Wisconsin GOP Senate Candidate Doesn’t Understand Radical Anti-Tax Pledge He Signed

Former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R-WI)

Former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R-WI)

Anti-tax lobbyist Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform and author of a radical anti-tax pledge that hundreds of Republican lawmakers have signed, was again the subject of a heated exchange at a Senate debate Thursday night, when Wisconsin GOP Senate candidate Tommy Thompson denied that his support for the Norquist pledge means he can’t support tax increases on the wealthy.

Thompson’s Democratic opponent, Rep. Tammy Baldwin, challenged Thompson for signing the pledge during the debate. Thompson called Baldwin’s claim that the pledge opposes tax increases on the wealthy “a plain falsehood,” and said that Baldwin had “misstated” the pledge in her description:

BALDWIN: Too many members of Congress, and my opponent is included in this, have taken a pledge to a Washington DC lobbyist by the name of Grover Norquist whereby they’ve sworn that they will not ever ask those with the most privilege to do more, to do their fair share —

THOMPSON: That’s just, that’s just plain falsehood.

BALDWIN: You signed the Grover Norquist pledge.

THOMPSON: That’s just a falsehood. You just misstated it.

BALDWIN: You signed the Grover Norquist pledge.

THOMPSON: And you signed the progressive tax bill.

Watch it:

Thompson has indeed signed the pledge, according to Americans for Tax Reform’s web site, and it is hardly a falsehood that Norquist’s pledge prohibits raising taxes on the wealthy. The pledge states clearly that its signers should “oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rate for individuals and business,” and that “any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits” should also be opposed unless they are matched by further reductions in tax rates. Norquist has been clear that pledge-signers should oppose tax increases for anyone, the wealthy included.

Thompson isn’t the first Republican to get challenged on the pledge during Senate debates. Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake (R), a candidate for his state’s open Senate seat, promised not to sign the Norquist pledge during his debate, even though he has already signed it.