Friday, June 17, 2011

A GOP oath best kept in the breaking?

Grover Norquist continues to insist loudly that Republicans violate his "no new taxes ever" pledge when they vote to close out any given tax loophole without instituting a fresh tax cut to offset the extra revenue. The response below is emotionally satisfying but misleading in one important regard:
“Grover is embarrassed that 34 Republicans essentially told him to take a hike [by voting to end the ethanol tax subsidy] and rejected his narrow and ridiculous interpretation of what the pledge means,” one aide says. “He’s made a calculation that this is an existential threat to his lobbying livelihood. That’s what this is about, one desperate lobbyist.”
The problem is, Norquist's "interpretation" of his tax pledge, which almost every Republican in the House and Senate has signed, is not "ridiculous." It's not even an interpretation.  He is simply holding the GOP to the letter of the pledge:

Signers promise to oppose any tax increase as well as “any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.”
Republican lawmakers may reject the logic underpinning the pledge  -- last week, Coburn called tax breaks like the ethanol subsidy both a form of "spending" and an effective "tax increase" for those who don't benefit -- but they can't deny the plain meaning of what they signed.  If they want to put the country on a sustainable fiscal course, they are going to have break the pledge. They cannot interpret it away -- even if that's what originalists generally do when faced with an untenable scriptural prohibition.

Related posts:
Coburn: ending the ethanol subsidy is (half?) a tax cut
Did Tom Coburn just quadruple the debt ceiling ransom?
Writhing out of Norquist's embrace, Part IV
Forget Ryan - watch Coburn and Chambliss
Writhing out of Norquist's embrace, Part III
Chambliss Seizes the freedom to acknowledge that 2+2=4
Chambliss, Coburn, Crapo to Norquist: Kowtow or brush-off?

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