Against Norquist’s Pledge and Chambliss’ Openness to Tax Hikes

I recently wrote that “As conservatives, we should not be ideological. We should assess situations separately, judging them on their own merit….” I was speaking of our tendency to act like liberals by making big deals out of small gaffes from the President.

But what I said likewise applies to conservative’s fiscal views: they should not be ideological. Conservatism does not mean taking a hardline stance.

Take taxes, for instance. Conservatism does not mean taxes should be taken off the negotiating table. Conservatism means sound fiscal policy. We assess (or at least we should) every situation before determining what is the most fiscally sound way to address it.

Grover Norquist is the head of the conservative group Americans for Tax Reform. He asks that all Republicans officials sign his Taxpayer Protection Pledge, essentially an agreement never to vote for a tax hike of any kind. Such a pledge, however, is not just a pledge never to raise taxes, but also a pledge never to thoroughly analyze whatever financial situation America finds itself in.

In comes Saxby Chambliss, a Republican senator from Georgia. He signed the pledge 20 years ago when he ran for office, but now says that he is open to any means necessary to raise revenues–that is, open to voting for a tax increase.

Predictably, and understandably, conservatives are none too happy about this. They believe it represents Chambliss’s crossing a line over which he cannot come back, finalizing his transformation into a RINO–a Republican In Name Only.

As conservatives, we should always be open to hearing all arguments; otherwise, we are ideologues. It does not mean we must ever agree to raise taxes, only that we listen to the argument.

The problem as I see it is not that Chambliss is “open” to the possibility of raising taxes, but that those tax hikes would come at the federal level and affect the income tax, which is a tax that is not only harmful but unconstitutional.

The other problem is that Chambliss is a US senator, not a state senator, and I think taxes should be dealt with on a state-by-state basis. If Georgia wants to raise its sales tax to address its financial problems after a thorough analytical discussion of all options, and after it has been determined that a tax increase is the most fiscally sound way to address those problems, so be it.

So whereas some say Chambliss has got to go because he’s open to raising taxes, I say he has got to go because he’s open to raising taxes at the federal level.

In summary, yes, get Chambliss out of there.