Saxby Chambliss Draws Backlash After Abandoning Grover Norquist Tax Pledge

Saxby Chambliss has drawn some sharp words from Grover Norquist and the ire of tax groups after abandoning the”no new taxes” pledge set forth by Norquist.

For years Republicans in Congress have had a near-obligation to sign Norquist’s “no new taxes” pledge, but after President Obama’s resounding victory over Mitt Romney and Democrats gains in the House and Senate, many have backed off. One of the most vocal members to abandon the Norquist tax pledge is Saxby Chambliss, the Senator from Georgia.

As The Huffington Post noted, Chambliss is part of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” that is looking for a framework of deficit reduction that can suit both Republicans and Democrats. Though Chambliss had been a signatory to Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge in the past, he now says he needs to take a more realistic approach to deficit reduction.

“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 in acknowledging that he’ll probably face a backlash from Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform. “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.”

Saxby Chambliss was right on his prediction that there would be backlash. One day after speaking out against the pledge, Saxby drew a rebuke from Norquist on CNN’s The Situation Room.

“If he wants to change his mind and become a tax increaser so we don’t have to reform government, he needs to have that conversation with the people of Georgia,” Norquist said.

Norquist also noted that when it was time for re-election, Chambliss was in favor of the tax pledge.

“He got elected and re-elected making that commitment,” said Norquist. “He’s never promised me anything.”

The backlash continued with other right-leaning news sites.

“To call Chambliss an idiot is to insult people of lower intelligence,” blogger Judson Phillips of Tea Party Nation wrote. “Chambliss is a poster child for every thing that is wrong with the political class in Washington.”

Saxby Chambliss does have the support of a growing number of Republicans abandoning Grover Norquist’s tax pledge. Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma has also questioned whether the pledge is still relevant in light of the sheer size of the debt the nation is facing. As Reutersreported this week, at least 16 Republicans in the new Congress are not signing the pledge, up from only six in the outgoing Congress.