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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- Norquist says he'll go after pledge-breakers

- Rep. Capito to run for Senate in West Virginia

Filed under: Fiscal Cliff • Grover Norquist
soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. S.R.K

    All these comments on the lunatic Norquist makes me optimistic that good sense will finally prevail. America is not just about greed and over-achieving. Its also about building a caring, compassionate society that also allows one to fulfill his dreams. That's what Obama's victory was all about. Romney lost because of his disdain for the majority who work hard for a living, live by the sweat of their brows and pay more than the measly13 percent that he pays as taxes.

    November 26, 2012 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  2. Jules

    Those talking about generating revenue through some type of tax increase are guilty of "impure thoughts" according to Noquist? The man has gone around the bend.

    November 26, 2012 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  3. Pete

    Norquists is so anti American he stinks of treason.His allience with the NRA and his marriage to a Muslim Palestinian just goes to show how extreme he really is...Yet he says he'll go after pledge breakers when his idol in Reagan raised taxes 11 times and changed tax deductions while he was in office but fails to recognise that fact doesn't he!!Some one should whisper in his ear if he continues his agenda with his pledge he might find jail fitting instead of being found in a comprising position one day because its happened before and it can with him too!!Americans have had enough of Norquists and his threats and politicians know if they don't work with this president to get the country back on track forget about the pledge because there don't be any republican signees to worry about,thel all be gone!!The choice is yours republicans,either work with Pres. Obama or find another line of work because after midterms you'll be out side looking in,you can bet on it because we as Americans have had enough of your obstructionistic ways plain and simple your pathedic as a party!!!

    November 26, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  4. fayse

    I think that any Congressman or Senator that signed this pledge should publicly recind it. Grover's power days are over.

    November 26, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  5. rs

    To: Members of Congress-

    You have a choice: Honor your pledge to the Constitution of the United States, and the American people, or; pledge yourself to a lobbyist for the richest 1% of Americans.

    Choosing the first means denying the latter. Choosing the latter means you will be voted out of office. If there were justice, it would mean signing pledges to lobbyists ought to send you to Gitmo for a few years, but I suspect most Americans will be satisfied with a renunciation of Mr. Norquist, and a promise to work for us.

    November 26, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  6. Tony

    Republicans like Graham and Chambliss are coming to the realization that Tea Party Republicans could not even stop Mitt Romney in the Republican primary. This was despite the fact that many Republicans, not just Tea Party Republicans, knew all along that Romney was a bad candidate. Romney lost to Obama, who is considered by many Republicans to be in the running for the worst president ever, even though the unemployment rate was 8%. Republicans, if Romney lost to Obama when the unemployment rate was 8%, does that make Romney the worst presidential candidate ever?

    November 26, 2012 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  7. Thomas

    Why dose this man have any power whatsoever ? Lobbyist of Intimidation .

    This only shows how weak the GOP politicians are . Grover Norquist is like a weasel herding chickens .

    November 26, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  8. Milton K. Wiah

    This man needs to be in jail instead some lunatic republicans including the defeated Mitt Romney signed document
    call tax pledge. How can a country function without raising taxes considering the current global economic crisis.

    November 26, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  9. Over the hill

    We are letting it be known Mr Norquist... we will go after any of your pledge signers who does not vote for responsible tax increases to get us out of this financial crisis. We we hold you and them repsonsible for the downfall of the american economy. You and your followers have hurt our country long enough for political purposes, and we are tired of it. Mr Norquist, either change your ways or face humiliation.

    November 26, 2012 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  10. DaveC

    I have one comment on this matter. Can any republican imagine Reagan or Bush Sr signing a pledge with this clown? Really? I was around for both presidents, voted for them, had a great amount of respect for them and couldn't imagine them signing anything this idiot would put in front of their face.

    The republican party needs to throw this guy under the bus. He is a good start to what is wrong with the republican party. Clear out the nut jobs.

