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.

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

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. Lee Russ

    Could someone at CNN tell me why Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform is described merely as a "conservative group?" ATR is the extreme of the extreme. And the pledge is as extreme as it gets. The candidates who sign that pledge are abdicating their responsibility as elected officials.

    The innocuous descriptions of ATR, the no new taxes ever pledge, and the politicians who kowtow to Norquist do not give readers the information they need to make real sense of the story, or of what's going on in Washington.

    November 23, 2012 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  2. Wise1Speak


    Quote from Grover Norquist:
    "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".

    Political Translation of Quote:
    Because you chose not to abide by my personal tax pledge that I (Norquist) made up, we will find a Republican Tea Party candidate to challenge you in the Georgia GOP Senatorial Primaries in 2014.

    November 23, 2012 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  3. LegalizeReason

    Amercans need to write to theri Senators and Member of Congress and demand that they denounce any pledge that they have made to a private organization or individual. This weale is a menace to democracy.

    November 23, 2012 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  4. TLobb

    Get with the program GOP. You cant spend billions of dollars on wars and pay for it by lowering taxes. This isn't just Obama's debt its yours too. You cant erase it solely with budget cuts.

    November 23, 2012 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |

    Grover,..get lost,'re a nobody,..not elected, not appointed,..just a self declared monarch,..with a bunch of blind, idiotic followers

    November 23, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  6. Randy, San Francisco

    Nordquist represents the extreme worst of the GOP/Tea Party. He is a bully and fraud. Not being an elected official, he is accountable to no one. Yet, GOP/Tea Party politicians who signed the tax pledge have allowed this man to hold the country hostage.

    November 23, 2012 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  7. Barbara

    Why is ANYONE even listening to Grover Norquist? Did anyone elect him to ANYthing? If not, then let him be relegated to the OpEd page of the local papers where he belongs like any OTHER American who wants to voice an opinion. Sorry Grover... you may be a gazillionaire but... you're just not all that special AND, you appear to be wasting a lot of money for your messages are largely falling on deaf ears. Give it up. Maybe next time....

    November 24, 2012 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  8. Gary

    Norquist is a scumbag who's only looking to line his own pocket.He should be tried for treason.

    November 24, 2012 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  9. larry5

    Politicians should be outed for breaking campaign promises. Just because Obama routinely breaks promises does not mean that it's okay. If the news media reported the news instead of writing the news this kind of activity would be tracked. In the mean time politicians know that people are too stupid to know or care and they can do what they like, again typified by Obama himself. As long as politicians can make promises and there is no follow up this behavior will continue. They know that free stuff is more important than freedom for enough people to keep them in business. That way they can break promises and make outrageous statements like "tax the rich" and "with Obamacare you can keep your Doctor and your rates will go down". Any pledge made by a politician that wants to keep his job in Washington and his committee assignments and perks is worth less than the price of a cup of hot water.

    November 24, 2012 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  10. JHA in Texas

    Not one person in the United States "voted for" Grover Norvquist to dictate to duly elected Congressmen how to shape our US Government laws, fiscal policy or tax policy. How did the GOP ever let one man accumulate the power & money to threaten each & everyone of their GOP Congressmen's political career. Where does Norvquist get all his financial support from? Who are these individual financial backers that supply the funds that allows Norvquist to put the political squeeze on our elected representatives???? I admire the courage shown by GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss by saying "NO" to Norvquist threats of ending his political career, hopefully he is blazing a trail for his fellow GOP Congressmen, all our Congressmen. Do the right thing for our entire country, is never the wrong thing.

    November 24, 2012 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  11. migeli

    There's something a little strange about this Norquist guy.I think he should be tried and convicted of treason.And what about this Cantor guy?Does he work for Israel or the United States.I think he should be tried and convicted of treason.

    November 24, 2012 12:35 am at 12:35 am |

    The FIRST pledge should be to the American people. So if they signed it they should be defeated. You people still don't get it!!!!
    But you will.

    November 24, 2012 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  13. Logic N LA

    No member of Congress can make a binding pledge other than the oath of office they take. Grover should crawl back into his cave and leave elected officials alone.

    November 24, 2012 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  14. JPNAmerican

    If it's true that he only needs to answer to the people of Georgia, does that mean you won't be spending millions of dollars to smear him as much as possible to elect someone that will do your bidding?

    November 24, 2012 02:03 am at 2:03 am |
  15. Bill, NY

    A lobbyist holding the country via politicians hostage to some stupid tax pledge? No compromise, pretty soon no us. Are you sure we are not living on Bizzaro Earth?

