Without a bipartisan agreement this summer to reduce the federal deficit and raise the debt limit, the economy could suffer a horrendous blow, leaders of both parties say. If that happens, some will point fingers at a bearded, slightly disheveled man who’s barely known outside political circles in Washington.

For two decades, Grover Norquist has been the driving force in pushing the Republican Party toward an ever-more rigid position of opposing any tax increase, of any kind, at any time. He has been so successful that some GOP officials fear they’ve let Norquist squeeze them into a corner where they’ll be unable to declare victory even if they win the great majority of their budget demands in negotiations with congressional Democrats and President Obama.

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