That Republicans have begun to split from radical anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and his pledge to never raise taxes takes “political courage,” a top Democratic senator told ThinkProgress Tuesday.
In the last week, Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham (SC), Saxby Chambliss (GA), and Bob Corker (TN) have all distanced themselves from Norquist’s pledge. Though that is an “encouraging” sign for debt negotiations, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said the two sides still had “a long way to go” to reach a deal before automatic spending cuts and tax increases take effect at the end of the year:
[Norquist is] a real bully boy when it comes to Republican primaries. When my Senate Republican colleagues step up and say our first obligation is to this country and not to Mr. Norquist or a piece of paper, it takes a lot of political courage. We still have a long way to go, but the fact that they’re willing to split from him, to run the risk of his opposition in the future, speaks very well of their commitment to our country.
Republicans who have thus far split with Norquist haven’t come far on taxes, and they still oppose raising marginal tax rates on the wealthiest Americans. Instead, they’ve endorsed raising revenue through the closure of tax loopholes and the elimination of tax breaks, and many, like Graham, have demanded reforms to entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security in exchange, even as Democrats have already offered such reforms in recent years. The Republican “compromise,” at this point, looks more like the proposals failed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney offered during the 2012 election.