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.