Sen. Saxby Chambliss has dumped his long-time pledge to conservative lobbyist Grover Norquist not to support tax increases, opening up the possibility he may go along with raising new revenues to reduce the nation's debt and avert the so-called fiscal cliff at the end of year.
"I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge," the Georgia Republican told a local television station in Macon Thursday, referring to the Taxpayer Protection Pledge he signed when he first ran for the Senate 20 years ago.
The pledge was penned by Norquist, an influential Washington lobbyist who heads the conservative group Americans for Tax Reform. The pledge promising not to raise taxes no matter what has been signed at one time or another by nearly every Republican member of Congress.
But Chambliss told 13WMAZ
, "If we do it [Norquist's] way then we'll continue in debt, and I just have a disagreement with him about that."
Chambliss told the station he's willing to do what's necessary to reduce the federal debt and help get the nation back a sound economic footing, even if that means finding news sources of revenue.
As part of his effort in the past to hold down tax increases, Norquist has often used the financial power of his group to help elect Republican members to Congress. He's also used to help defeat candidates who won't sign his pledge or who renege on their no-tax promise.
Asked in the WMAZ interview if he thought Norquist would come after him in 2014 when the senator is up for re-election, Chambliss said yes.
But he added, "I don't worry about that because I care too much about my country. I care a lot more about it than I do Grover Norquist."
"I'm willing to do the right thing and let the political consequences take care of themselves," the senator said.
Chambliss is among a bipartisan group of senators, known as the Gang of Six, trying to work out a reasonable budget compromise aimed at reducing the nation's debt and heading off some $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts scheduled to begin in January.
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