More Republicans have recently followed in the footsteps of Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) in arguing that they are no longer bound to the Americans for Tax Reform pledge to not raise taxes because they did not renew their pledge during the previous election. Both political parties are struggling to find a way to reduce budget deficits. A compromise bill could mean that some Americans would pay more in taxes.
Americans for Tax Reform, headed by Grover Norquist, have played an important role in the debates over reducing the size of the nation's ballooning budget deficits because of its pledge, which has been signed by almost every House Republican.
No Republican has supported increasing tax rates, but there has been some discussion of increased tax revenue that could come from eliminating some tax deductions and credits. Reforming the tax code by lowering rates and reducing deductions could mean that some, who enjoy many deductions today, could end up paying more in taxes. Norquist has said that any increased revenue would be a violation of the pledge.
Simpson co-authored a letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction asking the committee to keep “all options on the table” to reduce the nation's deficits. When asked about his signing of the ATR pledge on “Fox News Sunday” this past Sunday, Simpson laughed and said, “I signed that in 1998 when I first ran. I didn't know I was signing a marriage agreement that would last forever.”
Later this week, more Republicans made the same argument, saying they considered the pledge to only be valid for one term. Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio) signed the pledge in 1994, but asked to be removed from the list during the previous election. He is still listed as a signer of the pledge on the ATR website.
“My driver’s license expires. The milk in my refrigerator expires. My gym membership expires, and I find the website to be a little deceptive,” LaTourette told The Hill on Wednesday.
“Does that even pass the laugh test? A promise not to do something doesn’t have a time limit. I haven’t even had junior state legislators pull that crap,” Norquist told The Hill.
Simpson pointed out that ATR send him requests to renew his pledge every two years. “If it sticks with you forever, why do they ask you to re-sign it every two years?”
Reps. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.), Howard Coble (R-N.C.), Pete King (R-N.Y.) and Lee Terry (R-Neb.) also told The Hill that they no longer consider themselves bound by the pledge because they had not renewed it.
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) also seemed open to revenue increases to reduce deficits in a Sunday interview on ABC's “This Week.”
“I believe that we can create revenue out of fixing our tax code, and bring that revenue to the table, as long as our colleagues on the other side of the aisle are serious about cutting spending,” Boehner said.