    November 24, 2012 02:13 am at 2:13 am |
  16. enuff

    Who is this guy and why does he think he can command such power over politicians that he can call for their demise and believe it will be delivered? He is a wanna-be and has power only as long as people give it to him. I certainly did not elect him to any post, so he does NOT speak for me.

    November 24, 2012 02:40 am at 2:40 am |
  17. Daniel

    CNN, Americans careless about his pledge, it would be nice if you could stop turning back to him every time. Haven't we heard enough about his pledge. Congressional leaders have a pledge for their constituents, why don't you go to their respective districts and report as opposed to treating Mr. Norquist as if he is some kind of god.

    Your reporting is become disinteresting by the day.

    November 24, 2012 03:31 am at 3:31 am |
  18. James

    This pledge, or any other pledge other than the pledge to uphold the Constitution, seems un-American. If it is the best thing for our nation to do something, a pledge should not stand in the way. Mr. Norquist was not elected to those seats, and such pledges seem short sighted. Both Reagan and H.W. Bush raised taxes because the circumstances of the times called for it.

    November 24, 2012 04:15 am at 4:15 am |
  19. Barbra K

    Mr.Norquist sounds like he could well be a candidate for EGYPT. Do it my way or go to he Supreme Court and I'll tell them they can't overrule me. How long does he expect his so called pledge to hold up? According to an article in Marketwatch Bush didn't respect matters of a fiscal nature and MR. Cheyney planned a war with Iraq, unnecessarily, without raising taxes to pay for the war. But, Mr.Norquist-the economist-can't see past his nose. I see it this way,play hardnose on this matter and House of Representatives will change next election.

    November 24, 2012 04:22 am at 4:22 am |
  20. craig

    The GOP is starting to implode, and it's going to be fun to watch. The few moderates that are left are trying to find a leader so they can start doing the things the American people expect them to do...compromise, make progress, and improve the country. They've figured out that blind obedience to a rigid ideology isn't all that different than the Taliban, and equally productive for a functional society. There's going to be many more, although probably not enough, joining Chambliss in the coming days. The only other option is for the GOP to become completely irrelevant, and a few of them will finally figure out what the electorate told them in November. The rest will continue to do "that math that you tell yourself to make things seem better."

    November 24, 2012 04:48 am at 4:48 am |
  21. Sam

    The "pledge" is not constitutional. Taxes are. I applaud Sen. Chambliss. He will may become a martyr for this.

    November 24, 2012 05:16 am at 5:16 am |
  22. James Klimaski

    Why is Obama negotiating with Boehner when it is clear to Grover Norquist that he is in charge of the Republican agenda? Those Republicans in Congress were elected with his money, they should do his bidding. Norquist speaks the agenda of the rich and if Chambliss or some other Republican doesn't follow that line of greed religiously, then they are to be condemned to hell in the next election.Everyone should understand that the rich own this country, democracy be damned.

    November 24, 2012 05:46 am at 5:46 am |
  23. Jack in Florida

    Why does this man wield such power over the Republicans?? You do what is BEST for the COUNTRY, not your party. That is what has happened since 2010. The Republicans main goal was to make Obama a one term president. They put their agenda before the good of this country. Well, the American people have spoken and it is time to stop playing games and realize that Obama is the President and for you to get to work regarding the country's business!!!!

    November 24, 2012 06:04 am at 6:04 am |
  24. Marry

    Grover Norquist might be criticized now because it is just too obvious that his stand on taxes holds no merits. But, he is only a (unelected) "side-kick" – not “important”! He is just the “PERSONIFICATION” of Republican thinking and obstruction to all and everything that would “endanger” their convictions! More important, do take a look at WHO Sen. Saxby Chambliss really is. He ranks up with the worst of the worst of Republicans, a “teapublican” before we even heard of them. Almost typical at that – no military service during Vietnam (he had something with his knee – probably from kneeling too much...) and on social issues he is close to “Akin”. He run a campaign in 2002 against Max Cleland branding the 3 x amputee Vietnam Vet as "un-American" in a way that even top Republicans called "beyond offensive"!

    The question is really how do these "people" get ELECTED! It is the responsibility of voters to do their research on these candidates and check the record what they DO/DID; not what they SAY! In today’s world that should not be so difficult anymore! If the voter knew and still votes for “that” it would be “offensive” and detrimental to the country as well!

    November 24, 2012 06:35 am at 6:35 am |
  25. Larry Love

    Who care about the little peep queek Norquist. Him and Karl Rove are history. He is just worried that his ridiculous pledge will not work any more, and he's going out of business for good.

    November 24, 2012 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
1 2 3