“I care more about this country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge. If we do it his way then we’ll continue in debt, and I just have a disagreement with him about that. Grover Norquist has no plan to pay this debt down. His plan says you continue to add to the debt. I just have a fundamental disagreement with him about that.”
With these televised words, Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss spoke what has been heresy for the past couple of decades amidst Republican elected officials and candidates. Chambliss, a Republican, didn’t say he would raise taxes, but he did stand up to Grover Norquist and his anti-tax lobbying group, Americans for Tax Reform.
Chambliss effectively made a Declaration of Independence from his pledge to Norquist and the ATR. A handful of powerful congressional Republicans have followed Chambliss’ lead in the past week.
Essentially, Norquist and the ATR have required Republicans in office and seeking office to promise not to raise taxes or create new taxes unless matched dollar for dollar with tax rate cuts.
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Norquist’s successful tactics of intimidation and Republicans’ loyalty to the Americans for Tax Reform pledge have led some pundits to call Grover Norquist the most powerful man in Washington.
We elect our leaders to lead. There was a time we elected leaders with the hope they would do the courageous thing, even if it meant going against the grain. Especially if it meant endangering their political careers.
Georgians should remember, the senator has not raised taxes. He has said he would not be shackled by the pledge -- he would no longer give allegiance to Norquist -- if the time comes when raising some taxes is best for the country.
We need leaders who will put what they believe is best for the country before their political parties and their careers. Our leaders’ pledges should be to doing what they truly believe is best for the country and not what is best for one lobbyist or one group.
We believe Saxby Chambliss deserves credit for being what he was elected to be -- a leader. If people disagree with Chambliss’ actions in the coming months then it should be the people of Georgia who decide his political fate -- not Grover Norquist.