Tags: grover | norquist | pledge | defectors

Norquist: Tax Pledge Wafflers Will Return to the Fold

Monday, 26 Nov 2012 12:07 PM

By Stephen Feller

Grover Norquist on Monday dismissed recent statements from prominent Republicans that they would be willing to vote for tax increases if Democrats make the right compromises in fiscal cliff negotiations.

He said on CNN’s “Starting Point” that they said the same thing during the contentious debate about raising the debt ceiling after the 2010 mid-term elections but did not actually vote to do so.

He believes Republicans will circle back and defend the pledge.

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“No Republican has voted for a tax increase,” Norquist said. “We’ve got some people discussing impure thoughts on national television.”

Since Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., said last Wednesday in an interview with the Macon, Ga.-based WMAZ that he would deviate from the American’s For Tax Reform pledge because “times have changed,” several other high profile members of Congress have followed suit with similar statements.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said on Sunday during network interviews that they would be willing to break the pledge as well, which has caused Norquist to defend the promise not to vote for tax increases in recent days.

Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker also said he was not obligated to Norquist’s no-tax pledge.

“I was just elected,” he said on CBS earlier. “The only thing I’m honoring is the oath I take when I serve when I’m sworn in this January.”

But Norquist believes he won’t have many defectors.

“They all said that two years ago when we were arguing over the debt ceiling limit,” Norquist said. “And during the debt ceiling, we cut spending, we didn’t raise taxes. So other Republicans didn’t listen to Peter King or these others.”

According to the Minnesota Post, however, the list of Republicans willing to drop the pledge has been growing since the election - and even started before it.

Republican Scott Rigell of Virginia won back his seat after repudiating the pledge during his campaign this year, and Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., also have said they would vote for tax increases.

"To be beholden to some pledge when the future of the country is at stake is kind of silly," said Rep. Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio, in 2011. LaTourette opted not to run for reelection to the seat he held since 1994, though the Post reported he was not expected to lose if he had.

Norquist told Graham that he would never get back from Democrats what he expects in exchange for tax increases, arguing that it was like agreeing to accept a “pink unicorn.”

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House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., who also signed the pledge when he was elected to office, has not said whether he would vote for tax increases. He said on MSNBC on Monday morning, however, that solving the problems causing budget issues was far more important than worrying about Norquist.

“A lot has been said about this pledge,” Cantor said. “I will tell you when I go to the constituents that re-elected me, it is not about that pledge, it really is about trying to solve problems. And as we know, this election we just went through is very much about, number one, what are we going to do to reclaim a momentum in this economy? How do we get us back to that? And, two, how do you solve a problem?”

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