On Monday, anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist insisted that his movement was as strong as ever and that Congress would withstand pressure to raise taxes even if more Republican lawmakers are spurning his anti-tax pledge.
A vast majority of elected Republicans have signed Norquist’s “taxpayer protection pledge,” launched in 1986, which commits them to voting against tax increases, and it became a sort of litmus test among U.S. conservatives.
But the new House of Representatives, which takes office in January, has 16 Republicans who so far have not signed the pledge, up from six in the outgoing Congress. One new Republican senator, Jeff Flake, also has not signed.
Speaking on the sidelines of a Washington event, Norquist told Reuters: “People don’t always take the pledge first when they run. A lot take it after they have been there for a while. The pledge isn’t the only vehicle for stopping tax increases.”
Norquist predicted House Republicans would withstand pressure from Democratic President Barack Obama to raise taxes.Obama won re-election this month on a promise to raise tax rates on the wealthiest households while extending low tax rates for most other taxpayers down the income ladder.
As Democrats gained seats in the both the 100-member Senate and the 435-member House with some Republicans softening their opposition to raising new tax revenue. Yet the U.S. Treasury Department has said it will have enough funds to avoid the ceiling until near the end of the year, and experts say they can use accounting maneuvers to delay the limit beyond that.
Some Republicans have assailed Norquist for his intransigence on tax increases. Former Republican Senator Alan Simpson, co-chairman of the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction commission, last week lambasted Republican supporters of the anti-tax pledge.