What’s Happening With Grover Norquist and his Tax Pledge?

Posted on December 6, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

By Scott Orr

US-TAX REFORM-NORQUISTGrover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, is the author of the Taxpayer’s Protection Pledge which many conservative politicians sign vowing not to raise taxes and not to close loopholes without cutting government spending at the same time.

The vast majority of Republicans in Congress have signed the pledge, making it difficult to sculpt a compromise on taxes. Still, there have been rumblings that some Republicans are willing to go back on their no-new-taxes promise.

Could this be an early signal of the end of the influence of Norquist and his pledge, which has been keeping Republicans from backing tax hikes for almost 30 years?

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that he would violate the pledge “for the good of the country” and others may be similarly inclined. “When you’re $16 trillion in debt, the only pledge we should be making to each other is to avoid becoming Greece,” he said.

Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) added that he believes “everything should be on the table” including tax hikes.  “I’m not going to prejudge it, and I’m just saying we should not be taking ironclad positions,” he said.

And Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), the House majority whip, reportedly told House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) the Republicans should turn their back on Norquist and his pledge and join President Obama and the Democrats in passing an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the 98% of Americans who earn under $250,000.

Norquist has been around Washington for a long time, having founded Americans for Tax Reform in 1985, during the height of Reagan Republicanism. Republican lawmakers have signed the pledge since 1986 and it has contributed to many conflicts over tax policy on Capitol Hill over the years.

One of the most influential voices within conservative circles, Norquist says the pledge is more than a promise to him or to the Americans for Tax Reform, it is a promise to the office holders’ constituents.

In a recent blog on Investors.com, Norquist said the pledge is much more powerful than verbal promises, which in the past have “crumbled like pie crust.”

“The Taxpayer Protection Pledge is public. In writing. Voters don’t have to parse the phrasing or a speech. There are no weasel words in the pledge. It says what it means and it means what it says. No tax increases. No excuses,” Norquist wrote.

He also pointed out that President George H.W. Bush won election on his “read my lips, no new taxes” pledge in 1992.  Four years later, Bush failed in his bid for reelection largely because he broke that pledge, Norquist believes.

Turner GPA is a leading D.C.-based national lobbying and government affairs firm dedicated to delivering cutting edge policy advocacy for the manufacturing, defense, aerospace, health and energy industries. Members of our professional policy team can be reached at (202) 466-2511. We are also on the Web at www.turnergpa.com.

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