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Bessent: Republicans back away from Grover Norquist tax pledge in hopeful sign

Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax

Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, is shown in this file photo. (Nov. 16, 2011) Photo Credit: AP

Anti-tax radical Grover Norquist is losing his mojo. A few of the Congressional Republicans who signed a pledge to never raise taxes pushed by Norquist’s group, Americans for Tax Reform, are having second thoughts.

The list of those who’ve repudiated the pledge in recent days includes Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). Sen. Saxby Chambliss, (R-Ga.), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). More of the 219 representatives and 39 senators in the next Congress who’ve signed the pledge should follow their lead. 

The absolutist pledge makes compromise impossible, and that makes it the enemy of democratic government and deficit reduction. Federal tax revenue is at a six decade low as a percentage of gross domestic product. Annual budget deficits have topped $1 trillion for four years, and the national debt is $16.3 trillion. It will take spending cuts and additional revenue to dig out of that deep hole.

Abandoning the pledge means a few Republicans are at least willing to entertain the notion of a deal that includes tax hikes. “I care more about my country than I do about a 20 year-old pledge,” Chambliss reportedly told a Georgia TV station. “If we do it (Norquist’s) way, then we’ll continue in debt.”

But rhetorically hanging Norquist out to dry is the easy part. When the time comes to vote on a balanced deficit reduction plan, we’ll see if they mean what they say.

Pictured above: Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, is shown in this file photo. (Nov. 16, 2011)
 

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