Several More Republicans Keeping Distance From Norquist
This morning, several more Republicans added their names to the list of members distancing themselves from anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist and his pledge committing members to oppose legislation raising taxes.
The newest additions to the list:
In the Philly area, Reps. Pat Meehan of Pennsylvania and Jon Runyan of New Jersey backed away from the pledge, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. "The most important pledge is the one I make to my constituents when I'm sworn in," Meehan said in a statement. "I'm going to do the very best I can to avoid the fiscal cliff and keep our economy strong."
And Runyan said in his own statement that the Norquist pledge "will not be a part of my decision-making process. I firmly believe that this discussion should allow for all ideas to be on the table and open for discussion, including spending cuts, entitlement reform, and increasing revenue."
In Minnesota, Reps. John Kline, Erik Paulsen, and the just-defeated Rep. Chip Cravaack are rethinking the pledge, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports. "Most people who signed that pledge would say that increasing revenues through lowering rates and simplifying the code is certainly consistent with what we thought we were signing on to," Kline said in an interview.
Paulsen said that "the details matter on what loopholes there would be or the tax revenue changes there would be."
None of the names come as a huge surprise. All the House members represent competitive districts where pragmatism plays well with their constituents. The bigger eyebrow-raiser on the tax front comes from conservative Louisiana Sen. David Vitter.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that Vitter said he's open "to a reasonable compromise that significantly lowers deficit and debt, particularly new revenue form upper income folks through fundamental tax reform combined with real and significant spending reform."
Meanwhile, Oklahoma Rep. and former NRCC chairman Tom Cole on Tuesday urged his colleagues to vote for extending the Bush tax cuts for everyone but the highest earners prior to the end of the year, Politico reports, and fight over the remaining cuts later -- but argues that position does not constitute not a violation of the pledge.