John Avlon Independent Nation

11.26.12

Republicans Break Ranks With Grover Norquist

An increasing number of Republican lawmakers are breaking ranks with the tax hawk, and declaring their independence from his pledge.

More and more Republicans are saying they will violate Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge, and it’s about time, I write in my latest column for CNN:

“This post-election outbreak of pragmatism is welcome and needed. These senators and congressmen are profiles in courage for speaking out against the stranglehold that one self-appointed activist and lobbyist has had on bipartisan governing.”

Norquist, a conservative activist and leader of Americans for Tax Reform, has long had a stranglehold on legislators in the GOP who might otherwise be willing to compromise on ways to increase revenue. Now, with the fiscal cliff looming, it looks as though the party might be able to break his grip. That could go a long way toward breaking partisan gridlock:

“The biggest stumbling block for tea party conservatives has been Norquist, who says any new revenue violates the pledge and promises to invite a primary challenge to any member of Congress who puts revenues on the table. Given the number of safe seats carved up in the rigged system of redistricting, a primary challenge from the wings is what most members of Congress fear most. The result is gridlock: an inability to reason together and make a long-term deal for the good of the country.

“It is an ironic problem in some ways: Tea party congressmen rose to power on a promise to deal with deficits and debt. Putting anti-tax absolutism ahead of that goal may play well with special interests, but it undercuts the ability to govern in the national interest. That's what is at stake.”

Read the rest at CNN.