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. Evergreen

    When you sign a pledge not to increase taxes dont vote for wars that explode the federal budget. We have to pay off these two wars and our obligations to our Vets.

    November 24, 2012 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  2. CanadaONE

    to not secure tax revenue America will soon be owned by China

    do think that you only have to reduce government expeditures to get out of debt is BAD math

    does anybody know when the GOP is going to join the 21st century?

    November 24, 2012 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  3. robert

    Perhaps a movement to try Norquist for treason and terrorism should be initiated – he is as dangerous to this country as Osama Bin laden and Al Quaida was if not more

    November 24, 2012 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  4. Chris Hawley

    The Tail has been Wagging the Dog for too long in this Country.

    November 24, 2012 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  5. Sam

    Norquist is a traitor to the people. This guy would love to bring down the USA. He has no allegiances to the USA.

    November 24, 2012 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  6. Rick McDaniel

    Norquist is misguided. He simply recognizes that our government is hugely wasteful, and doesn't feel we should be encouraging that wastefulness, by giving the government more money to waste. He has a valid point, in that regard. He just went about things, in the wrong way.

    November 24, 2012 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  7. wgf

    As a lobbyist for a single parochial interest Grover Norquist wields more power than any elected representative in the House or Senate. This is not the way our government is supposed to work. I'm glad some GOP representatives are beginning to realize this. For the GOP, this is the first step on the road back to redemption. For Grover Norquist, it is the first step on the road to his innevitable irrelevance.

    November 24, 2012 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  8. Dave Harris

    This guy's conceit that he somehow leads the witless morons who are destroying the Republican party and are trying to destroy the country is laughable, but not wholly incorrect. It's up to the morons themselves to decide if they want to continue following him and reject the leaders they elected. It is truly the clueless leading the clueless.

    November 24, 2012 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  9. Grundoon

    Avarice and greed, straight up!

    November 24, 2012 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  10. Donkey Party

    Any person who signs the pledge is not fit to serve the United States government.

    November 24, 2012 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  11. fedup

    Somebody tell Grover to either shut up and go home or run for office.

    November 24, 2012 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  12. Anthony

    Norquist wants to cut taxes and create a revenue shortfall, so that we need to "reform government." What Norquist means by reforming government is to cut social programs, also known as entitlements, because Republicans don't like social programs. They get in the way of tax cuts. Of course, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are the biggest social programs/entitlements in the federal budget. What Republicans like Norquist want to do is to create a problem, the deficit, so that we need to implement their solution, which is to cut social programs/entitlements.

    November 24, 2012 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  13. Ray E. (Georgia)

    We had another Senator, Max Cleland that forgot who elected him. He was a one term senator. Chambless won his last election in a runoff. Fiscal Responsibility is sorely needed in Washington. Continuing to give away the store is and has been a recipie for disaster. That is why we are where we are today. The over 16 Trillion Dollar Federal Debt is a glaring failure of the Liberal Left. Hard Choices need to be made.

    November 24, 2012 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  14. bbfarm

    Good for Chambliss!! I've mostly voted Democrat including this time, but I'm really looking for a candidate who is moderate and willing to comprise. We all live in this country and we all want whoever gets in to consider us all when making policies. Thats the very reason this country is so great. Times change and people needs to change as well. If people draw a line in the sand and are unwilling to comprise to find solutions, we'll become just like some of the others countries we read about with all the internal fighting. We all should be working together!

    November 24, 2012 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  15. Partisian Ron

    The GOP can only rid themselfs of this and put America first by moving away from the pledge in mass.
    Their and pledge should be to the United States of America. Norquist is running a blackmail operation.

    November 24, 2012 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  16. Just a thought

    Norquist is a toad, a wart on the fabric of this country. Since when is paying taxes, even more taxes un-american? The Afghan and Iraq wars were the FIRST TIME IN AMERICAN HISTORY, WE WEREN'T ASKED TO PAY HIGHER TAXES !

    An tea party fool should know that before complaining about the increase in taxes on the rich. Those angry imbeciles need to understand ITS TIME TO PAY THE BAR TAB

    November 24, 2012 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  17. Ideas, Ideals, not ideologies

    These politicians are accountable only to their consituencies and no one else. Grover mentioned Boehner and McConnell. He fails to mention that they are negotiating with a weaker hand than they had last year or even before the election. If Obama does nothing He still gets what he wants and Republicans will still get blamed by the rich and the poor. At this point, they can take a bad deal or a worse deal. One thing they can't do is they can't dictate the terms of the deal.

    November 24, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  18. Just a thought

    I pay 29% payroll taxes and I support an increase in taxes. Where are the fools that say we shouldn't pay more taxes? And we will be able to recognize a complete moron that says "the federal government just wastes money". While that may be true in the aggregate, THESE ARE BILLS WE CREATED DURING THE AFGHAN AND IRAQ WARS. If you idiot tea fools didn't want to pay it, you should have stopped those wars when Lil Dubya fooled you into them

    November 24, 2012 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  19. Midwestmatt

    Grover is an unrealistic, ignorant, and unelected official of nothing.

    His world is run by rich masters who want to live and operate in the best country in the world while refusing to pay for any of it. They're living off the teats of the middle class that actually work while making sure their fortunes are immune to the real world.

    Norquist is not the boss in DC and neither are his ill informed followers. Raise taxes and cut spending and show Norquist the door.

    November 24, 2012 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  20. steve

    Norquest is a lap dog for the super rich, he doesnt care about the middle class or the poor they are just a number to lower. All americans should stop listening to him, why are they? Because he has plenty of cash to blow, one lie after another, no facts, just twisted lies. All of which end up screwing over the middle class and poor, wake up people, together we stand This guy has no cloths on, he is all bull, just look at who follows him? The tea party? Really? Are they a bunch of losers or what? Get real. dump this clown and start acting like adults, get the facts and base decisions on them not some super rich lap dog.

    November 24, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  21. W.G.

    Grover Norquist is a Muslim Comnvert , his wife is a palistinian from gaza with ties to Hamas . I took the advice of a CNN Blogger and googled this info . and found this out . He endorsed a "Mr. Suhail Khan" a fundraiser for the
    "Muslim Brotherhood in U.S.". What better way to fight a war in a country you consider hostile to your religion
    than to sow divisevness in their Gov. That what Mr. Norquist has done . Republicans played right into his hands
    with their greediness and stinginess Any Congressman going along with Mr. Norquist´s pledge and not remembering
    the pledge he or she took FIRST to protect and guard our Country is a TRAITOR !

    November 24, 2012 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  22. Puddin

    Before signing any "Norquist Pledge," anyone with a level head would realize a change of events might occur to cause you to regret signing such a pledge. As has happened in this country after GWB was given the presidency by the Supreme Court. I admire Chambliss for having such a level head on his shoulders and saying he's sorry, but he has to reject this pledge. By the way, in the words of George H.W. Bush; "who in the hell is Grover Norquist?" Which rock did the emerge from, and who is he to keep this country from moving forward? He sure can't be accused of having a level head.

    November 24, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
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