HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania — Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist roused the crowd Friday afternoon at the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference, a gathering of the state’s conservatives, by saying that Republicans who voted for tax increases “are rat heads in a Coke bottle.”
But one Pennsylvania lawmaker who is a regular speaker at the PLC isn’t a fan of Norquist’s hard-line anti-tax ideology. State Rep. John Bear (R), who spoke shortly after Norquist, has not signed Norquist’s “Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” which requires lawmakers to never vote for tax increases of any kind, for any reason. “I never sign tax pledges,” Bear told ThinkProgress:
WALDRON: I noticed, when Grover Norquist was speaking, they circulated a list of state legislators and senators that had signed his pledge and I didn’t see your name on it.
BEAR: I never sign tax pledges. I just don’t. … I don’t believe in signing tax pledges and giving that authority to any outside group. The constituents of my district elected me. Do I want to tax increases? No. But I have to do what’s right and what’s fair at the time given the circumstances. I just feel like these all-or-nothing tax pledges, it just doesn’t, I just don’t believe in that, so I haven’t signed it.
Norquist’s death grip on the Republican Party has seemingly weakened of late. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) signed the pledge when he first ran for Congress but said he doesn’t “care to be associated with it” anymore. Former presidential candidate Jon Huntsman refused to sign it during his campaign, and Rep. Tim Johnson (R-IL) blasted it as “disingenuous and irresponsible” earlier this month. Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR), meanwhile, disavowed the pledge by becoming the first House Republican to propose legislation that would levy a surtax on millionaires.