As the nation heads toward the fiscal cliff, more Republicans are leaving anti-tax lobbyist Grover Norquist hanging. Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker was the latest to break away, saying the only pledge he’s standing by is the oath he takes in January.
Corker told “CBS This morning” on Monday that he owes Norquist no obligation.
“I am not obligated on the pledge,” Corker said. “The only thing I’m honoring is the oath I take when I serve when I’m sworn in this January.”
Norquist had managed to get almost every Republican lawmaker to pledge to not offer any support for tax hikes or deficit reduction coupled with revenue increases. But that was before the November election.
However, with every American set to be hit with a tax hike and deep government spending cuts next year, if there is no fiscal cliff solution, Republicans are walking away from that pledge, calling it outdated. Some even said the pledge is not the problem of today’s Congress.
Sens. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have said they care more about their country and that Republicans are willing to lower America’s debt with new tax revenues. President Barack Obama is hoping to get some of that new revenue by raising taxes on the wealthy.
Chambliss has said that doing things Norquist’s way will “continue in debt.”
Rep. Peter King, Republican of New York, spoke on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, saying he agrees “entirely” with Chambliss.
“A pledge you signed 20 years ago, 18 years ago, is for that Congress,” he said. “For instance, if I were in Congress in 1941, I would have signed a declaration of war against Japan. I’m not going to attack Japan today. The world has changed. And the economic situation is different. Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill realized that in the 1980s."
“I think everything should be on the table,” he added. “I myself am opposed to tax increases. The fact is that speaker and the majority in leader and the president are going to be in a room, trying to find the best package. I’m not going to prejudge it. And I’m just saying we should not be taking ironclad positions. I have faith in John Boehner. They can put together a good package.”
Boehner has said he is willing to work with Obama on finding the best solution. Obama said he is open to a comprise with Republicans but a proposal without a tax hike on the rich won’t be accepted.
"No Congress in history is more prepared to make these decisions," Corker said, noting Congress must have a long-term deal regarding the fiscal cliff. "We've litigated this; we've gone through every single score of every single decision that would have to be made."
Corker wrote in an op-ed-piece that the challenge faced is a "test of political courage."
However, other Republicans beg to differ, saying the pledge with Norquist is a "very important reminder" of the spending problem.
"I think it's very important," Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer told MSNBC's Chuck Todd. "I think it’s important for them to remember the problem that we have, which is a spending problem. ... So I think before -- for a lot of these members of Congress who have committed to saying the problem is spending, we need to reform our out-of-control entitlements, that's where the focus should be."