If it isn’t bad enough that the House Republicans are taking marching orders from conservative talk radio hosts on the budget discussions now we have them being held hostage by Grover Norquist, the head of Americans for Tax Reform, because of “pledges” they signed to oppose any and all efforts to increase taxes.
Who the hell is Grover Norquis anyway? “Hell” being the operative word given the number of House members stupid enough to mortgage their soul to this devil in a “no taxes under any circumstances” pact. Why would so many Republicans allow themselves to be controlled by one man who doesn’t even hold a seat in Congresss? Their signed “pledges”are making it very difficult for Congress to compromise with the White House over the debt ceiling since Democrats insist spending cuts be paired with some revenue increases.
To understand Norquist’ motives consider his background. Norquist epitomizes the Republican elite. Unlike most tea party members who idolize him, Norquist grew up wealthy in Massachusetts. He went to Harvard for both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Norquist never ever held a real job only working in political organizations since his time at Harvard. He was handpicked by the Reagan Administration to run Americans for Tax Reform to help pass tax reform in the ‘80s. Since then, signing Norquist’s “no new taxes” pledge has become a rite of passage for Republican candidates hoping to prove their conservative credentials to voters. Like most conservatives, Norquist wants smaller government with less of “their” tax dollars going to education programs, or programs for seniors or social programs for the poor. Norquist insists on a tax policy that favors that circle of wealth and privilege that he comes from to the detriment of America and at the cost and expense of America’s poor and middle class.
This writer believes that any politician that has pledged anything other than their oath to the Constitution is not worthy of their position to represent his constituents. They are elected to represent us, and uphold the Constitution including those articles that that relate to protecting America’s general welfare including those on “taxation”. Section 8 of Article I states:
“The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States…”
Throughout U.S. history legislators have done what is needed – including taxation- to keep America strong and fiscally healthy in accordance with their oath of office. Now along comes Grover Norquist and his pledge:
I,____________, pledge to the taxpayers of the _____ district of the State of _________ and to the American People that I will: ONE, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses; and TWO, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.
The Norquist pledge is not only in direct conflict with each House member’s sworn pledge to the Constitution it’s just plain stupid. To handcuff yourself in this way when it’s your sworn duty to make decisions in the best interest of the public in a constantly changing political and economic landscape reeks of bad judgment. The pledge is a failure of an oath of responsible governance. No government official elected to represent us should ever sign a pledge to honor any ideology or in support of or against any policy. The real irony is that those who proclaim an undying allegiance to the Constitution, choose instead to flout it.