WASHINGTON – Approaching the fiscal cliff, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are having to face the reality of compromise to avoid the inevitable financial crisis Americans face if a combination of tax increases and budget cuts are allowed to take effect Jan. 1.
Some Republicans in Congress have discussed a willingness to raise taxes, but Grover Norquist, a conservative activist, says he knows of none who have broken their pledge not to do so.
Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform (AFTR), convinced policy makers and candidates to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which is “a written commitment that an elected official makes to his constituents, not to me,” Norquist explained on WTOP Wednesday.
In the 112th Congress, 238 House members and 41 senators have taken the pledge. On the state level, 13 governors and 1,244 state legislators have taken the pledge, according to the AFTR website.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican, recently said on CBS’s “This Morning” that he’d break his promise to never raise taxes if it meant avoiding a fiscal cliff.
“I think Grover is wrong when it comes to, ‘We can’t cap deductions and buy down debt,'” Graham said on the show Monday, adding, “I will violate the pledge, long story short, for the good of the country, only if Democrats will do entitlement reform.”
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., agreed with Graham’s sentiment, saying the stakes have changed since he signed the pledge, reports National Journal.
“A pledge you signed 20 years ago, 18 years ago, is for that Congress,” King said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “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.”
When asked about Graham’s and others’ recent statements that they would consider breaking the pledge, Norquist responded that no one has broken it yet.
“Some people have had impure thoughts,” Norquist said.
He told WTOP listeners he thinks there are other options for the country than raising taxes or going over the proverbial fiscal cliff.
“Those aren’t the two options,” Norquist said on WTOP.
“Two years ago [Democrats] said they would extend all of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts and extenders out for two years, that was the Democratic decision. They said the economy is too weak, raising taxes even on higher income people would damage the economy. The economy isn’t any better than it was two years ago. There’s every reason not to damage the economy,” he said.
Lawmakers have more to focus on than just the expiring budget cuts and tax increases associated with the fiscal cliff, Norquist said.
“Never mind the fiscal cliff, there are five Obamacare taxes that hit Jan 1. Those aren’t even on the table. That means hundreds of billions of dollars in tax increases that he doesn’t want to talk about, and hundreds of billions in additional spending that he doesn’t want to talk about. All he wants to do is raise taxes to keep spending more money,” Norquist said.