November 26th, 2012
09:00 AM ET
10 years ago

Norquist says he'll go after pledge-breakers

(CNN) – Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist said Monday that his group, Americans for Tax Reform, would work to unseat Republicans who break their pledge to never vote for higher taxes.

His vow came after prominent GOP lawmakers said over the weekend they would consider breaking the Taxpayer Protection Pledge in order to reach a deal with Democrats and President Barack Obama to avoid tumbling over the fiscal cliff – the combination of sweeping spending cuts and tax increases that would go into effect at the end of the year if negotiators can't reach a deal on reducing the federal debt.

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Norquist said his group would "certainly highlight who has kept their commitment and who hasn't" when it comes time for lawmakers like Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rep. Peter King to run for re-election, though Norquist claimed voters generally decide on their own to oust elected officials who vote to raise taxes.

"Historically the people who lose do so because the people in their state have figured that out," Norquist said on CNN's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien."

On Sunday, Graham and King joined other Republican lawmakers, including Georgia Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss, in publicly breaking from Norquist, whose pledge stipulates signers will "oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses" and will "oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates."

Both Graham and Chambliss will be up for re-election in 2014.

Graham said on ABC he'd be willing to break the pledge if Democrats are willing to help pass spending reforms on government programs like Social Security and Medicare. That combination of revenue and spending cuts is in line with what a majority (52%) of Republicans prefer, according to a CNN/ORC poll out Monday.

"I'm willing to generate revenue," Graham said on ABC. "It's fair to ask my party to put revenue on the table. We're below historic averages."

Norquist shot down Graham's suggestion Monday, saying it was impossible to imagine a situation where Democrats would agree to Graham's conditions.

"He lists this incredible list of reforms and entitlements that the Democrats would never give him," Norquist said, describing the demand for entitlement reforms akin to a "pink unicorn that doesn't exist."

Rep. Peter King, R-New York, sided with Graham Sunday, saying on NBC a pledge signed decades ago shouldn't be considered relevant today, and that "everything should be on the table."

"A pledge you signed 20 years ago, 18 years ago, is for that Congress," King said. "For instance, if I were in Congress in 1941, I would have signed the declaration of war against Japan. I'm not going to attack Japan today. The world has changed. The economic situation is different."

Norquist challenged that assertion, saying the pledge was good for the length of a lawmaker's time in office.

"Peter King knows full well the pledge he signed, and others have signed, it's for while you're in Congress, it's not for a two-year period," he said.

Ultimately, Norquist downplayed the talk from Graham and King on breaking the pledge as just that – talk.

"No pledge taker has voted for a tax increase. You've had some people discussing impure thoughts on national television," he said.

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Filed under: Fiscal Cliff • Grover Norquist
soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. TM

    The only person named Grover that Americans should listen to for sound advice is blue, furry, and can be found on Sesame Street. Norquist, on the other hand, is a snake oil salesman interested ONLY in maintaining his clout as a lobbyist.

    November 26, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  2. JJC

    But if they don't compromise the tax rates will go up automatically at the first of the year when all the temporary Bush tax cuts expire. So if they don't compromise then taxes go up even more. Grover is an idiot and needs to be ignored. He is anti-American in my book.

    November 26, 2012 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  3. anonoymous

    Sounds like blackmail to me....but Norquist needs to ask Romney if him supporting a canidate guarantees he'll be elected. We the people elect whom we wish to serve on our behalf. The middle class will no longer bare the sole responsibility of paying down this debt.

    November 26, 2012 09:20 am at 9:20 am |

    This is noise, Norquist needs to catch up with the times, his time has passed.

    November 26, 2012 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  5. jpmichigan

    This gentleman may have the money , which will be wasted, to unseat those who in congress support what majority of TAX PAYER want, to settle this fiscal cliff crisis. Those with so much money to spend in order to get their ways, should be taxed more and deductions taken from them. Use that wasted money to help Americans and pay down the deficit. Voters put people in congress, big business and unions pay off candidates, so they will vote the way big business and unions want, and many times hurts the American people.

    November 26, 2012 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  6. rs

    And I think we should go after Mr. Norquist as an enemy of the state. How else do you describe someone who has actively sought out pledges of loyalty contrary to the pledges polticians ought to be making to the Constitution and American citizens?

    November 26, 2012 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  7. Neal Powers

    Someone needs to tell Grover he is no longer relevant. He just arrived on the same desert island as Donald Trump, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, and Newt Gingrich. They can brag about themselves to each other long into the night, but it no longer matters. They are footnotes to history.

    November 26, 2012 09:23 am at 9:23 am |

    "Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist said Monday that his group, Americans for Tax Reform, would work to unseat Republicans who break their pledge to never vote for higher taxes."

