Skip to comments.House Republican lawmakers want out of Norquist tax pledge
Posted on 11/09/2011 3:07:39 AM PST by markomalley
Grover Norquists grip on the House Republican Conference is loosening.
A growing number of GOP lawmakers have disavowed Norquists pledge against supporting tax increases in recent days, telling The Hill they no longer feel bound to uphold a document that they signed, in some cases, more than a decade ago.
Norquists advocacy group, Americans for Tax Reform, lists 238 House signers of its Taxpayer Protection Pledge, but several House Republicans, and at least one Democrat, now say the anti-tax group is being deceptive and want their names taken off the list.
I havent signed it since 1994, Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio) said, explaining that he didnt even remember endorsing the pledge until Americans for Tax Reform produced the original document earlier this year.
In its publicly displayed list of signers in the 112th Congress, Norquists group includes several members who say they have specifically refused to sign the pledge during their most recent campaigns.
The sheet of paper they signed years ago, the lawmakers say, is no longer valid.
My drivers license expires. The milk in my refrigerator expires. My gym membership expires, and I find the website to be a little deceptive, LaTourette said.
Norquist immediately dismissed the claim, which was echoed by several other House Republicans.
Does that even pass the laugh test? Norquist told The Hill. A promise not to do something doesnt have a time limit.
I havent even had junior state legislators pull that crap, Norquist added.
The pledge dissenters represent the latest challenge to Norquist, widely considered the nations most influential anti-tax activist. Democratic leaders have targeted his power in recent weeks, vilifying him as a puppet-master of the Republican Party.
The pledge, which Norquist launched in 1986, has taken on added significance as the congressional supercommittee on deficit reduction nears its deadline for finding at least $1.2 trillion in budget savings over 10 years. Democrats are insisting on new tax revenues, but the pledge mandates that any tax changes be revenue-neutral. They blame the pledge for the impasse in the talks.
The difficulty we find is that every one of these discussions, Grover Norquist seems to be in the room, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters Tuesday. I am hopeful that the Republicans on the supercommittee will break away from this.
Reids comments came as GOP panel members offered to raise tax revenue by limiting deductions in exchange for lowering rates, in what aides characterized as a significant concession in the negotiations. Democrats panned the offer, saying the new revenue would be erased by extending Bush-era tax rates. Norquist, meanwhile, derided it in a Twitter post as an idiot idea reminiscent of the Alternative Minimum Tax.
All but six House Republicans are listed as signers of Norquists pledge, meaning that a voting majority of the body is on record opposing tax increases. Forty GOP senators and one Democratic senator have signed it.
Norquist has waged public battles with other Republican critics of his activism, most notably this spring with Sen. Tom Coburn (Okla.). House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) raised eyebrows last week when he referred to Norquist as some random person even as he defended the House GOPs steadfast opposition to tax increases.
Americans for Tax Reform lists two House Democrats, Reps. Robert Andrews (N.J.) and Ben Chandler (Ky.), as pledge signers, but Andrews told The Hill he signed the document a single time, in 1992, and wants his name removed.
I understood it to mean that for the next term, if I were elected, I would not vote to raise taxes, Andrews, who called the ATR website terribly misleading, said in an interview. I honored that pledge. I never renewed it.
I never considered it to be like my marriage vows, he added. Im married to Camille Andrews, not Grover Norquist. I promised her to be faithful until death do us part, and I mean it. I did not promise him to oppose tax increases until death do us part.
Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) signed the pledge in 1998, when he first ran for Congress, and said he didnt even know he was still on the list until earlier this year. I thought it was for the next Congress, Simpson said. If it sticks with you forever, why do they ask you to re-sign it every two years?
LaTourette said he had also assumed he had not signed it and even enlisted Boehners office to check with Norquists group, which confirmed that he did endorse the pledge in 1994.
ATR officials said the groups practice is not to ask pledge-takers to sign it more than once, although several lawmakers reported being sent the pledge regularly during their reelection campaigns. Norquist said it was perhaps sent by state or local groups and that sometimes ATR sends it out en masse to candidates. But, he added, thats never under the notion that those who have already signed it have to sign again.
