Sen. Chambliss brings tax pledge debate outside beltway
December 1st, 2012
05:11 PM ET
9 years ago

Sen. Chambliss brings tax pledge debate outside beltway

(CNN) – Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Georgia, hit back at Grover Norquist's no-tax pledge, saying he doesn't want Washington to "dictate" how he votes and that his commitment is to his constituents.

"I think that you sent me to Washington to think for myself. And I want to vote the way you want me to vote," Chambliss told a group of Republicans in a suburb northwest of Atlanta Saturday, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution report. "I don't want to be dictated to by anybody in Washington as to how I'm going to vote on anything."

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Norquist heads the conservative group Americans for Tax Reform and has been successful over the years in lobbying a strong majority of congressional Republicans to sign his pledge not to raise taxes.

According to Americans for Tax Reform, 39 senators, including Chambliss, and 219 House members entering the next Congress have signed the pledge, but with the looming "fiscal cliff" and the need for compromise to avoid the automatic, end-of-year federal spending cuts and tax increases, an increasing number of conservative lawmakers have distanced themselves from Norquist's pledge.

At the core of the debt and deficit negotiations, Republicans and Democrats split on a means to raise revenue needed to tame the nation's growing debt. Republicans generally favor closing loopholes and reducing tax deductions while Democrats favor raising tax rates on wealthier Americans.

In searching for a solution to avoid the "fiscal cliff," Chambliss joined the band of dissenters last week when he told CNN affiliate WMAZ that he "care(s) more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge."

"When I said I care about my country more than I do about a 20-year-old pledge, that's what I'm talking about," the two-term Georgia senator reiterated Saturday. "Things have changed in 20 years. We didn't owe $17 trillion 20 years ago."

In response to a growing chorus opposing the pledge, Norquist told CNN those who signed but now oppose the agreement are having "impure thoughts," adding that no one who signed has actually broken the pledge yet, though he said he will work to unseat those who do.

Some who signed but now oppose the pledge say the commitment was only good for the congressional term, but Norquist has pushed back, saying the congressmen knew the pledge did not have a time limit.

Bringing the issues closer to home, Chambliss discussed the ethanol tax credit, a $6 billion annual tax break given to oil producers. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that small crowd of Cobb County Republicans cheered when Chambliss suggested an elimination of the tax credit, which is largely unpopular in the South.

"Guess what? You just said you would violate the pledge that I signed. Because by the elimination of a tax credit, if you don't take that money and reduce rates, that's a violation of that pledge," said Chambliss, who is up for reelection in 2014.

CNN's Kevin Bohn and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • Fiscal Cliff • Grover Norquist • Saxby Chambliss
soundoff (238 Responses)
  1. Nancy Holden

    Republicans must learn to compromise WITHIN their party if they have hope of overcoming fragmentation. If the tea party fades away maybe they might have a chance to represent a unified conservatism again.

    December 2, 2012 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  2. john

    one should never marry an ideaology
    you never know when you may need a divorce

    December 2, 2012 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  3. Pat

    Norquist will not be in the history books. Unless he is referred to in some manner such as McCarthyism.

    December 2, 2012 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  4. Missoula

    Interesting, so many so called Conservative Christians would sign a pledge. They have obviously not read the bible.

    December 2, 2012 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  5. youloze

    Saxby Chambliss "See daddy siners have soul too" 🙂

    December 2, 2012 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  6. ja

    it is time to convert that pledge to toilet paper, the contents are unpatriotic,

    December 2, 2012 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  7. Catnippy

    Look up situational ethics. While I agree that this pledge was wrong from the get-go, the right and wrong of it so obviously is not what is motivating this guy. The results of the 2012 election and the likely results when he comes up for reelection are what he is all about.

    December 2, 2012 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  8. JiminNM

    Go crawl under a rock Senator. You are just a Corporation and Federal Reserve shill. Eliminate all taxes and choke the life out of the Corporation and Federal Reserve for eternity.

    December 2, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  9. RAWoD

    Grover should be tried for treason. period.

    December 2, 2012 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  10. marko

    Good for him! I am proud that congressional people are waking up to the fact that things cannot go on as they have been. Raise taxes some on those that can afford it and cut some of these bogus loopholes such as the Ethanol tax credit, lear jet tax credit and such! Corporate America has gone too far with their lobbying to get such crazy loopholes put into law and companies such as GE are not paying any taxes and even getting tax credits! How ludacrous is that?

    December 2, 2012 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  11. Anonymous

    Extend the tax cuts for the middle class now. Norquist can go to the devil. Republicans want Obama to propose to gut Medicare and Social Security so they don't have to. Ain't going to happen. It's time for Boehner to get his House in order and start negotiating real proposals ... not fairy tale dust.

    December 2, 2012 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  12. Gregor

    The pledge calls for no tax increase- if we go off the cliff there will be tax increases on all

    December 2, 2012 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  13. marko

    And as for Grover Norquest, he should be investigated and tried for extortion of US Politicians! That is what his pledge amounts to. Do this or I will do all I can to get you defeated in the next election. Why doesn't the DOJ do something about this guy?

    December 2, 2012 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
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