From the Star Tribune:
WASHINGTON — Lawmakers looking for a way around the year-end budget impasse known as the “fiscal cliff” might get some help from some Minnesota Republicans who are signaling a crack in the long-standing GOP anti-tax pledge.
U.S. Reps. John Kline and Erik Paulsen, both potential Senate candidates in 2014, say they would consider raising new tax revenue by closing “special interest loopholes” in the tax code as part of a deficit deal that significantly cuts spending.
Also signing on to a tax loophole strategy is recently defeated Minnesota Republican Chip Cravaack, whose single term ends after the current lame-duck session of Congress.
And Michele Bachmann? No. At this writing, she’s sticking with Grover Norquist and that “trip over the fiscal cliff.”
How about Kline, Paulsen, and Cravaack? Does closing “special interest tax loopholes” constitute breaking Norquist’s “no new taxes” pledge? Well–yeah…
Norquist’s pledge (which these Republican legislators signed) says that signer pledges to:
Oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.
…and Kline, Paulsen, and Cravaack are in effect announcing that they’re going to stop “opposing any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits.” In fact: they’re going to support reducing or eliminating some deductions and/or credits.
So they are indeed supporting tax hikes.
If they follow through, that’s three more defections from the pledge; three more cracks in Norquist’s twenty five year reign of terror over the Republican Party.
The Strib article is funny to read, because you get hear John Kline explain why the pledge he took and campaigned on is now “open to interpretation.” And you get to hear Erik Paulsen explain that the pledge doesn’t really count for him–because he signed it as “a member of the Minnesota Legislature, not as a member of Congress.”
How would these guys have done this year if they’d weasel-worded like that–*prior* to the election?
We’ll never know. But this episode is more evidence of what we knew all along: conservative voters–can’t trust conservative Republicans–to keep their word.
Of course the rest of us are glad that Kline, Paulsen, and Cravaack are considering breaking the pledge. It’s the right thing to do: as a “small government” measure, the pledge is both meaningless and destructive because it never required signer-politicians to renounce spending or borrowing.
Will Michele eventually cave, too? I would bet “no,” but you can’t ever be sure with her. For example: she told her constituents and the American public that big government was broke–at the same time she was requesting more federal deficit spending in her district. So her word, on matters of principle–is meaningless.
Despite what she says and despite what her legions of supporters believe–conservative “principle” and “freedom” have nothing to do with it. Her career is really all about “political advantage for Michele Bachmann.”
And that is how she will make the call, on abiding by her pledge or breaking it.