Listen To A GOP Congressman Flip On Raising Taxes In 67 Seconds Because Of The Norquist Pledge

Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA)

WASHINGTON, DC — If one doubted the power of lobbyist Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) provided a sterling example Tuesday.

ThinkProgress spoke with the Georgia Republican today on Capitol Hill about the fiscal cliff negotiations. When we asked about a possible deal that let tax cuts for the wealthy expire, Gingrey was initially open to the idea: “I hate to make a commitment on anything.” He didn’t want to rule anything out before consulting with constituents in his district.

But once reminded that he had signed a pledge to never raise taxes, Gingrey abruptly shifted his position and re-iterated that he would abide by the Norquist pledge when it came time to vote. “I don’t take that pledge lightly, so I won’t say that I don’t feel bound by it.”

KEYES: Do you think you could accept anything that lets the tax cuts expire for the top 1 or 2 % of folks?

GINGREY: I want to wait and see what’s presented to me. I hate to make a commitment on anything. The people of my district probably don’t know about this last offer. I want to hear from them first. I’ll be doing a lot of calling over the next few days into the district.

KEYES: You wouldn’t feel bound, for instance, by the Norquist pledge to never raise taxes at any point?

GINGREY: Well, uh, up until this current second, I’ve felt very much bound by that pledge I made in 2002. I don’t take that pledge lightly, so I won’t say that I don’t feel bound by it.

KEYES: So still on board with the pledge then?

GINGREY: Pretty much on board with the pledge!

Listen to it:

Though some in the media have opined that Norquist’s pledge doesn’t actually hold any sway because Republicans all oppose taxes anyway, this episode shows how the pledge affects their ability to compromise. Un-pledged, Gingrey is a man who might be willing to deal in good faith. Pledged, he has virtually no option but to adhere to Norquist’s strict parameters.