For decades now, nearly all Republican members of Congress and GOP candidates for those seats have been signing pledges put in front of them by lobbyist and conservative activist Grover Norquist, who extracts promises that they will not vote to raise taxes.
For the most part, especially in good times, it’s been a fairly easy sell for Norquist, and Republicans in Congress have displayed solidarity on the anti-tax front. But these are not good times, and with the country facing what is being called a “fiscal cliff,” some cracks in party unity are starting to appear.
And that’s a good thing.
No one wants to pay higher taxes, but if getting the deficit under control and conducting the nation’s business in a more responsible manner are the goals, it’s going to take more than just spending cuts to achieve them.
President Obama has proposed keeping the Bush tax cuts in place for the vast majority of Americans but allowing them to expire for the very wealthy as one way to generate revenue. Republicans, to this point, have opposed such a move, but there are indications that at least some of them are willing to deal, Norquist’s pledges be damned.
Appearing over the weekend on ABC’s “This Week,” South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said, “The only pledge we should be making to each other is to avoid becoming Greece. And Republicans should put revenue on the table.”
In an interview a few days earlier, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., said, “I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge.”
These are encouraging statements, and we would hope that more on the Republican side would recognize that cooperation and compromise are not dirty words, and that by working with the president and Democrats in Congress, a way forward can be found in which everyone will bear a bit of the pain but also have reason to believe that brighter days are ahead.