A rebellion is mounting against Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge

House Republicans are starting to work up the nerve to say that they are no longer bound by the pledge they once signed to oppose any measure that would increase taxes, and they have come up with an interesting explanation: They signed the pledge years ago and have been reelected several times since then without re-signing.

The “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” is the brainchild of Grover Norquist of “American’s For Tax Reform” and has become one of the tools that built Norquist into the most lnfluential of no-new-tax advocates. (The pledge specifies that you can’t raise net taxes by doing away with deductions, credits or other loopholes.) Two Democrats and all but six Republicans in the U.S. House have signed the pledge at some point. Norquist’s position is that once you have signed, you can never take it back.

But the Hill quotes several members who take the position that they signed the pledge years ago and felt bound by it for the term in which they signed it, but that they have since been re-elected without re-signing and therefore are not bound by it.

In fact, several members say that they have called ATR and asked to have their names taken off the list of pledge signers, but ATR refuses and Norquist threatens political retaliation against any pledge signer who ever supports a net increase in taxes.

The language of the pledge itself does not address whether it is binding for a single term or forever. Norquist thinks it obvious that the answer is forever. Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio), who said he last signed the pledge in 1994 thinks it’s just as obvious that the pledge expires if you don’t re-sign it and get reelected.

“My driver’s license expires. The milk in my refrigerator expires. My gym membership expires, and I find the [ATR] website to be a little deceptive,” LaTourette said.

Norquist immediately dismissed the claim, which was echoed by several other House Republicans.

“Does that even pass the laugh test?” Norquist told The Hill. “A promise not to do something doesn’t have a time limit.

“I haven’t even had junior state legislators pull that crap,” Norquist added.

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Comments (12)

  1. Submitted by chuck holtman on 11/09/2011 - 09:30 am.

    Clearly it all depends on whether the congresspersons had their fingers crossed and said “backsies” when they signed the pledge. Nice to have small children deciding the fate of civilization.

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 11/09/2011 - 09:32 am.

    Oddly enough, when I Google “divinity,” Grover Norquist’s name doesn’t come up right away – or ever. The same thing happens when I Google “President of the United States,” or even “elected official.”

    Mr. Norquist is certainly entitled to his viewpoint, but his influence over government policy is, shall we say, “disproportionate.” It’s about time – actually, it’s past time – that legislators, of both parties, but especially Republicans, began to think in terms of national (and state) welfare rather than ideological purity.

  3. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/09/2011 - 09:33 am.

    We’re all waiting for the influx of tax increase measures from these newly enlightened GOP members with bated breath….pffft.

  4. Submitted by James Hamilton on 11/09/2011 - 10:27 am.

    While I believe the pledge is a bit of idiocy, attempts to evade it once signed remind me of my grandfather’s repudiation of the abstinence pledge (alcohol) he took as a boy: “It was only until I was an adult.”

  5. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/09/2011 - 10:46 am.

    I don’t know why the Democrats haven’t made more hay out of this public relations fiasco. The only pledge that elected officials are supposed to be bound to is the one they make when they take office- to represent their constituents, and uphold the constitution. This idea of making all kinds of pledges to special interests that take precedence over the actual job, prior to getting elected, is a promise of corruption. None of these guys got elected by promising to represent Norquist when they got into office, they all promised to represent their constituents, even the ones who didn’t vote for them. Yet another rhetorical hammer left on the bench by Democrats.

  6. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 11/09/2011 - 10:58 am.

    Mr Swift-

    Based on levy referendums of yesterday, you’ll only have to wait until the elections of next year for an increase in taxes.

    Hopefully you will survive until then despite your (a)bated breath.

  7. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 11/09/2011 - 11:49 am.

    Paul #5, I can’t think of another sentence I’ve uttered more in the past decade than “I don’t know why the Democrats haven’t made more hay out of…..”

  8. Submitted by Lance Groth on 11/09/2011 - 12:17 pm.

    Another in a series of hopeful signs that the tide is beginning to turn against the far right madness. These things go in cycles, after all, and it seems that a lot of folks – including some republicans, apparently – have had enough of the right wing agenda.

    Righties suffered a series of defeats at the ballot box yesterday, including places like Mississippi and Arizona. Doesn’t bode well for our right wing friends in 2012. When repub elected officials get a sense that the wind is shifting, they’ll drop the pledge nonsense quickly enough. And Norquist will find that he’s not so powerful, after all.

    Any idiot who signs a loyalty pledge to a non-elected non-offical, rather than the nation and the people s/he is supposed to serve, doesn’t deserve to be elected in the first place.

  9. Submitted by Jim Roth on 11/09/2011 - 12:29 pm.

    These silly pledges remind me of things kids do. I think elected officials should only take one pledge, the oath of office.

  10. Submitted by Arito Moerair on 11/09/2011 - 12:57 pm.

    @Paul Udstrand

    The Dems don’t do anything with it because they have proved themselves exceedingly weak and ineffectual politicians. The whole of the 2009/2010 US congress session demonstrated that. Their horrific performance on the debt ceiling crisis this past summer helped cement that view.

    They’re just bad politicians.

  11. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/09/2011 - 05:04 pm.

    How about they just drop the waffling? “I did sign the pledge, but it no longer seems like a good idea. In order to fulfill my oath of office and my obligations to my constituents, I will now state that I am no longer bound by that pledge (if, in fact, I ever was). I realize I have loyalties that transcend campaign rhetoric.”

    That would, of course, require maturity. Never mind, then.

  12. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 11/10/2011 - 07:55 am.

    You know, if it weren’t for the politicians, the economy would have a fighting chance. Raise revenue by eliminating tax expenditures and letting the Bush tax cuts expire. Reform the big three entitlements, medicare, medicaid and social security. Both sides need to give.

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