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GOP softening stance on anti-taxation pledge page 2


 Activist Grover Norquist vowed to drive Republicans out of office if they didn't pledge to oppose tax increases.
FILE/J. Scott Applewhite/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Date published: 11/27/2012

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Norquist, the head of the conservative Americans for Tax Reform, opposes tax increases of any kind, whether eliminating deductions or raising rates. He has insisted on hardline positions from lawmakers and, for years, has held outsized sway in the party for someone who does not hold public office. His pledge doesn't allow any change to the tax code that adds a dollar to revenues.

House Speaker John Boehner has called that notion unrealistic and has dismissed Norquist as "some random person."

Nevertheless, Norquist has maintained a certain level of clout for years.

Heading into the 2012 elections, 279 lawmakers had signed Norquist's pledge, according to Americans for Tax Reform.

But some who have signed the pledge are having second thoughts. And when the new House is seated next year, no more than 212 of them consider themselves bound by the promise.

"I'm not obligated on the pledge," Corker told CBS News. "I was just elected. The only thing I'm honoring is the oath I take when I'm sworn in this January."

He's hardly alone in his stance on the pledge.

"When I go to the constituents that have re-elected me, it is not about that pledge," Cantor said on MSNBC. "It really is about trying to solve problems."

Chambliss, a veteran senator from Georgia, said he signed the pledge during an earlier campaign when the country's debt was nowhere near its current $16 trillion level.

"Times have changed significantly, and I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge," Chambliss told his local television station. "If we do it [Norquist's] way, then we'll continue in debt."

He added, "I'm frankly not concerned about the Norquist pledge."

Raising taxes is seldom a vote-winning strategy.

President George H.W. Bush broke his campaign promise to not raise taxes; he ended up losing re-election in 1992.

Other Republicans, however, now are willing to put tax increases on the table as a bargaining chip for a deal with Democrats over changes in Social Security and Medicare and to pare down federal deficits.

"I agree with Grover, we shouldn't raise rates. But I think Grover is wrong when it comes to we can't cap deductions and buy down debt," Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

"I will violate the pledge--long story short--for the good of the country, only if Democrats will do entitlement reform," he added.

Rep. Peter King of New York told Sunday's "Meet the Press" on NBC that the pledge is good for a two-year term only.

"A pledge you signed 20 years ago, 18 years ago, is for that Congress," King said. "For instance, if I were in Congress in 1941, I would have signed a support of declaration of war against Japan. I'm not going to attack Japan today. The world has changed, and the economic situation is different."

And Sen. John McCain, his party's presidential nominee in 2008, said the pledge is losing its clout.

"Fewer and fewer people are signing this, quote, pledge," he told an audience recently.


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