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GOP Lawmakers Break “No New Taxes” Pledge

For the record, I am not a big fan of signing pledges. It may sound grand to include oneself in opposing this or that policy by signing a pledge, but extenuating circumstances can, and do, arise. This is aTaxes fact of life and it has a a habit of raising its ugly head, when you least need it to appear. As we are seeing in Washington, Grover Norquist’s “no new tax” pledge is getting in the way of any possible compromise that may be brokered between the Republicans and Democrats on how to avoid the fiscal cliff we are facing at the beginning of 2013.

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A couple of quick points I want to make. First, I am firmly against raising taxes. Far too often, raising taxes is used as the first line of defense against any fiscal calamity our country may be facing. It should be the last thing in our arsenal. Second, I do believe we need to consider all our options, in any efforts we make to find a compromise and reduce or eliminate the chances we have of going off the fiscal cliff. That just makes sense, both as a member of either of the two political parties involved, and as someone who wants to see America turn itself away from fiscal disaster.

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Several GOP lawmakers are beginning to realize a compromise must be reached and they are publicly breaking with Grover Norquist and saying they will consider breaking the tax pledge, if conditions are right and a compromise can be reached. Three of the most high-profile Republicans are Senators Saxby Chambliss and Lindsey Graham and Representative Peter King.

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(Fox News) New York Rep. Peter King and Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday they would break the pledge and accept tax changes to generate more revenue to curb the trillion-dollar federal deficit.

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Their statements followed a similar one Thursday by Georgia Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss.

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“I agree entirely with Saxby Chambliss,” King said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “A pledge you signed 20 years ago, 18 years ago, is for that Congress. …  The world has changed, and the economic situation is different.”

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The New York congressman said he was opposed to tax increases but that “everything should be on the table” when President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid try to broker a deal.

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“I’m not going to prejudge it, and I’m just saying we should not be taking ironclad positions,” King added. “I have faith that John Boehner can put together a good package.”

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In theory, I agree with what these Republicans are saying. We do live in a different environment, both fiscally and politically. Anyone who believes we can change our path without some form of compromise is deluding themselves. That said, I want to quote more of what Senator Lindsey Graham has been saying, some of which is troubling to me.

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Graham has suggested earlier that he would be open to changes in taxes but repeated Sunday only if Democrats are willing to cut federal spending by scaling back entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security.

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“I will violate the pledge, long story short, for the good of the country, only if Democrats will do entitlement reform,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.”

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He also said the only pledge that should be made when the country is trillions in debt is to “avoid becoming Greece.”

“Republicans should put revenue on the table,” he continued. “We don’t generate enough revenue.”

However, Graham said he agrees with pledge champion Grover Norquist that tax rates should not be increases and instead suggested generating revenue through capping tax deductions.

I agree with everything in the quote, except for where he says we do not generate enough revenue. I wholeheartedly reject the idea that the fiscal troubles we are in are directly related to the federal government not having enough revenue. What we have is a spending problem, not a revenue problem. I believe it is a mistake for us to go into any negotiations with that premise. It puts us at a disadvantage from the start and will make it very difficult to achieve the only thing that is going to fix our fiscal problems, long-term. We have to address our spending problems. A note to Democrats, that means we have to cut spending in real dollars, today. Not over a ten-year period, but today. Raising more revenue now, either by raising taxes or by reforming the tax code, and cutting spending in the future is not my idea of a compromise that the GOP should be interested in.

About LD Jackson

LD Jackson has written 2053 posts in this blog.

Founder and author of the political and news commentary blog Political Realities. I have always loved to write, but never have I felt my writing was more important than in this present day. If I have changed one mind or impressed one American about the direction our country is headed, then I will consider my endeavors a success. I take the tag line on this blog very seriously. Above all else, in search of the truth.

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  • This is very troubling but also not surprising. When the budget or fiscal matters are involved the Republicans on the national level have always been willing to compromise and give the Democrats some of what they want, but in return the Democrats only promise changes or cuts in the future. Ronald Reagan is in his grave and still waiting for the spending cuts promised to him in 1982. I won’t be surprised at all if a deal is made that involves raising taxes in exchange for spending cuts in the years to come, and we all know those cuts will never happen. No wonder we’re $16 trillion in debt.

    • What gets me is how they are coming to the negotiating table and have already given up part of their negotiating power. Admitting that we have a revenue problem, before they even sit down to talk, and especially when it isn’t true, is not a good way to keep their principles. I can’t see anything good coming from this.

  • Bob Hunter

    Simple: Primary these fools and get rid of them. The only way for conservatives to regain control over the GOP is for them to work for it. Complaining you didn’t get the right candidates without willing to work to get those you do want gets you nowhere. We must support true conservatives and subsequently holding them accountable when they get elected.

    • I agree. We have to take more control over the candidates we run for office, starting at the local level and working our way up. That’s why I say any meaningful reform in America will start at the state level.

  • Jim at Conservatives on Fire

    There will be a compromise, Larry. That is a given, in my opinion. We have no heroes among the House Republicans.

    Not to nit pick, but taxes, in the last several decades, have not been the first choice. Borrowing has been the first choice and taxes have been second.

    • You have a point about the borrowing. Both political parties seem to have a penchant for spending money we do not have.

  • Dragonconservative

    The problem is not so much economic as political. The Democrats aren’t caving on any of their proposals. They still want to tax the rich as much as possible. By contrast, high-profile Republican lawmakers ARE caving on the no new taxes pledge. To me, this represents a possible decline of the principles of the Republican party.

    • That’s the problem we always face. Democrats get what they want, with only future promises given to the Republicans. We will never gain ground if we continue on that path.

  • My problem with this is it now appears as if these Republicans only took the pledge for political reasons to help them win election and now that they have won we are seeing how quickly they are willing to discard an election promise.

    • Personally, I believe we have some good, principled people in the GOP. Just not in the leadership. That’s where the real problem lies and I see no way we can rectify the situation, unless the conservatives still remaining in the party stage a revolt.

      • Agreed Larry, there are good people in the GOP but leadership is shunning them at this point. I don’t know what we can do about it other than keep pressuring the leadership to listen to us.

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