Sen. Chambliss brings tax pledge debate outside beltway
December 1st, 2012
05:11 PM ET
2 years ago

Sen. Chambliss brings tax pledge debate outside beltway

(CNN) - Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Georgia, hit back at Grover Norquist's no-tax pledge, saying he doesn't want Washington to "dictate" how he votes and that his commitment is to his constituents.

"I think that you sent me to Washington to think for myself. And I want to vote the way you want me to vote," Chambliss told a group of Republicans in a suburb northwest of Atlanta Saturday, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution report. "I don't want to be dictated to by anybody in Washington as to how I'm going to vote on anything."

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Norquist heads the conservative group Americans for Tax Reform and has been successful over the years in lobbying a strong majority of congressional Republicans to sign his pledge not to raise taxes.

According to Americans for Tax Reform, 39 senators, including Chambliss, and 219 House members entering the next Congress have signed the pledge, but with the looming "fiscal cliff" and the need for compromise to avoid the automatic, end-of-year federal spending cuts and tax increases, an increasing number of conservative lawmakers have distanced themselves from Norquist's pledge.

At the core of the debt and deficit negotiations, Republicans and Democrats split on a means to raise revenue needed to tame the nation's growing debt. Republicans generally favor closing loopholes and reducing tax deductions while Democrats favor raising tax rates on wealthier Americans.

In searching for a solution to avoid the "fiscal cliff," Chambliss joined the band of dissenters last week when he told CNN affiliate WMAZ that he "care(s) more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge."

"When I said I care about my country more than I do about a 20-year-old pledge, that's what I'm talking about," the two-term Georgia senator reiterated Saturday. "Things have changed in 20 years. We didn't owe $17 trillion 20 years ago."

In response to a growing chorus opposing the pledge, Norquist told CNN those who signed but now oppose the agreement are having "impure thoughts," adding that no one who signed has actually broken the pledge yet, though he said he will work to unseat those who do.

Some who signed but now oppose the pledge say the commitment was only good for the congressional term, but Norquist has pushed back, saying the congressmen knew the pledge did not have a time limit.

Bringing the issues closer to home, Chambliss discussed the ethanol tax credit, a $6 billion annual tax break given to oil producers. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that small crowd of Cobb County Republicans cheered when Chambliss suggested an elimination of the tax credit, which is largely unpopular in the South.

"Guess what? You just said you would violate the pledge that I signed. Because by the elimination of a tax credit, if you don't take that money and reduce rates, that's a violation of that pledge," said Chambliss, who is up for reelection in 2014.

CNN's Kevin Bohn and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 • Fiscal Cliff • Grover Norquist • Saxby Chambliss
soundoff (238 Responses)
  1. Tomtomtom

    Anyone who voted for the fiscal cliff 2 yrs ago already voted for a tax increase – effective Jan 1, 2012.

    December 1, 2012 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  2. blue dog

    Common sense returning to GOP, finally.

    December 1, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  3. Chuck

    Way to go, Senator.

    December 1, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  4. Gurgyl

    .......way to go, all GOP guys should be like you. I think we need to cut salaries if congress/senate.

    December 1, 2012 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  5. David

    Wouldn't it be great if all other politicians felt this way? It's time to put the good of the country above ideological differences.

    December 1, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  6. Taskmaster

    In other words his pledge is not worth a cent . His word is worthless as well. No wonder other nations do not trust the U.S. If a man breaks his word on one matter he will break his word on anything. Of course his marriage vows likely mean nothing to him either. His wife needs to hire a good private detective.

    December 1, 2012 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  7. B.

    What in the world took these people sooo long to dump Norquest in the first place ?
    How he was allowed to hijack all of those Congress people is an outrage, the guy is nothing but a low-life lobbyist..

    Now they are suddenly getting Religious about their REAL JOBS,being public servants to the people of this country, Hello... !
    They should put Norquest on the street and get back to work.

    December 1, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  8. Alina77

    Good for him, any truly thoughtful, working senator or Congressmen is appreciated by the US people... and there only few of those...(so appreciate them guys).

    December 1, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  9. XMalakhX

    I like Sen. Chambliss' attitude. Most Americans are willing to take a tax hit to help this country get back on it's feet, politicians should jump on this because that feeling, is rare, and when it happens, you shouldn't hesitate.

    December 1, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  10. Name

    Last time I checked only the voters have the ability to unseat an elected rep or senator. Norquist needs to get a grip on reality and realize We the people run this country and we are fed up with him and other special interest groups dictating how this country should be run.

    December 1, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  11. Jules

    Grover Norquist saying that talking about tax increases is having "impure thoughts" is nuts.

    December 1, 2012 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  12. JohnRJohnson

    The pledge was invented by a paid lobbyist and former associate of convicted felon Abramoff. The only reason that Grover Norquist created the pledge was to enrich himself. It has kept him high profile and bloated his speaking fees.

    December 1, 2012 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  13. CB FL

    I am not a fan of his but it is nice to see someone wit a back bone.

    December 1, 2012 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  14. tony

    Re-election needs trump everything.

    December 1, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  15. Michael

    Country before tea party and Norquist. Excellent jesture. Has anyone seen or heard of CAT SCRATCH FEVER ?? Did he leave the USA or commit hari-cari as promised ??

    December 1, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  16. Sam

    At least one republican who wants to stand and make decisions as a man. Republicans have always been puppets in the hands of a puppet master. I am a middle class republican who thinks for myself. I have voted for democrats the last two elections and will continue do so until the republican party acknowledges that we have educated men and women in this country who can think for themselves.

    December 1, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  17. Willy Nilly

    It's past time to dump Norquist and his pledge. The reason America has run up the 17 trillion is partly because of the pledge and Congress's loyalty to it and Norquist, not to the country as a whole. Yet these minions of Norquist have been elected over and over. Isn't the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? Time to wake up and smell the coffee... Norquist and his buddies have led us down a dark and troubling road.

    December 1, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  18. Lori

    Senator Chambliss' announcement is refreshing in this time of polarization in Washington. He's showing qualities of REAL leadership in the party.....as opposed to just accusing the White House of campaigning! Thank you Senator Chambliss!

    December 1, 2012 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  19. Pete

    I think it is great that fake conservatives like Chambliss and others who signed the pledge, but now are falling all over themselves to fund Obama's wars, massive social programs, and bail outs with tax hikes are exposing themselves for the big government shills that they are. Should we really expect anything less from a guy who championed the bail outs in 2008?

    December 1, 2012 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  20. Bob

    All double talk. The man would steal your wallet in a nano second.

    December 1, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  21. Lori

    Joke of the day: Norquist implies Chambliss is having "impure thoughts" by putting his country first

    December 1, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  22. Boisepoet

    I wish Norquist would choke to death on his own ego...

    December 1, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  23. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    Not what he was saying three weeks ago. I wonder what happened?

    December 1, 2012 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  24. TNPatriot

    Wow, so the good Senator, on December 1, 2012 suggest that the Ethanol Tax Credit (official known as Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC)) should be eliminated. Of course the biggest problem with that gesture by the Senator is the fact that the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) EXPIRED 12/31/2011!!!

    December 1, 2012 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  25. Reaper081087

    Send Grover Norquist and his kinds to the moon! We don't want them here!

    December 1, 2012 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
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