(Image source: CBS)

BY CHRISTINA HARTMAN

Grover Norquist has been called one of the most powerful men in Washington, whose infamous “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” opponents blame for holding Republican lawmakers hostage in deficit reduction negotiations.

But as lawmakers head back to Washington Monday to resume work on a deal to stop the so-called “fiscal cliff” — several prominent GOPers have backed off that pledge.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), VIA ABC’S “THIS WEEK”: “The only pledge we should be making to each other is to avoid becoming Greece. (FLASH) I will violate the pledge, long story short, for the good of the country...”

REP. PETER KING (R-NY), VIA NBC’S “MEET THE PRESS”: “The world has changed, and the economic situation is different.”

VIA CNN: “Senator Saxby Chambliss told CNN affiliate WMAZ quote ‘I care more about this country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge.’”

The pledge requires those who sign to oppose any and all tax increases. Before elections earlier this month, 238 out of 242 House Republicans had signed it — and all but 6 Republicans in the Senate took the pledge.

Those who violate the pledge stand to face negative ad campaigns funded by Norquist’s war chest. So why’s all this relevant now? Because the Bush-era tax cuts and a series of painful spending reductions will begin on January 1st unless lawmakers can come together on a more palatable package to reduce the deficit.

Democrats are demanding revenue be on the table — i.e., more money coming into government coffers from taxes.

But with a Republican majority in the House largely pledged NOT to raise taxes — the whole thing becomes a little more complicated. Until recently, with a seeming openness to violate Norquist’s pledge. But here’s the catch in all this: Republicans have signaled they won’t talk higher taxes without changes to programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Conservative blog The Daily Caller’s Jeff Poor writes, America will survive just fine with slightly higher taxes ... but we are fiscally doomed without serious entitlement reform.”

And Democrats aren’t interested in making cuts to social welfare programs. Which is why Politico’s Seung Min Kim says — more liberal members of Congress might advocate for actually letting the fiscal cliff happen, in order to give them an edge in negotiations.

“Here’s what these progressives fear: an agreement that keeps lower tax rates for the wealthy, hits the social safety net ... and leaves Pentagon spending unscathed. In other words, they’d rather walk the country off the cliff than ... cave on long-held liberal priorities.”

As it turns out there are elements of both sides that suggest letting the cliff happen. For his part, Grover Norquist has told Republicans, quote, “The only thing worse than sequester cuts is to not cut spending at all.” Lawmakers are expected to meet with President Obama this week.

Fiscal Cliff: GOP, Grover Norquist at Odds?

by Christina Hartman
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Transcript
Nov 26, 2012

Fiscal Cliff: GOP, Grover Norquist at Odds?

(Image source: CBS)

BY CHRISTINA HARTMAN

Grover Norquist has been called one of the most powerful men in Washington, whose infamous “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” opponents blame for holding Republican lawmakers hostage in deficit reduction negotiations.

But as lawmakers head back to Washington Monday to resume work on a deal to stop the so-called “fiscal cliff” — several prominent GOPers have backed off that pledge.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), VIA ABC’S “THIS WEEK”: “The only pledge we should be making to each other is to avoid becoming Greece. (FLASH) I will violate the pledge, long story short, for the good of the country...”

REP. PETER KING (R-NY), VIA NBC’S “MEET THE PRESS”: “The world has changed, and the economic situation is different.”

VIA CNN: “Senator Saxby Chambliss told CNN affiliate WMAZ quote ‘I care more about this country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge.’”

The pledge requires those who sign to oppose any and all tax increases. Before elections earlier this month, 238 out of 242 House Republicans had signed it — and all but 6 Republicans in the Senate took the pledge.

Those who violate the pledge stand to face negative ad campaigns funded by Norquist’s war chest. So why’s all this relevant now? Because the Bush-era tax cuts and a series of painful spending reductions will begin on January 1st unless lawmakers can come together on a more palatable package to reduce the deficit.

Democrats are demanding revenue be on the table — i.e., more money coming into government coffers from taxes.

But with a Republican majority in the House largely pledged NOT to raise taxes — the whole thing becomes a little more complicated. Until recently, with a seeming openness to violate Norquist’s pledge. But here’s the catch in all this: Republicans have signaled they won’t talk higher taxes without changes to programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Conservative blog The Daily Caller’s Jeff Poor writes, America will survive just fine with slightly higher taxes ... but we are fiscally doomed without serious entitlement reform.”

And Democrats aren’t interested in making cuts to social welfare programs. Which is why Politico’s Seung Min Kim says — more liberal members of Congress might advocate for actually letting the fiscal cliff happen, in order to give them an edge in negotiations.

“Here’s what these progressives fear: an agreement that keeps lower tax rates for the wealthy, hits the social safety net ... and leaves Pentagon spending unscathed. In other words, they’d rather walk the country off the cliff than ... cave on long-held liberal priorities.”

As it turns out there are elements of both sides that suggest letting the cliff happen. For his part, Grover Norquist has told Republicans, quote, “The only thing worse than sequester cuts is to not cut spending at all.” Lawmakers are expected to meet with President Obama this week.

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