A top Washington D.C. Republican came to Lexington Monday with an optimistic message for local conservatives.
"One of the things that has changed is that we have learned to react to the spending rather than waiting for the tax increases," said Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform.
Speaking to an energized crowd in a Fifth Third Bank conference room downtown, Norquist stressed the importance of focusing on the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 rather than getting sidetracked on animosity for President Barack Obama.
"The most important thing we can do is take the House back in 2010," Norquist said. "Nothing else comes close."
He added that he thinks this is a very realistic goal.
"There are 40 seats Republicans need to pick up and there are 49 Democrats in districts carried by McCain," he said.
That would include the Sixth Congressional district of central Kentucky.
"I think anyone who voted for stimulus, the budget, and cap and trade has a target on his back and you can beat him on those votes alone," Norquist said.
Congressman Ben Chandler voted for all three.
Norquist pointed out that the first Obama tax increase earlier this year ended the longest period in American history without a federal tax increase. The streak spanned fifteen years. He said resisting the suggestion that Republicans move to the left on their policy positions is indispensable to bouncing back in the next election.
"The fact that they want us to drop the tax issue when Obama spent so many millions promising that he wouldn't raise taxes demonstrates how important the tax issue is," Norquist said.
Healthcare reform looks to be the hottest issue for 2009. Norquist dismissed the Obama plan simply.
"I've never gotten one of them to sit still long enough to explain to me why they need $1 trillion to $3 trillion more for a healthcare system that is going to be cheaper," Norquist said.
He also made an interesting point about the global cooling/global warming/climate change controversy. He told a story about Al Gore coming to one of the Americans for Tax Reform meetings. He asked Gore which of his policy suggestions related to the climate would not apply if he suddenly learned that man-made climate change was not real. Gore responded that he wouldn't change any of them. Norquist said this makes it clear that arguing the status of the climate is a waste of time.
Norquist encouraged attendees who have grown frustrated by the Republican party to increase their involvement.
"If you want to change the Republican party, join the Republican party," Norquist said. "It's not important that people on our side of the aisle agree on everything. We just need to agree that the government should leave us alone."