revenue. That would pay down the debt that Obama has run up with the Solyndra stimulus stuff. That is-

CRAMER: Clinton did so much better at the stock market with these rates. The stock market – what a boom that was.

(...)

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC