Americans for Tax Reform Did Not Help Boehner
On Friday, the morning after House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) could not get enough Republican votes to pass his "Plan B" proposal to raise the marginal tax rate on those making over $1 million, Boehner said Republicans who would not vote for his "Plan B" were afraid they would be "perceived as having raised taxes." Boehner said these Republicans were afraid "somebody might accuse them of raising taxes."
Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), the anti-tax group that administers the famed "Taxpayer Protection Pledge," however, did give Republicans who were considering voting for Boehner's "Plan B" cover by proclaiming on Wednesday that the organization would "not consider a vote for this measure a violation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge."
In a statement, ATR said the group "has consistently maintained that individual Members of Congress make a pledge to their constituents to oppose and vote against tax increases," but that "this legislation—popularly known as 'Plan B' --permanently prevents a tax increase on families making less than $1 million per year."
"Republicans supporting this bill are this week affirming to their constituents in writing that this bill—the sole purpose of which is to prevent tax increases—is consistent with the pledge they made to them," the group wrote. "In ATR’s analysis, it is extremely difficult—if not impossible—to fault these Republicans’ assertion."
The group noted that that the House had already voted twice "to prevent any tax increases on any American" during this Congress. ATR then emphasized, on a technicality, the bill contains "no tax increases of any kind" because Boehner was simply letting some tax cuts expire.
"Having finally seen actual legislation in writing, ATR is now able to make its determination about a legislative proposal related to the fiscal cliff," the organization said. "ATR will not consider a vote for this measure a violation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge."
After Norquist was accused of breaking his own pledge and using technicalities to claim Plan B's tax increases were not tax increases, the group then amended the statement to say that is "not to be misconstrued as an endorsement of any legislation."
Even the air cover ATR provided Boehner could not help him sell "Plan B" to conservative Republican House Members who did not want to raise taxes on Americans.