November 23rd, 2012
08:26 PM ET
10 years ago

Norquist responds to senator's break with no-tax pledge

(CNN) – Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist said the latest Republican to suggest a break with a pledge to oppose any tax increase is a promise broken to his constituents, not him.

"If he wants to change his mind and become a tax increaser so we don't have to reform government, he needs to have that conversation with the people of Georgia," said Norquist appearing on CNN's "The Situation Room" Friday of Sen. Saxby Chambliss' recent move away from the no-tax pledge.

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Two-term Sen. Chambliss, a Republican from Georgia, said Wednesday that Norquist's pledge stands in the way of finding common ground on reducing the debt.

"I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge," Chambliss told Georgia television station WMAZ, a CNN affiliate. "If we do it his way, then we'll continue in debt and I just have a disagreement with him about that."

Some Republicans move away from no-tax pledge

Norquist leads the conservative group Americans for Tax Reform and has been successful in getting a majority of Republican lawmakers in Washington to sign a pledge promising not to support any effort to raise taxes. Recently, however, with the looming fiscal crisis, a number of freshman conservatives have broken with the pledge.

Norquist's comments come as congressional leaders and President Barack Obama stretch to reach a deal to reduce the nation's deficit before the end of year deadline. Barring a deal, a series of mandatory tax hikes and federal spending cuts will go into place, known as the 'fiscal cliff.'

 The two sides split on a means to raise revenue to tame the nation's debt: Democrats push for letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire for wealthier Americans while Republicans have advocated for closing loopholes and tax deductions.

Chambliss and others' break from the pledge has some pointing to a divergence within the party away from the constraints of a written promise not to support tax increases.

Norquist rejected the notion pointing to a number of Republican leaders, like House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell, who he says will keep their commitment to reduce federal spending and oppose increases in tax rates during 'fiscal cliff' talks, adding that the deficit negotiations should be televised on C-SPAN instead of behind closed doors for the sake of transparency.

Norquist also said the pledge belongs to the candidates who have signed it, including some Democrats.

"Mr. Chandler from Kentucky was elected, Ben Chandler, taking the pledge. He broke the pledge and he was defeated in the last election. People were unhappy that he pretended to be a conservative democrat, and he lost his election," Norquist said.

"(Ben) Nelson, another Democrat, a senator from Nebraska, also got elected taking the pledge," he continued attributing Nelson's choice not to run for re-election to a lack of support after voting for Obamacare.

CNN's Dana Davidsen, Ashley Killough and Tom Cohen contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • Grover Norquist • Saxby Chambliss
soundoff (72 Responses)
  1. Willard

    Traitor! You belong in the jail!

    November 23, 2012 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  2. rick

    grover norquist was not elected to hold any office. he is person of no importance other than what stupid republicans give him. he is nothing but an unamerican fool and toady for the koch brothers and their ilk.

    November 23, 2012 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  3. Tony in Maine

    Go away Grover. You bother me.

    November 23, 2012 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  4. rs

    Republicans need to decide who they pledge allegiance to- the United States, or Grover Norquist. If the latter- they need to resign or go to jail. America first!

    November 23, 2012 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  5. MarieMD

    Shouldn't norquist, rove and that husted in Ohio be in jail for treason?

    November 23, 2012 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  6. Frank Cardenas

    Norquist needs to stop scaring republicans. Reagan increased taxes as well as George Bush, Sr. and both were great presidents.

    November 23, 2012 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  7. KO

    Note to Grover: You lost on November 6. YOU LOST.

    November 23, 2012 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  8. Ralphe S.

    Simple answers (no new taxes) to a complex problem (a government's fiscal malaise) are symptoms of a simple mind reacting to a complex environment.

    November 23, 2012 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  9. Mary Ann

    Good Riddance,the teaparty,is quickly becoming a thing of the past.

    November 23, 2012 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  10. Martha in CF

    Norquist will be going away very soon as his so called pledge will become null and void. I always thought that Congress was elected by their constituents and that is who they represent, not Norquist......

