As lawmakers work on a balanced deal of spending cuts and revenue increases to avoid the coming fiscal cliff, another prominent Republican is publicly rejecting Grover Norquist’s no-tax pledge. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) told a local television station in Georgia on Wednesday that he will no longer support the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to never vote for any tax increases under any circumstances.
Admitting the need for higher revenue, Chambliss — who is part of a small group of senators working on a deal to reduce the debt — said, “I’m willing to do the right thing and let the political consequences take care of themselves”:
“I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge,” Chambliss says. “If we do it his way then we’ll continue in debt, and I just have a disagreement with him about that.” … Now Chambliss says he wants to do what it takes to right the U.S. fiscal ship, even if that means findings ways to raise revenue, which Norquist strongly opposes.
Does Chambliss think Norquist will hold the anti-tax pledge against him during his next re-election bid in 2014? Yes.
“But I don’t worry about that because I care too much about my country. I care a lot more about it than I do Grover Norquist,” Chambliss says.
Before the 2012 election, Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform boasted that 279 Congressional incumbents — and another 286 challengers — signed its pledge.
But as Democrats fought back against anti-tax zealotry, many voters reacted positively, rejecting the pledge and its adherents, and telling pollsters that they supported higher taxes on the richest Americans.
As a result, 16 incumbent Republicans and one incumbent Senator who signed Norquist’s pledge lost on election night. In total, at least 56 Republican House incumbents or candidates who signed the pledge and 24 Republican Senators or hopefuls lost.
Norquist responded on CNN: “If he wants to change his mind and become a tax increaser so we don’t have to reform government, he needs to have that conversation with the people of Georgia.”