Sen. Chambliss brings tax pledge debate outside beltway
December 1st, 2012
05:11 PM ET
1 year 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. trex

    .........SMART Republican see that .....OVER 70% ....of American voters WANT A COMBINATION of smart CUTS, and HIGHER TAXES on those that have been given soooooo many breaks,................ the VERY WEALTHY.

    December 1, 2012 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  2. Gyrogearloose

    It's been pretty clear for a while that a combination of spending cuts and tax increases are in our future.
    I don't care about prior promises not to raise taxes. I want our country fixed, and I want it done through a process of compromise and collaboration.

    Chambliss is on the right track. Norquist is rapidly becoming irrelevant.

    December 1, 2012 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  3. john

    Time to give norquist some tough love.All members of congress and the senate sign a resolution to give him the goodbye ticket he so richly deserves. support each other during reelection raiseing money and poof grover is a non entity.yeah.

    December 1, 2012 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  4. viranka

    stupid GOP congress you pledged when you were elected to congress. pledging to any other affiliate especially a lobbyist should be AUTOMATIC DISMISSAL FROM OFFICE!!!

    December 1, 2012 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  5. Squigman

    It's what the country needs and wants. King Grover. He must be awfully small of stature. He's compensating for something, by thinking he can run a nation with a pledge signed by politicians. They more than likely signed it just to get rid of him. King Grover. Long live the king.

    December 1, 2012 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  6. Scott

    Norquist is a dinosaur

    December 1, 2012 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  7. Fred M.

    From The Onion:

    "Congressman Torn Between Meaningless Pledge To Anti-Tax Zealot, Well-Being Of Nation"

    December 1, 2012 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  8. trex

    Wanna know what Nobel Prize Economists say ..."CREATES" jobs.......?........................DEMAND....................and DEMAND ONLY. When people buy stuff, esspecially American made, they CREATE DEMAND AND CREATE JOBS...........Continuing tax cuts for the ultra rich DOES NOT CREATE DEMAND. The rich buys FRENCH wine, not California. The rich buy BMW, Porche, Mercedes, .....and NOT GM or Ford. Come on people,....WAKE UP. The gop HAS BEEN BOUGHT BY THE 2% including Adeilson, Murdock (Fake News owner), and the Koch brothers.

    December 1, 2012 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  9. Lyndom

    Chambliss is spot on country first norquist and the gop has refuse to cooperate in these nogotiations and are trying to use there only chip left dont budge president the rates are going up and thats it the people have spoken

    December 1, 2012 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  10. Thomas McElroy

    I suggest that any senator, republican or democrat, who thinks signing a stinking pledge is more important than our country should be arrested, sent to Guantanamo, tortured until they realize the error of their ways and then shot for treason. All on TV. Nothing personal... it's just that at this point in the game everyone should realize how important this is and that bullshit of partisan politics needs to stop. If John Boehner and McConnell needs to be taken down then so be it.

    December 1, 2012 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  11. Chuck Hendrix

    I live in Georgia. I have opposed Chambliss because of his pledge and inflexibility. He has never voted in favor of anything that might help to make things better but has always toed the party line. I am glad to see he is now going to serve those that elected him instead of a political party. As such, I will support him in the future. Thank You Sen. Chambliss for standing up for the people of our state finally.

    December 1, 2012 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  12. Mike who actually reads books

    Grover Norquist should be tried for treason. I am not trying to flame or be reactionary. I am actually giving a factual solution to the problem.

    December 1, 2012 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  13. Carol Johnson

    Norquist has assumed the title of ayatoallah and the most of the republicans are dumb enough to listen to him but forget they took an oath to the American people to do represent those who vote for them.
    AYATOALLAH Norquist has only votef for at the most three of them, his representative and the two senators in the state he has registered to vote in so there is only three that is possible to owe him anything and they would have to all be republicans and if does not have a republican representative and two republicans senators from his state not even three have signed his pledge.

    December 1, 2012 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  14. james

    Democrats and GOPers need to do what's right for the country. Forget about maintaining power. those things will sort themselves out. There will be plenty of reasons for people to vote one way or another. Better for that to happen in a country not hobbled by obstructionist politics.

    December 1, 2012 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  15. Lyndon

    The president will keep his word and the country can finally start moveing forward full steam ahead with innovation new development in fuel technlogy cleaner fuel . And so forth a vision for the future and not trickle down economics it dosent work .

    December 1, 2012 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  16. Carol Johnson

    I have seen scum on lakes in my opinion that is better for America than people like Norquist and his backers!!!

    December 1, 2012 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  17. Name

    If we want to lower things then lets start with politicians salaries, they voted to raise their salaries a couple of years ago.how about this no politician can make no more than 50k a year by doing this lets see whose really in it for their country

    December 1, 2012 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  18. Sooner79

    If Grover Norquist wants to reduce taxes, he can run for office and vote his conscience. Otherwise he can take his pledges and stuff them.

    December 1, 2012 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  19. Kevin

    wow...a republican who realizes that he's working for his constituents and the country, not for Grover Norquist. Perhaps others who signed this "pledge" will realize this too.

    December 1, 2012 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  20. NavaJohn

    Make no doubt, I'm very happy to see people come around and stop supporting that pledge. But I think it's more about voter pressure and the media showing how dumb and un-American that pledge was than a sudden feeling that their constituents are more important.

    December 1, 2012 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  21. Xchairman

    Some where in the constitution it's writen that the people should pay taxes for common defence. Why are the self proclaimed petriots (republican) don't want to pay tax. But they prefare to go to war.

    December 1, 2012 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  22. larry5

    This is Obama's power play. It has nothing to do with solving the nation's problems. Obama needs an enemy to operate and the GOP serves that purpose.

    December 1, 2012 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  23. SkyKing

    Certainly, as applicable to physical civil infrastructure, the user fees we pay to maintain the systems that support our economy, and to remodel them as necessary to meet the foreseeable demands, must be adjusted for inflation, not necessarily raised in real terms, or inflation adjusted dollars. Unfortunately, since our elected leaders have failed to act responsibly for 20 years on highways and 26 years on waterways, an real increase is necessary now to make the $100 million repairs that could have been made for only $10 million if we had just kept ourselves even with inflation and the growth of our infrastructure systems. As several studies have shown, the cost of the failure to act is far greater than the cost to act to sustain our beloved nation.

    December 1, 2012 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  24. Mac Qurashi

    Senator Chambliss has shown that when we, the voters, elect a representative we expect him or her to serve the interest of the voters not some high paid egotistical lobbyist. The 20 years old pledge is the very reason why we have piled up this huge deficit. Since the then every Republican Administration left increasing deficits as they cut taxes for the wealthy and expanded the government. The administration of Bush II was the most irresonsible when it waged two wars and cut taxes at the same time. A real leader would have instituted a surtax to pay for the war without much objection because the patriotism that prevailed. Unless the Republicans withdraw from an illegal pledge their party should be called the Groverists because the Republican Party I belonged has changed into a cold hearted scrooge.

    December 1, 2012 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  25. Bush Warcrimes

    Republicans started two unfunded wars with no plans of paying them off. No bid DoD contracts for campaign contributors and pass the bill onto the next generation. They should have taken a balanced budget pledge and we would't be in this mess.

    December 1, 2012 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
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