Several influential Republicans are saying that they will disavow the anti-tax-hike pledge they signed at the urging of conservative activist Grover Norquist. GOP leaders, including House Speaker John Boehner, have said they recognize that increasing revenue will have to be part of a deficit reduction deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff of automatic tax raises and spending cuts due to hit Jan. 1. "I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge," says Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), a member of the moderate Gang of Six that tried to negotiate a grand bargain on the debt last year. Norquist says that some Republicans are having "impure thoughts" on taxes, but they won't dare renounce their commitment not to vote for tax hikes. If Republicans really break their no-new-taxes promise, will the decision come back to haunt them?
This move could backfire: The negotiations required to avoid the fiscal cliff could "end in disaster" for some of these Republican lawmakers, says John Fund at National Review. If those who signed the pledge, promoted by Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, consent to "tax increases that will weaken the economy" in combination with "spending cuts that never materialize," they'll be "vulnerable to public outrage." They should brace for primary challenges in 2014.
"Transparency: Walk the walk, Mr. President"
Actually, abandoning Norquist is smart: Tea Party lawmakers "rose to power on a promise to deal with deficits and debt," says John Avlon at CNN, but their "anti-tax absolutism" makes it impossible for them to get anything done. This "post-election outbreak of pragmatism" will free the GOP from the cult of Norquist. Once they "break the fever of groupthink," reasonable Republicans will be able to do what they were elected to do, which is to actually govern and get a debt deal done.
"Republicans wisely break with Grover Norquist"
It's too early to assume anybody's really ditching Grover: Republicans might really be "willing to junk the Grover Norquist pledge," says Thomas Fitzgerald at The Philadelphia Inquirer. Or they may be dropping hints as "a trial balloon." The traditional "hard-edged anti-tax stand has benefited the Republican Party politically" for decades, and it's anybody's guess how many GOP lawmakers would be willing to "actually vote for a concrete revenue raising proposal" with Norquist and his grassroots supporters screaming "No!" from the sidelines.
"More GOP lawmakers say 'It's over, Grover'"