Republican Reps. Howard Coble (N.C.), Pete King (N.Y.) and Lee Terry (Neb.) all indicated, either in interviews or through spokesmen, that they signed the pledge more than a decade ago but not for the current Congress. They were among 40 House Republicans who joined 60 Democrats last week in signing a letter to the supercommittee urging a grand bargain on deficit reduction that included revenues, entitlement reform and spending cuts.
As far as Mr. Norquist is concerned, thats his call if he wants to bind us all based on one signature, Coble said.
Norquist has long emphasized that the pledge is made to a candidates constituents, not to him or Americans for Tax Reform. And he has said that his group is more concerned with lawmakers voting record on taxes, instead of their rhetoric.
Talking about robbing a little old lady is not the same as bashing her over the head and stealing her purse, he said. Talking about raising taxes on a little old lady is not the same as taxing her.
But he also signaled that ATR would not hesitate to target pledge signers if they voted for a debt deal that included tax increases.
They made a promise to their constituents, Norquist said. If they do raise taxes, they were elected on a lie. And were not going to pretend theyre not lying.
Despite the recent complaints, most House Republicans remain broadly opposed to tax increases, and several of the signers of last weeks letter said they were calling for more revenues but not higher tax rates.
Grover Norquists premise makes sense to most common-sense people, a pledge signer who endorsed the supercommittee letter, freshman Rep. Mike Kelly (Pa.), said.
Some Republicans have disavowed the pledge not based on a dispute over its duration, but because they say it constrains their policy choices.
Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) signed the pledge prior to being elected to Congress in 2004, a spokeswoman told The Hill.
But Kerri Price, the spokeswoman, said that by the start of his second term, Fortenberry thought the pledge limited his ability to look at policy issues creatively. Since then, the Nebraska Republican has repeatedly asked, so far unsuccessfully, for his name to be taken off the list of pledge signers on ATRs website.
I dont care to be associated with it. Its too constraining, Fortenberry told an August town hall in his district, according to the Lincoln Journal Star.
..to which LaTourette said, "Damn.. why do they have to keep RECORDS??"
Which means... look for them to acquiesce to calls for, as Harry Reid termed it, "a teeny, tiny increase in contributions from millionaires and billionaires."
Target all signers who break their pledge in the primary.
This headline is misleading. One would get the impression that a large number of them want out, when in fact it’s a small handfull of the usual RINO suspects that have been wanting out for years. Nothing new here.
Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.)...told The Hill he signed the document a single time, in 1992
Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) signed the pledge in 1998
Republican Reps. Howard Coble (N.C.), Pete King (N.Y.) and Lee Terry (Neb.) all indicated that they signed the pledge more than a decade ago
Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) signed the pledge prior to being elected to Congress in 2004
Anyone notice the trend? Once they have been in the machine for a while, they don't give a rip about you, or any silly promises they made to get in your good graces.
Throw the bums out.
Norquist seemed relatively sane on the CSPAN 9-9-9 panel discussion but here, in print again, comes off as a loon. I'd tell him where to stuff it.
And then he did, I got pissed and did not vote for him a second time. He lost.
When it comes to taxes, I am not playing around.
I for one would never have signed Norquist’s pledge (and probably would lose for that and other reasons). I’d gladly trade a $1 tax increase for a trillion dollars in spending cuts, but that is technically against the pledge. Very silly.
I’m not going to try to defend congresscritters; they have staff for that. But keep in mind that this pledge has been used to try and keep Congress from voting to close loopholes and eliminate some of the sweetheart tax breaks that corporations have gotten passed to give themselves advantages over their competitors. Pledges like this put Congressmen at the mercy of people like Grover Norquist, which most FReepers should know by now is not a good thing.
They’ll make a list for you.
The GOPs Grover Norquist problem and the RNC debate
By Michelle Malkin January 5, 2009 12:29 PM
...............ve had my disagreements with Ron Paul supporters, but I see nothing wrong with their desire to grill RNC candidates on issues that matter to them. The RNC may not be a policymaking body, but its policy positions drive strategy and tactics and donor outreach efforts.
