In 1985, Grover Norquist founded American for Tax Reform with the goal of advocating for flatter tax rates in the United States. Since then, he's taken his crusade to ever-increasing levels of absurdity in dogmatically opposing every revenue measure to curb the federal deficit. Norquist's “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” has been influential in re-writing the Republican Party's ideology to avoid compromise and decry revenue-for-spending-cuts deals. As recently as the day before the November 2012 elections, Mr. Norquist's “Pledge” had been signed by 238 House Republicans and 41 Senate Republicans, giving his uncompromising rhetoric an outright majority in the House and the ability to filibuster in the Senate. However, it appears as though Mr. Norquist's empire is quickly collapsing in recent days as the Republican Party seems to have had a fairly significant shift in tax policy.
The incombing Congress will see less that 218 House Republicans having signed the pledge (placing Mr. Norquist finally in the minority) and the number of Senate Republicans signed onto the peldge dropped to 39. Further, GOP Senators Chambliss and Graham (the former having been a staunch Conservative in the ranks while the latter has been known to occasionally break rank with the party leadership) have come out forecfully against Norquist's “read my lips” position in the face of a fiscal cliff and economic calamity (their statements are after the “flip”.) Clearly, more than two Republican Senators will need to speak up against the Party's trot towards the extreme, yet that two prominent Republicans would publicly condemn someone who has up until now been considered the standard-bearer of Republican economic ideology is in and of itself sign of a changing wind.
Rep. Peter King (R-NY), a safely-entrenched Republican from Long Island, came out Today calling Norquist's “No new taxes” pledge about as relevant to today's fiscal situation as re-attacking Japan for World War II would be.
The list of other GOP Statesmen to have disavowed Norquist is growing. Fmr. President George H. W. Bush, fmr. Florida Governor Jeb Bush, fmr. Utah Governor and China Ambassador Jon Huntsman, Iowa Representative Steve King and numerous others have all bucked the pledge.
Clearly, one should be fairly cautious in assuming that this implies that a Grand Bargain that equally balances spending cuts with needed tax hikes on wealthier Americans will be priority #1 for John Boehner and House Republicans, but it nonetheless is oh so sweet to see Grover Norquist's prized crusade being abandoned by his own Party.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on ABC's “This Week”
I would violate the Pledge for the good of the Country – if Democrats will do entitlement reform. I think Grover is wrong when it comes to capping deductions and buying down the debt… What I would say to Grover Norquist is that Sequester would destroy the United States military. It must be replaced.
Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) on WMAZ
I care more about my country that I do a 20-year old pledge. If we do it [Norquist]'s way, we'll continue on in debt, and I just have a disagreement about that… I don't worry about [a Primary challenge] because I care too much about my Country. I care a lot more about it than I do Grover Norquist.