    November 23, 2012 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  11. katahdin

    Grover Norquist is the worst American since Benedict Arnold, an employee of the unpatriotic billionaire class who won't be happy until they control all the wealth in the country.

    November 23, 2012 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  12. Blue

    Who in the hell does Norquist think that he is? He is a nothing, so why does he have this hold over the elected GOP Congress? There is something wrong with the elected GOP Congress if they will let someone like Norquist have this control and power over them. They need to get it back and kick Norquist to the curb.

    November 23, 2012 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  13. Shawn

    Bravo to Senator Chambliss! The "pledge" that matters is their oath of office. I don't see how they can take a pledge that supersedes that. Being a responsible office-holder may require them to raise taxes, how can they sign off on something that limits their ability to do their duty. DOJ should investigate this "pledge" business.

    November 23, 2012 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  14. anonoymous

    Sounds like the politicans are finally listening to the people. Nobody voted for grover so his opinion is only as valuable as one vote. Money doesnt decide an election the people do. We the people have spoken!

    November 23, 2012 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  15. Cam Spurgeon

    If this lobbyist thinks that pledghes to him ahead of country lets get on with 2014/ This kind of thinking has to go and I say Saxby is doing exactly the right thing for the country.Grover has no power except that which is bought and paid for and he needs to be vanquished from the ranks of GOP party.

    November 23, 2012 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  16. marty

    Mr. Norquist is much too humble when referring to' the pledge' belonging to the signer. This pledge has been his life's work and, as the high priced lobbyist that he is, he will do anything to prevent it's demise, even if it means to work against the election of the non-signer.

    November 23, 2012 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  17. jake

    isn't it treasonous to pledge to something other than to uphold the constitution? just sayin’……..

    November 23, 2012 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  18. DENNA

    LOL Norbie, just wait. The GOP has finally gotten wind of the fact that the voters matter, NOT YOU. The emperor has no clothes. Yes, Norbie, the voters gave the GOP a cold hard slap in the face to let them know who is boss and it isn't you.

    November 23, 2012 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  19. J BRYANT

    Grover Norquist needs to realize that the United States is moving forward and if he continues to show his Republican friends how to be defeated by putting his irresponsible pledge to their heads then so be it. Enough All Ready, if you want to make a pledge then make it to legislate together with Republicans and Democrats to help the country, if not then you need to be voted out of office. Its time to end the Grover Norquist strangle hold. Talk to Sen. Saxby Chambliss if you want to know how to end this ridiculous pledge and want to help ALL the United States of America!

    November 23, 2012 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  20. MikeTexoma

    John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are examples of Republican leaders standing in the way of change. We know that in politics as in everything else, the one thing that never changes is that things are in a constant state of flux. If you are transfixed and cannot respond, sooner, rather than later, you get run over.

    November 23, 2012 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  21. MikeTexoma

    And Grover Norquist is going to get them run over.

    November 23, 2012 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  22. Steve Powers

    Norquist ran all over the CNN interviewer. He was never asked about the wisdom of sticking to a rigid idea (no tax increase)...and was allowed to deny he (Norquist) wrote the pledge. Also Norquist is a paid lobbyist and he should be labeled such. He was not elected King. Weak interview.

    November 23, 2012 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  23. Bob

    Dude. You can't control true statesmen. It may have sounded good 20 years ago, but a pledge that is not in the best interest of the country now can, and should, be pushed aside for the greater good.

    November 23, 2012 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  24. CAWinMD

    Leaving aside the fact that Norquist is an idiot, what he is saying doesn't make any sense. Maybe, if America had no debt, it would make some sort of sense to hold the line on taxes. But for cryin' out loud we're 16 trillion in the hole. It is mathematically impossible to cut your way out of that hole - you have to bring in more revenue, and that's through taxes. If economic growth adds to the take - great! But anybody who counts on that as a policy response is a fool.

    November 23, 2012 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  25. Dan5404

    I saw this ridiculous man try to wiggle out of the fact that he is losing a lot of support. He is one of the big problems in moving the country forward. He is only a lobbyist and has no legal standing to force a Congressman to do anything. I hope they make him a distant bad memory.

    November 23, 2012 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
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