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It is generally accepted that the most powerful man in the world is the President of the United States. After all, he controls the largest military in the world and holds the highest office in the greatest superpower. However, one could argue that at this time in history the most powerful man in the world isn’t even an elected official, but instead, a lobbyist. I’ll admit that it may sound a little crazy. But consider for a moment that real power is money and when it comes to matters of the budget, the President has little more than veto power. It’s the Congress who controls the purse strings and unfortunately this lobbyist controls 95% of the Republicans in Congress.  

So who is this Svengali-like lobbyist? His name is Grover Norquist and besides being a lobbyist, he is a conservative activist, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and founder of Americans for Tax Reform. Most importantly, he is the promoter of the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” which was signed by 95% of all Republican Congressmen and all but one of the 2012 Republican presidential candidates. The pledge basically demands the pledgers oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rate for individuals and business; and to oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates. That might not sound like such a bad idea in of itself, but the fact that 95% of our Republican leaders signed a pledge to follow a lobbyist is a little unnerving. 

What power does he hold over them that they willingly pledge their obedience to him, even if it threatens the country’s economic stability?This pledge leaves no room for compromise and is greatly responsible for the unprecedented gridlock. As we all know, the President want’s to let the Bush tax cuts expire for the wealthy. If the Republicans were to agree to that, it would certainly help reduce the budget deficit but would go against their pledge. They have a choice; compromise with the President, or keep their pledge to Grover. Their decision will inevitably tell us who has more clout with them, the President of The United States or a lobbyist. Personally, I ‘m rooting that they side with our President because we can’t risk another stalemate like the one that  led to last years downgrading of  America’s credit rating. If our leaders can’t come together to bridge the upcoming fiscal cliff we are surely headed for a more severe economic recession.

I am not a politician nor am I a pundit. I am an artist. So I created the painting “Who The Hell Is Grover Norquist?” (shown above) to inspire people to find out more about how a lobbyist can control a whole political party and what that means for the rest of us.

-Michael D’Antuono

Michael D’Antuono has been called “one of the world’s most controversial artists” by the UK’s ‘American’ magazine. Before becoming a fine artist, he created award-winning advertising campaigns and had a successful career as an illustrator. His artwork has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. 

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