The most important factor in deciding whether or not to support a candidate in the Republican primaries of 2010 is whether or not he or she has taken the "pledge" — the commitment not to vote for higher taxes.
Americans for Tax Reform, headed by Grover Norquist, is collecting signatures from candidates on this no-holds-barred pledge.
It is critical because the pressure to lock in the high spending levels of the Obama Administration by raising taxes will be intense. Global economists, the bond market, editorial writers, and foreign countries will all weigh in that we must raise taxes. But to do so would be to make permanent the high level spending Obama enacted in 2009-10.
Now the president has even suggested adding a European-style VAT to the income tax so that we can achieve Euro tax levels while hiding the tax by burying it in the purchase price.
Which brings us to Tom Campbell. The former congressman is competing in a three-way Republican primary with Carly Fiorina and Chuck DeVore. The other two have taken the ATR pledge but Campbell has refused to do so.
We hate to be single issue voters, but this single issue is a deal breaker for us. Once a candidate takes the pledge, it probably has about the same odds of being kept as wedding vows. But if he refuses up front, we know where he is headed!
The entire future of our economic recovery hinges on whether we raise taxes in 2011 or not. A tax hike will transform the V-shaped recovery into a W — down, up and down and up again.
More importantly, if we raise the federal, state, and local governments' share of our GDP from the 30 percent level that prevailed before Obama took office to the 40 percent level that it will hit once healthcare is implemented, we will join France, Germany, and the UK in the land of European Socialists.
But if we refuse to raise taxes and force the spending back down to pre-Obama levels, we will have turned away from that path and embraced free market economics again.
Those are the stakes and while Fiorina and DeVore are willing to stand on the right side, Campbell is not. So vote for either Fiorina or DeVore as you wish, but not for Campbell!
Go to DickMorris.com to see who has signed the No Tax Pledge.
After I told Tom Campbell that I was going to criticize him for not taking the No Tax Pledge, he sent me this note:
Thank you for your e-mail asking about the ATR pledge.
Let me start by saying I greatly respect Grover and his good work, and I completely agree with you that America's economy can be made healthy only by restoring fiscal integrity to Congress.
While I don't sign pledges, I respectfully ask that you consider this:
As a conservative free-market economist who studied under Milton Friedman, I believe very strongly that higher taxes would be disastrous to America's economic recovery, and are not the way to eliminate the federal deficit. We must cut spending — and that is precisely what I did when I served in Congress. My record on this is very clear, and stands in sharp contrast to Senator Boxer's. This is why the National Taxpayers Union Foundation consistently gave me high marks, and twice named me the "most frugal" for doing more than any other member of Congress to cut spending and protect tax dollars.
In a very real sense, this record, backed by my reputation for personal integrity, is my pledge to voters, and I would certainly never do anything to tarnish it.
I understand that you'll do what you believe to be right. But I also know we share the same goal of retiring Senator Boxer — and without doubt, I am the strongest Republican candidate who can achieve this.
Please call me at 650-849-5256 if you'd like to discuss this further. I would welcome your call and look forward to meeting you sometime soon.
And I replied with this note:
I think this is one pledge that you should sign. It is the central issue of 2011 and when voters who are concerned about it find out that two of the three candidates signed up and one didn't, they have to come to a conclusion that is adverse to the one who did not sign.
Pledges are an appropriate way for candidates to signal their policies and intentions in this era of cynicism about political figures.
If you win the primary, I will do everything I can to help you get elected. And I will do quite a lot! But, in the meantime, I am afraid that I must part ways with you on this issue.