    GOOD! Let's see exactly how much influence this group, Americans for Tax Reform, wields. I am almost certain that Republican elected officials will find that they should have never been afraid of Grover Norquist AND that they should have never signed that stupid pledge

    November 26, 2012 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  9. Ron

    Norquist is disillusioned if he thinks that the deficit can ever be balanced by not raising taxes. Question is how to in a far and balanced way. His tax pledge is absolutely ludicrous. It si defiantly effecting the Republican Party and not in a good way, hence the election of President Obama. Republicans wake up!!!!

    November 26, 2012 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  10. dave oldread

    people don;T LET THEM FOOL YOU, they all are jocky;n so they don't look bad, grover should just go away for his partys own good,the gop is in a steady downtwirl, people like sarah palin, grover.rush, glen beck. are the reason ...with thee need not to think the other side is not human, they all demonize the other side and ...we the avarage guy is just sick of hearing their conspircy therorys, from birthers to muslim to all the crap the crazy right wing nuts put out there the avarage guy is sick of hearing it......when will the gop relize it cost them the election this last cycle, there hateted and down right rumors and lies back fired in there face, its time to mov away from fox news and turn off rush and start working for the always changing american people that hired you.

    November 26, 2012 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  11. smendler

    When historians write the post-mortem of the American Republic, Grover Norquist will be tagged as one of the main perpetrators of its demise.

    November 26, 2012 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  12. DanS

    Who elected Norquist again? Oh...nevermind.

    November 26, 2012 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  13. Randy, San Francisco

    Norquist is an American Taliban terrorist. He is a fascist bully who has distorted the democratic process. It is time for GOP politicians to stand up to ideological extremists.

    November 26, 2012 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  14. plain&simple

    Put Grover on the national ballot....let's see what this country thinks!

    November 26, 2012 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  15. Gurgyl

    Kick this nasty animal out and put him in jail. Period.

    November 26, 2012 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  16. Lionel

    Did the people elect Norquist? Any politician who signs his pledge should be called out and voted out of office.

    Government is for the people and not for lobbist like Grover?

    November 26, 2012 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  17. jinx88

    Grover better watch out, those seats may go to Dems then and he will have no choice in the matter regardless.

    November 26, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  18. Amazing

    If you love your country, let's go after Grover if he goes after the Senators who put country before a lobbyist!

    November 26, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  19. David Flagg

    What about those Congresspersons Elect and the Norquist pledge, e.g., Cong. Elect Ted Yoho (R) Fl refused to sign the Norquist pledge in the first place during his campaign to defeat incumbant Cliff Stearns. . So Yoho has no pledge to break. Yoho says he has never spoken with Norquist nor would he "tie his hands" on matters important to his new constituency. He recognizes his obligation is to his District and the nation, not to G. Norquist. We need more such political courage.

    November 26, 2012 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  20. The Real Tom Paine

    Impure thoughts? I guess Norquist is a cult leader and is the self-appointed head of fiscal virtue. Since when do elected officials in this country answer to one person who has never stood before the voters? If they do, they don't belong in our democracy.

    November 26, 2012 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  21. n, tx

    Who is this norquist, I forgot he is no body, people like him, Romney etc need to pay more on taxes.

    November 26, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  22. Rynew

    Grover Norquist is a paid Washington Lobbyist who has been using big money to threatening

    members of Congress. Norquist has never run for office. No one has ever voted for him.

    Yet Grover Norquist has become the most powerful and feared man in Washington D.C. by

    using large sums of money from hidden sources.

    For the last 4 years Congress has been deadlocked because of Grover Norquist's contracts.

    When is America going to stand up against Grover Norquist?

    November 26, 2012 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  23. Jules

    A couple of days ago Grover Norquist said that the congressmen made the pledge not to raise taxes to the people, not to him. So why doesn't he just sit down and shut up and let the people make the decision on whether to "go after" them or not?

    November 26, 2012 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  24. Larry L

    Pledges to lobbyists put a padlock on a politician's brain. As situations change and crisis scenarios emerge leaders need the flexibility to apply logic and reason. Controlling taxes is a noble cause – but an unbalanced approach to controlling the deficit could crash the economy for decades. Americans showed their displeasure with radical Republicans at the polls – and we'll do it in recall elections if they allow us to go over the fiscal cliff.

    November 26, 2012 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  25. Jules

    So does this mean I will have to send donations to those Republicans who work in a bipartisan fashion to deal with the fiscal cliff even though I don't normally send donations to very many members of the GOP? Probably – if that's what it takes to make Norquist The Unelected irrelevent.

    November 26, 2012 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
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