Which brings us back to Grover Norquist and the unpleasant realities that these strategists and rebranding gurus and RNC candidates dont want to talk about.
Party power player Norquist and the ATR propose to help fix the GOPs problems.
Norquist is part of the problem.
Some of us have not forgotten how Norquist made common cause with the left-wing zealots at People for the American Way in a forum bashing the Patriot Act and how he forged even more dangerous alliances in the name of Muslim GOP outreach. Flashback from my column in October 2003:
Alec the Bloviator Baldwin has a new bosom buddy: Beltway Republican strategist Grover Norquist.
The Bush-bashing actor-turned-activist and the Muslim vote-courting political organizer joined together at a Washington, D.C.-area conference last weekend to perpetuate bald lies about the Patriot Act and to oppose the repressive War on Terror (repressing terrorist suspects apparently being a bad thing).
Baldwin and Norquists panel, titled Strange Bedfellows, was sponsored by the ultraliberal group, People for the American Way (PFAW). When PFAW head and panel participant Ralph Neas ranted about the lack of judicial and Congressional oversight of the Justice Departments terror investigations, the audience applauded passionately. According to National Review Online reporter Byron York, Baldwin (the moderator) then turned to Norquist for comment.
Ditto, Norquist replied. Never mind the flat-out falsity of Neas claim. The smarmy Baldwin looked at his panelists and proudly remarked: Cant you feel the love?
Norquists kissy-kissy partnership with a washed-up Hollywood Clintonite is the least of his unseemly alliances.
Consider: The conference they attended last weekend was hosted by the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom (NCPPF), which was co-founded in 1997 by Sami Al-Arian the former University of South Florida professor charged earlier this year as a fund raiser and organizer for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group. The money Al-Arian allegedly raised went to terrorist operations overseas that killed at least two Americans. In 2001, Al-Arians NCPPF gave Norquist an award for his work to abolish the use of secret intelligence evidence in terrorism cases. Al-Arian was the keynote speaker. Insight investigative reporter Ken Timmerman says Norquist told the magazine he remains proud of the award.
Among other major participants and sponsors of the NCPPF conference was the American Muslim Council (AMC). In January, the group accused President Bush of calling on God to kill innocent Iraqi children. The next day, the group instructed mosque directors to block FBI counterterrorism efforts. Late last month, AMC founder Abdurahman Alamoudi was charged with illegally accepting money from Libya for his efforts to persuade the United States to lift sanctions against that nation. He also allegedly attempted to smuggle hundreds of thousands of dollars to Syria, which federal officials say was intended for delivery to Damascus-based terrorist groups.
Alamoudis arrest is part of a larger Justice Department investigation of terrorism funding focused on Saudi-backed Islamic foundations and businesses based in Herndon, Va. (Alamoudi is also responsible for founding the American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council to certify Muslim chaplains hired by the military, including Capt. James Youssef Yee charged last week with taking classified information home from Guantanamo Bay.) A so-called moderate, Alamoudi is on record praising the terrorist group Hezbollah and proclaiming: We are all followers of Hamas.
Norquists lobbying firm is registered as a lobbyist for Alamoudi. Alamoudi provided seed money for Norquists Islamic Institute, which shares space with Norquists Americans for Tax Reform group. The institute is run by Alamoudi deputy and former AMC government relations director Khaled Saffuri. Saffuri and Norquist have worked closely with Bush senior adviser Karl Rove to give radical Muslim activists access to the White House. No doubt because of their efforts, Alamoudi was invited to a White House prayer service after the Sept. 11 attacks.
If any Democrat activist had such shady connections, conservatives would be on him like white on rice. Instead, Norquist has gotten away with smearing his critics most notably, former Reagan official Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, one of the most decent and patriotic Republicans Ive had the honor of meeting as hatemongers.
Alamoudi pleaded guilty in 2004 to accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from Libya in violation of U.S. law and attempting to hide it from the government.
