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Republican pledge breakers are role models

Reed Schneider, Opinion Writer
December 12, 2012
Filed under Opinion, Top Stories

The countdown has begun. While Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate continue to argue over taxes and spending cuts, the U.S. hurtles headlong towards the ever-looming fiscal cliff.

A growing number of Republicans have shown their willingness to compromise by standing against one of the GOP’s ideals, but they only have until the end of the year.

According to CNN, the Budget Control Act will require automatic spending cuts Jan. 2, two days after the Bush-era tax cuts are set to expire. This situation can be averted if President Barack Obama and Congress act soon.

That is the root of the dilemma the government faces, according to the Huffington Post.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid relayed his doubts on a compromise being made with the approach of the fiscal cliff.

“These are the same Republicans with whom Democrats are supposed to reach an agreement to protect middle-class families from a tax increase,” Reid said. “It’s difficult to engage in rational negotiation when one side holds well-known facts and proven truths in such low esteem.”

The resistance to compromise derives from one man — Grover Norquist. According to the New York Times, Norquist maintains he is the creator of what Republicans call the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

Signing it means the representative will never vote for a tax increase, and Republicans are pressured to sign it for support.

Never raising taxes may seem a noble stride, but it’s a hopelessly idealistic one. And many Republicans are beginning to realize that.

According to CNN, Republican Sens. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, along with Sen. Peter King of New York, have signed the Pledge and are now rebelling against Norquist. King spoke on NBC on the flaws of the Pledge.

“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 the declaration of war against Japan. I’m not going to attack Japan today. The world has changed. The economic situation is different.”

This is a positive sign in the shadow of the fiscal cliff. It suggests the possibility of a compromise.

GOP Sen. Roy Blunt also recently spoke about the negotiations. According to the Huffington Post, he had ideas when asked about raising marginal tax rates on incomes more than $250,000.

“I think I’m unlikely to do that,” Blunt said. “But if we had real long-term entitlement reform that would offset the negative economic impact of raising tax rates, that’s something to talk about and that’s the deal.”

Blunt is not the only one with ideas for reform. Graham said on ABC if Democrats are willing to assist in passing spending reforms, he would be willing to break the Pledge.

This is the type of cooperation Congress needs at this moment. Both the Democratic and Republican parties need to relinquish their stubborn attitudes and find a way to negotiate.

The Republicans want to seek a way through the problem by cuts in government spending, and the Democrats want to marginally raise taxes to create government revenue.

Yet, if they don’t find a middle ground, the fiscal cliff will make both happen, causing a recession.

Along with the spending reforms Graham and other lawmakers request from Democrats, Graham has valuable insight on a solution.

“It’s fair to ask my party to put revenue on the table. We’re below historic averages,” Graham said. “I will not raise tax rates to do it. I will cap deductions. If you cap deductions around the $30,000 to $40,000 range, you can raise $1 trillion in revenue, and the people who lose their deductions are the upper-income Americans.”

While he doesn’t want to raise taxes, the deduction caps fall under a technicality in Norquist’s pledge. Norquist, according to CNN, has vowed to go after every pledge-breaker, but I think every pledge-breaker is a role model.

The senators and representatives standing up against the GOP’s pledge are making a statement.

The value of the economy and the government as a whole is greater than the value of one party alone.