Chambliss Signals Possible GOP Surrender on Tax Hikes

Thirty-eight Senators and 219 House members have signed Grover Norquist’s famed anti-tax "Taxpayer Protection Pledge," which has been instrumental in preventing politicians from increasing taxes. But after Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) indicated on Wednesday to a Georgia television station that he would not abide by the pledge, conservatives are insisting Republicans in the House and Senate be more resolute on taxes during the upcoming fiscal cliff negotiations.

Chambliss said he cared “more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge,” and he indicated he was open to voting for tax increases. Other establishment Republicans, such asWeekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, have also called on Republicans to cave on holding the line on tax increases. 

Chambliss said he had a “disagreement” with Norquist on taxes and believed “Norquist has no plan to pay this debt down” while Chambliss was “"willing to do the right thing and let the political consequences take care of themselves."

Chambliss is up for reelection in 2014 and is especially vulnerable in a Republican primary. Multiple contenders are lining up to challenge him. Chambliss’s public statements are even worse when one considers conservatives pushed him across the finish line in 2008 in a tough run-off election against Georgia Democrat Jim Martin. Conservatives donated money to his campaign--and the Chambliss campaign, well-aware that nobody influences voters in red states more than Sarah Palin, asked Palin to campaign with him down the stretch. 

If Chambliss votes to raise taxes, he will most likely be held to account by many of the Tea Party voters that supported his candidacy in 2008 in the 2014 primary. 

On the House side, Iowa Rep. Steve King insisted on Sean Hannity's radio show that everyone who has pledged not to raise taxes must stand firm because he thinks Obama wants to take the country off the fiscal cliff because Obama is a “Keynesian economist on steroids" at heart. 

King recounted Obama’s words to the House Republican conference in February of 2009 when Obama told them that he believed Franklin Delano Roosevelt did not engage in enough deficit spending, which Obama believed prevented the country from getting out of the depression more quickly.

King said he looked into Obama’s eyes and knew Obama believed what he was saying. King noted that “if anybody believes that, they will try to borrow and spend” taxpayer dollars to prosperity, which would only lead to a more socialist "economy and government.”

King insisted that 218 Republicans in the House needed to be "resolute" and “hold our ground and refuse to pass anything that has a tax increase in it.”

According to King, Republicans had once had an “opportunity” after the historic 2010 midterm elections in which the Tea Party propelled Republicans back to power in the House to challenge Obama on things like funding for Obamacare and raising the debt ceiling.

King said Republicans backed down after the 2010 elections, when they had a stronger hand to play, and “it’ll take the strongest of leadership” to not do so during the fiscal cliff negotiations.

Obama has insisted that he would not sign any agreement that does not include raising taxes on those making over $250,000. Most Republicans woud like the extend the Bush tax cuts for all Americans. 


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