Georgia’s Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss ripped into anti-tax activist Grover Norquist over his “no new taxes” promise this week. According to Chambliss, the pledge has halted progress toward finding a solution to the looming fiscal cliff.
Chambliss is a member of the new “Gang of Eight,” a group of politicians seeking a bipartisan solution to deficit reduction. He’s also a signatory of Norquist’s pledge (which he has criticized in the past) and said Wednesday that he’s not concerned by the potential for backlash over his pointed criticism.
“I care too much about my country — I care a lot more about it than I do about Grover Norquist,” Chambliss told Georgia’s WMAZ. “Norquist has no plan to pay this debt down. His plan says you continue to add to the debt, and I just have a fundamental disagreement about that and I’m willing to do the right thing and let the political consequences take care of themselves.”
Norquist and his ilk have swayed Republicans in Congress for many years, but recent election results seem to have weakened support for the pledge. A growing contingency of GOP lawmakers have recently argued against Norquist’s pledge, especially as the hard reality of the fiscal cliff races toward us.
According to Reuters, at least 16 Republicans of the new Congress have taken a pass on the pledge, up from six in the outgoing Congress.
Despite these blocks, even from members of his own part, Norquist says that his influence in the GOP is still strong. According to The New York Times, Norquist counts “219 House members — enough for a majority — and 39 senators” as committed to his pledge.
“It’s been 22 years since a Republican voted for a tax increase in this town,” Norquist said. “This is not my first rodeo.”