Sen. Saxby Chambliss said last week that he’s willing to break a pledge never to raise taxes in any form.
“Times have changed significantly, and I care more about this country than I do about a 20-year old pledge,” he said in an interview with WMAZ-TV in Macon.
Sen. Chambliss was talking about the “fiscal cliff” and the pledge he made Grover Norquist, head of the powerful interest group “Americans for Tax Reform.”
(If a lawmaker ever disregards the pledge, Norquist funnels money into defeating that candidate.)
Now, Chambliss says he’s willing to risk a primary challenge, because he feels there’s no choice but to consider eliminating certain tax deductions and loopholes.
In a weekend press release, Norquist said the Senator made the tax pledge to Georgia’s citizens, not to him.
But Norquist hinted that Americans for Tax Reform would still hold Chambliss accountable, and that the Senator could well survive the primary but lose the general election in 2014.
The two-term incumbent Republican was re-elected with 57% of the vote in 2008 in a runoff, after failing to receive a simple majority in the general election.
He’s up for re-election in 2014.
The full-text of the press release reads:
Senator Chambliss promised the people of Georgia he would go to Washington and reform government rather than raise taxes to pay for bigger government. He made that commitment in writing to the people of Georgia.
If he plans to vote for higher taxes to pay for Obama-sized government he should address the people of Georgia and let them know that he plans to break his promise to them.
The Senator’s reference to me is odd. His promise is to the people of Georgia.
In February 2011 he wrote an open letter addressed to me when he joined the Gang of Six saying he would not vote for any plan that raised taxes. He would support only tax revenue that resulted from higher growth.
That was a public letter he and co-signers Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn and Idaho Senator Mike Crapo sent to the press to explain their negotiating position as they joined the Gang of Six in early 2011:
Note this excerpt, the final sentence of the letter:
“If and when there is a legislative proposal to be presented to Congress and the American people, we look forward to again working with you and all interested parties to support a proposal where any increase in revenue generation will be the result of the pro-growth effects of lower individual and corporate tax rates for all Americans.”
That is certainly a position I support and the only “plan” that I have endorsed is the Paul Ryan budget that brings the budget to balance and pays down the debt without any tax hikes.
Sen.Chambliss voted for the Ryan plan. I miss his point in trying to attack me.
Raising taxes on the people of Georgia to pay for Obama’s reckless spending is not the right thing to do for America or Georgia. We have a problem because Washington spends too much, not because Sen. Chambliss has failed so far to raise taxes on the hard-working men and women of Georgia.
Sen.Chambliss mentions his fear of losing a primary if he breaks his word to Georgians and votes to raise their taxes. History reminds us that when President George H.W. Bush raised taxes in a deal that promised (and did not deliver) spending cuts he was defeated not in the primary, but in the general.
When Democrat Sen.Ben Nelson of Nebraska violated his pledge to the American people, he would’ve won a primary battle. But he withdrew because polling showed he could not win a general election having both lied to his state and raised their taxes.
I would urge all Senators to oppose Obama’s budget that raises taxes on the American people and sets the stage for larger taxes in the future on energy that will hit all Americans and raise the cost of living while reducing the number and quality of jobs in America.
I hope and trust that Senator Chambliss will keep his promise to Georgia and not raise taxes on the people of Georgia.