Sen. Chambliss brings tax pledge debate outside beltway
December 1st, 2012
05:11 PM ET
8 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. Leslie Ann Warren

    We Need 2 Jus Shut Up & Tax The Rich.. So Put Up or Shut Up!!

    December 2, 2012 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  2. Anonymous

    Finally ... some common sense.

    December 2, 2012 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  3. xirume

    Norquist is an abomination that needs to be buried in a toxic waste dump and not be touched for 10,000 years. It's a travesty to see repooblicants looking up to this sewer dweller for political guidance. The devil probably has a better ideology than this failed abortion of a human being.

    December 2, 2012 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  4. Philip

    This is leadership.

    December 2, 2012 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  5. Martin Williams

    Congratulation to senator Chambliss for finally using his god given senses to do the people's job and stop listening to rich idiots like Grover Norquist.

    December 2, 2012 02:07 am at 2:07 am |
  6. migelix

    Those who created jobs and wealth passed their money on to their worthless kids like Donald Trump and Mitt Romney who created nothing.Worthless p.o.s. that keep their money in other countries.Too much money in the hands of a few.

    December 2, 2012 02:25 am at 2:25 am |
  7. Chedar

    Grover power is waning. The people's power is the name of the game.

    December 2, 2012 03:01 am at 3:01 am |
  8. Caleb

    My God, someone actually thinking rationally about an economic situation!! Haven't seen that in a long time. And that isn't just for Republicans either. Both parties have had plenty of time to fix this situation, they just refuse to compromise in order to save face. When did it become more popular to be a bull-headed fool than to use your brain in a national setting?

    December 2, 2012 03:23 am at 3:23 am |
  9. Groo

    I'm glad we have at least one with the guts to stand up for what he believes in. We simply cannot get out of this mess without tax increases. I hate to say it but it's true. We have something over $50,000 tax debt for every single American. Increases are the only way to go, anything else is just putting off the inevitable and making it worse.

    December 2, 2012 03:23 am at 3:23 am |
  10. Ike

    Put PEOPLE TO WORK so they can pay Ss TAXES and then able to retire someday !

    December 2, 2012 03:30 am at 3:30 am |
  11. Beverly

    Am all geared up and ready to go off the fiscal cliff are you

    December 2, 2012 03:30 am at 3:30 am |
  12. Steve

    Chambliss is a rare breed of Republican: he has principles. I differ with him on a lot of issues, but I also respect him a great deal for being willing to stand up to the GOP establishment and Grover Norquist, the political bully with deep pockets.

    December 2, 2012 03:33 am at 3:33 am |
  13. Save Security Security, End the Wars

    He and the other Republicans who are rethinking their tax pledge are only doing so because they don't want automatic cuts in military spending. They and their secret donors want us to keep wasting trillions of American taxpayer dollars every year fighting other people's wars in the Middle East. Cut military spending by 70%, end the wars, practice a MYOB foreign policy and there will be plenty of money to cut the deficit and save Social Security.

    December 2, 2012 04:25 am at 4:25 am |
  14. Leif

    Remind me when anyone voted for Norquist, and for what office? My memory must be foggy.

    December 2, 2012 05:01 am at 5:01 am |
  15. mike Lake Orion Michigan

    He will be looking for another job soon.

    December 2, 2012 05:05 am at 5:05 am |
  16. NameGene

    Horray Republican Chamblis

    Thank you for wisdom ,courage and leadership.


    Republican Abe Lincoln

    December 2, 2012 05:37 am at 5:37 am |
  17. craig

    It's about time some in the GOP realized that Grover doesn't rule their lives, and that they weren't elected to be his puppets. It's time to close the lid on Grover!

    December 2, 2012 05:58 am at 5:58 am |
  18. rickirs

    Norquist didn't elect anyone. American voters did. It sounds like he wants republicans to worship his pac money and obey him as their god. So are republicans their own to decide their politics or are they indentured to Noquist?

    December 2, 2012 06:05 am at 6:05 am |
  19. Sean

    America shouldn't be dictated by any special interest group. Period!

    December 2, 2012 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  20. mindcrime

    Actually Sen. Chambliss, you were elected as a representitive of the people.

    You are NOT to think for yourself, that's not why you were hired.

    This is the problem with these politicians. They don't know their role.

    December 2, 2012 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  21. RD

    Republicans need to let the American people know the concept of the Fiscal cliff was the Administrations idea to gain leverage in the earlier negotiation process. Republicans "Up'd the Anti" to insure Democrats were on a level playing field. This concept became law when President Barak Obama signed it- He owns the mess his administration created. If no deal is reached they are no longer "Bush Tax Cuts" they become Obama Tax Increases in my book.

    December 2, 2012 06:15 am at 6:15 am |
  22. Linda

    I understand that cutting medicare coverge is on the table for fiscal cliff cuts. There should be a middle class person on Medicare, helping make any decision on cutting Medicare's coverage. We all pay for it. For as long as I know, in the past, the Medicare money has been managed misapproprietly. The house and senate may think differently if this was their health insurance.

    December 2, 2012 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  23. William R. Hill

    Members of the House and Senate were sent to Washington to govern like adults in the best interests of the country – not to hide behind a no-tax pledge promoted by a phony like Grover Norquist, who has no has no authority to claim the pledge is binding. It's only binding in the minds of gutless politicians who think it makes them popular with voters and enables them to claim they are true "Conservatives." They forget that the first job of a conservative in Congress is to conserve the integrity of the United States by working toward a balanced budget and elimination of a staggering deficit created over the year largely by an undisciplined Congress.

    December 2, 2012 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
  24. Hoop

    Norquist doesn't run this country. Our elected representatives do. Who died and appointed Norquist king?

    December 2, 2012 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  25. Sadie Boyd

    Grover Norquist is an enemy to the state. Where is that group called the committee on unamerican affairs? He should be tried for treason! His influence is did he get all those people to pledge to him instead of the United States? Is he one of those Jim Jones, David Karesh types? Senator Chambliss is correct, he is supposed to represent his state not Norquist's bazaar cult group!

    December 2, 2012 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
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