Another reminder from Insight magazine of how Norquist tried to silence those who questioned his reckless strategic decisions by branding them as racists and bigots:
Norquist was Alamoudis most influential Washington facilitator, authorities believe, noting that Norquist reminds friend and foe alike that he is close to the presidents powerful political strategist, Karl Rove.
Norquist, who previously has denied any suggestion that his work facilitated any wrongdoing, not only introduced Alamoudi to Washington GOP power circles but also Sammy Al Arian, whom prosecutors arrested earlier this year for alleged terrorist activities. Federal law-enforcement sources say they are focusing on some of Norquists associates and financial ties to terrorist groups.
Alamoudi ran, directed, founded or funded at least 15 Muslim political-action and charitable groups that have taken over the public voice of Islamic Americans. Through a mix of civil-rights complaints, Old Left-style political coalitions and sheer persistence, Alamoudi helped inch the image of U.S.-based Islamists toward the political mainstream and induced politicians to embrace his organizations. He sought to secure the support first of the Clinton administration in seeking to repeal certain antiterrorist laws, but when Bill Clinton failed to deliver, Alamoudi defected to Bush, then governor of Texas. Alamoudi and other Muslim leaders met with Bush in Austin in July , offering to support his bid for the White House in exchange for Bushs commitment to repeal certain antiterrorist laws.
That meeting, sources say, began a somewhat strained relationship between the self-appointed Muslim leaders and the Bush team. Some senior Bush advisers voiced caution to Rove, who is said to have disregarded such concerns, seeing instead an opportunity to bring another ethnic and religious group into the GOP big tent. A photo of the Austin event shows Bush with Alamoudi standing over his left shoulder, flanked by the former head of the Pakistani Communist Party, several open supporters of the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist groups and other individuals Insight is trying to identify.
Canceled checks obtained by Insight show Alamoudi provided seed money to start a GOP-oriented Muslim group called the Islamic Institute, which Norquist originally chaired and now is led by former Alamoudi aide and former AMC staffer Khaled Saffuri. A White House memo obtained by Insight prepared for coordinating Muslim and Arab-American public-liaison events with the White House shows that the Islamic Institute was instrumental in establishing the connection. The memo, from early 2001, provides lists of invitees and the name, date of birth and Social Security number of each. Norquist, as the first chairman of the Islamic Institute, tops the list.
Alamoudi and others, including Norquist, tried to keep critics at bay by branding them as racists and bigots.
Refresher from Frank Gaffney: A Troubling Influence. See also Mona Charen, Kenneth Timmerman, Insight, The American Spectator, Cal Thomas, and Debbie Schlussel.
Will the next RNC chairman remain silent about Norquists security-undermining strategic alliances? Will the next RNC chairman openly reject the same race-card-playing strategies that have corrupted a money-grubbing party establishment? Or will the field of candidates kiss the ring and hold their tongues?
The guaranteed silence on these issues today will speak volumes.
The RNC debate is over. There was much pandering and kowtowing and pledging to increase minority outreach efforts.
What no RNC candidate would say:
I will never engage in outreach efforts at the cost of our security and sovereignty.
Yes, their integrity/honesty has a short shelf life.
What is Norquist going to do, give his list to some Islamofascist cell he knows about in the U.S. /s
I think one should not confound the congresscritters who despise Norquist with those ready and willing to raise taxes. Its the apples and oranges thing.
Raise our taxes and you are politically dead, GOP.
There is NO room for any tax increase on people like me who work for a living and have families to support.
We will form a new party, pure and simple.
Of course they do. Why cut back when it's not their money they're spending?
All they have to do is force their slaves to work harder, longer, and be more productive. Tax slaves are a dime a dozen, and not only are they expendable - They're a renewable resource!
And, we all know they'll vote for the Republican RINOs again in 2012, because if they don't? "The tax and spend Democrats will win."(Oh my. Is that the pot calling the kettle black?)
Signing any type of “pledge” is politically stupid, either you are trustworthy and mean what you say or you’re not. Signing a piece of paper for some special interest group is not only meaningless, it is transparent pandering.
Rinos doing a self destructive version of a death march.
If they vote for tax increases, they will not be coming back to DC.
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