    November 26, 2012 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  11. sonny chapman

    Sounds like a Religious Theology rather than a Political Philosophy.

    November 26, 2012 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  12. Zedlok

    LOL Grover Norquist believes he's still relevant. After their last experience with Karl Rove, I'm not sure how many more of their rich buddies want to flush $100 million down the toilet again...

    November 26, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  13. The REAL Truth...

    While I have no desire to give a larger chunk of my hard-earned income to an irresponsible govt, Norquist's stance is asinine and juvenile. I agree we need to make cuts, but we are paying the LOWEST Federal Income tax rates in recent memory... and SIMPLE MATH dictates increasing revenues requires raising tax rates.

    Besides, the "fiscal cliff" is a SHAM ! It's a shell-game. The debt service on the $16T debt is less than 1% of GDP which is about 20 points lower than the average US Household debt ratio. It's perfectly manageable.
    If the GOP doesn't compromise by 1/1 then the tax rates go back to Clinton's rates and automatic cuts start. The GOP will have blown Norquist's pledge out of the water and the Dem's will be able to point and say the GOP raised taxes, which is what the GOP will say about the Dem's. They will then turn around and try top lower the rates on all but the wealthy which the GOP will oppose. And so it goes...

    November 26, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  14. Emerson

    This lobbyist is threatening to go after Members of Congress. Its way past time that Congress and the Justice Department should shine a light on where this guy got his money and who funds Americans for Tax Reform.

    November 26, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  15. OldSlick

    I don't know what era old Nordy lives in, the simple times of the old days have long since gone if there ever were any,less gov't
    less taxes will never work. The world has changed.

    November 26, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  16. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Where's a firing squad when you need one?

    November 26, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  17. lolo

    Would this weasel just go away!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Maybe he and his wife should move to Pakistan. @Emerson I agree with you.

    November 26, 2012 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  18. Thomas

    I love how Grover Norquist uses Ronald Reagan as a model for spending.

    Time for Grover to find a new scam .

    November 26, 2012 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  19. Nsikan

    The Talibans are happy, America has a new movement – Americans for Tax Reform.

    November 26, 2012 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  20. Dennis Freeman

    It's over, Grover

    November 26, 2012 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  21. DougW

    First 'poopy-heads' and now 'pink unicorns'. This pretty much tells you all you need to know about Grover Norquist. He's a man who sticks by his convictions, even when they have been proven wrong time and time again. If he has to use crazy, fantasy-based 'logic' to support his argument, then he's willing to unleash as many dragons and ghosties as needed, and to call his opponents as many almost-dirty names are required to get the job done. Not because he honestly believes that his ideas will be better for the people of America, but because he needs to be right. Oh, and of course it helps make him wealthier and more powerful too, but honestly, that's just coincidence.

    November 26, 2012 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  22. Hap

    Here's an idea for a movement: Get rid of the pledge, or we'll get rid of you. I agree it is treason, they took an oath and if they don't want to abide by it they need to go. Who does this guy represent? It sure ain't me or anybody I know, he wasn't elected and certainly doesn't have our country's best interest in mind. I think the signers should be ashamed of playing this childish game with our economy as well as the morons who voted for them.

    November 26, 2012 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  23. SDG66

    Republicans – if you really want to fix your party then then start by ditching this nut-case Norquist.

    November 26, 2012 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  24. v_mag

    So, Norquist is gonna support Democrats, right? I mean, if he's trying to unseat Repugnants, who's left to support but Democrats? That's bull, Grover. (What kind of a mother names her kid 'Grover'?)

    I think it's time the IRS investigated this nutcake. Anybody who's that miserly must be cheating on what little taxes he pays. And what kind of guy thinks he has the right to force his personal pledge on a congress person to act against the interests of his/her constituents?

    November 26, 2012 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  25. minnie

    Who elected this guy? Who does he think he is, Dirty Harry? Jeez.

    November 26, 2012 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
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