Delaware County Times
Some top Republican lawmakers are saying they are willing to stand up against a conservative lobbyist and consider raising more money through taxes as part of a deal with Democrats to avoid a catastrophic budget meltdown.
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said the only pledge he will keep is his oath of office. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said no one in his home state of Virginia is talking about what leaders in Washington refer to simply as “The Pledge,” an invention by Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform that dates to 1986. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., said he cares more about his country than sticking to Norquist’s pledge.
U.S. Pat Meehan, R-7, of Upper Darby, who was recently re-elected to his second term in Congress, signed Norquist’s no-tax-increase pledge.
Asked whether he would support standing up to Norquist if needed to strike a budget deal, Meehan said, “I’ve already taken positions that would support taking in other revenues.”
“The most important pledge is the one I make to my constituents when I’m sworn in,” he explained further in a statement. “I’m going to do the very best I can to avoid the fiscal cliff and keep our economy strong. I supported increased revenues when I supported Simpson-Bowles. I supported putting more revenue on the table when I signed the letter with 100 of my colleagues urging us to ‘go big’ on a debt deal.
“I think we can raise revenue through tax reform and closing loopholes, and not by hiking tax rates, which will cost 700,000 jobs at American small businesses. That’s what I campaigned on this fall, and it’s that promise to my constituents that will guide my efforts to bring Democrats and Republicans together to avoid the cliff.”
Norquist, the head of the conservative Americans for Tax Reform, opposes tax increases of any kind, whether eliminating deductions, a position some GOP lawmakers say they’re open to, 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, R-Ohio, has called that notion unrealistic and has dismissed Norquist as “some random person.”
Meehan and some other Republicans lawmakers, including Boehner, support raising revenue through tax reform and closing loopholes instead of raising tax rates on wealthy Americans.
Meehan said he attended a bipartisan meeting Wednesday with Erskine Bowles, chief of staff under former Democratic President Bill Clinton, and former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., with the “Fix the Debt” coalition to discuss ways Republicans and Democrats can work together to avoid the fiscal cliff.