Debt panel co-chief rips Grover Norquist: ‘What kind of a nut is this guy?’

The former co-chairman of President Obama’s debt commission ripped anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist Wednesday, blaming him for standing in the way of a solution to the deficit.

“What kind of a nut is this guy?” former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson said of Norquist. 

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He told an audience at Wednesday’s Peter G. Peterson Foundation fiscal summit that Norquist was "some guy just wandering around the swamps taking a pledge from people when America was flush, and then pushing people like Orrin Hatch off the cliff as if he were a commie."

Simpson has said similar things to Norquist’s face.  

Norquist has been a vocal critic of the debt-reduction plan crafted by the Obama commission. Simpson and Erskine Bowles, a former chief of staff for President Clinton, led the panel.

In addition to cutting spending and reforming entitlements, the debt commission’s plan used revenue from ending tax deductions to reduce the deficit. Norquist said that would violate his taxpayer pledge, a document signed by most Republicans that rules out tax increases. 

Norquist pressured Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to leave the Gang of Six talks that were designed to turn the debt commission plan into law. Coburn’s exit from the talks last week was a major blow to the effort.

New York Times columnist David Brooks told the audience that GOP senators have told him the Coburn-Norquist spat appeared to have resulted in a Norquist victory. Brooks said the result is that the GOP is more firmly tied to its no-new taxes pledge.

Democrats have said that without new revenue, a grand bargain on reducing the deficit will not happen.