A Republican House of Representatives member on Tuesday ripped into anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist and his tax pledge, questioning his association with unsavory people like disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
U..S. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., on the House floor lambasted Norquist and his group, Americans for Tax Reform, for the influence they have in Washington. Wolf said the pledge has stymied work on reforming the tax code to get rid of tax earmarks.
I believe how the pledge is interpret and enforced by Mr. Norquist is a roadblock to realistically reforming our tax code, Wolf said. Have we really reached a point where one person's demand for ideological purity is paralyzing Congress to the point that even a discussion of tax reform is viewed as breaking a no-tax pledge?
Does Norquist Advocate A Stifling Ideological Purity?
Norquist's pledge is popular among the GOP. To read a list of those who signed the anti-tax pledge is to practically see a roster of Republicans in Congress.
Wolf is one of six House Republicans in the current Congress who refused to sign a pledge promising never to raise taxes. There are seven Republican Senators who also refused to sign. Three Democrats in Washington have signed the pledge.
Aside from the sway Norquist holds on the Hill, Wolf also criticized his alleged ties to terrorist financiers and his relationship with Abramoff, who went to jail for fraud, tax evasion and conspiring to bribe public officials.
Simply put, I believe Mr. Norquist is connected with or has profited from a number of unsavory people and groups out of the mainstream, Wolf said. I also believe Mr. Norquist has used the ATR pledge as leverage to advance other issues many Americans would find inappropriate, and when taken as a whole, should give people pause.
Norquist brushed off the criticism from Wolf, telling The New York Times that the pledge is an agreement between elected officials and their constituency. He also said that tax reform is possible without breaking the pledge, as long as there is not a net tax increase, The Times reported.