Olympia Snowe: Norquist Pledge Could Send Nation Over The Fiscal Cliff

On Friday morning, outgoing Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) attributed the GOP’s reluctance to reach a balanced deal that could avert the so-called fiscal cliff to Grover Norquist’s pledge, which prevents Republicans from supporting a tax increase. President Obama has called on lawmakers to pass a package that maintains the Bush tax cuts for families earning less than $250,000 a year, though Republicans have thus far ignored his call and unsuccessfully attempted to advance a much more modest measure that preserved tax breaks for incomes under a million dollars.

Appearing on CNN’s Starting Point, Snowe — who backs a deal that would maintain current tax rates for families earning $400,000 and less — called on Republicans and Democrats to compromise, but noted that the no-tax pledge may be holding them back:

ALI VELSHI (HOST): Talk to me about this. I certainly don’t want to demonize people who ideologically believe taxes shouldn’t go up on anyone or don’t want taxes to go up because they think it’s damaging to the economy. I think there are a lot of Americans who are quite prepared to demonize people who will not change their view or cast a vote because it offends Grover Norquist. What role do the pledges play in our inability to compromise?

SNOWE: Well, I’m certain it does play a role. I’ve never signed these pledges because my obligation to the people who elected me and that’s the way it should be for each member of Congress, because times change. The circumstances change, you have to address the issue at hand. It is important to have extending the tax cuts for especially the middle income but secondly to put spending cuts on the table.

Watch it:

With four days left until the end of the year, President Obama will host the congressional leaders in the Oval Office today in hopes of reaching a compromise. The House and Senate are back in session, but House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) refuses to take an up or down vote on a Senate-passed bill extending tax cuts to Americans earning less than $250,000 and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is now demanding spending cuts to pay for an extension to the federal unemployment insurance program that expires at the end of the year. The Washington Post reports that McConnell “for the first time was engaged directly in talks with the White House. He signaled an interest in cutting a deal.”


Yet Norquist is still urging lawmakers to stand by his hardline position, tweeting, “We had an election Boehner was elected speaker. Now lame duck obama should get over it (Also 30 GOP governors).”