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Insiders Weigh In on No-Tax Pledge, Fiscal Cliff Insiders Weigh In on No-Tax Pledge, Fiscal Cliff

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Insiders Weigh In on No-Tax Pledge, Fiscal Cliff

November 15, 2012

Is the GOP’s no-tax pledge politically harmful to the party?


Very harmful: 57%
Somewhat harmful: 38%
Not harmful: 5%

Very harmful


“There weren’t a lot of mandates in this election, but problem solving was one of them—they now have room to honor that mandate without completely offending their base voters.”

“It reinforces the mindless rigidity of the party, which borders on irrational.”

“How can they possibly not see the inanity of their position on no increases for the extremely wealthy?”

“While it plays well with 30 percent of the country, it tells the other 70 percent that the GOP is not serious about shared sacrifice to address the deficit and debt.”

“Where the Republicans were perceived as dogmatic and rigid, they got slaughtered. This is issue numero uno on the dogma scale.”

“The new giant sucking sound in Washington is GOP representatives abandoning Grover Norquist.”

“It is not possible to be faithful to the pledge and reduce the deficit and pay down the debt.”

Somewhat harmful

“It’s not tenable in the current fiscal climate. The longer they look like they’re protecting Richie Rich’s piggy bank, the worse it will get for them.”

“In the long run, it is harmful toward creating a governing majority, but in the short run, it did help them keep the House (in gerrymandered districts).”

“Blindly rejecting everything as a legislative strategy is so 2010.”

“It didn’t work out so well for George H.W. Bush, and that was pre-tea party.”

Not harmful

“It’s bad policy to oppose taxes, but it’s like saying that you’re opposed to chest colds.”



Is the GOP’s no-tax pledge politically harmful to the party?


Very harmful: 10%
Somewhat harmful: 39%
Not harmful: 51%

Very harmful

“The hard-liners fail to recognize the extreme complexity of the tax code and that a no-tax pledge will destroy our chances to get fundamental reform.”

“We can’t begin to address the serious problems this country has by being totally rigid on tax policy or any other policy for that matter.”

Somewhat harmful

“It’s too broad and constrains the party’s political dexterity.”

“This depends entirely on how the GOP is positioned. If it is defending the rich, then we are dead.”

“We can no longer just be the party of ‘no,’ whether it’s on immigration reform or digging out of the fiscal hole we’re in.”

“Losing the antitax high ground would destroy a major political advantage—we’ll never win a Halloween-style goodie handout contest, so we have to have something to offer voters.”

Not harmful

“As [Speaker John] Boehner keeps saying but Obama doesn’t seem to understand or just doesn’t want to, raising taxes on small-business job creators in this sluggish economy is not smart. It’s dumb.”

“Know what’s politically harmful? Breaking the pledge. Ask Bush 41.”

“If Republicans cave on taxes, then what do we become? The party opposed to abortion? Taxes and spending have always been the bed­rock of the GOP—caving on taxes could put us in the minority for generations.”

“Every time Democrats snooker Republicans into raising taxes, the results have been disastrous. Bush 41 admitted it was a mistake. California Gov. Pete Wilson admitted it was a mistake. How many times does Lucy have to pull the football back before we learn?”

“Good grief. What are we for if not limited government?”

“Any Republican who surrenders on this issue should turn in his badge.”



Broadly speaking, should your party agree to a major compromise to avoid the fiscal cliff?


Yes: 69%
No: 31%


“Hell, yes. Election is over—act like adults and prevent another market crash and recession.”

“This is not the time for chest thumping on either side.”

“Voters want collaboration and compromise. See, e.g., the governor of New Jersey and the president of the United States putting aside their disagreements on the issues to work together to help make government work for people in need.”

“Not doing so will be the first step toward another careening of the electorate in 2014.”

“Yes. As long as it’s perceived as mutual, my party needs to be part of the solution.”

“I want to say no, but I have to say yes, because the country can’t afford to lose economic momentum now. If ever there was a politically feasible time to make a run for it, though, now’s the time. Unfortunately, the top 2 percent will be the ones with parachutes either way. Gotta say yes.”

“A compromise, yes, but not submission.”

“Democrats are prepared to support the president in a grand bargain to reduce the debt if revenues are on the table.”

“Democrats who are unwilling to compromise will face voter ire in 2014.”

“In theory, I favor a deal if wealthy Americans and corporations pay their fair share. At that point, we can talk about raising the eligibility age for, and means-testing, Social Security.”


“We won; time to stand up for the principles the voters agreed upon.”

“I think Obama and the Democrats need to be very careful on what they give away on Medicare.”

“That would be bad politics and bad policy. This is a trifecta; stand firm, fortify the base, and do what’s right for America.”

“I don’t know what ‘major’ means—but if it means jettisoning Social Security, we shouldn’t.”

“Any compromise that includes tax breaks for the wealthy, cuts in Medicare or Social Security, or serious cuts in children, education, health care, or veterans should be off the table. Democrats had some of the biggest victories they have had in years, and it was [by] running against the proposals likely to be in a big compromise.”


Broadly speaking, should your party agree to a major compromise to avoid the fiscal cliff?


Yes: 75%
No: 25%


“If ‘major’ means putting real revenue on the table in exchange for real entitlement reform, then yes.”

“Good government and good politics converge on this one.”

“Avoiding a total disaster while acting like grown-ups has to be good politics.”

“No change on rates. Tax reform. Real entitlement reform. Some defense spending cuts and domestic cuts as well. President has to change his leadership style and sell a comprehensive package.”

“Politically generated crises generally backfire. Just ask Newt, who shut down the government in 1995.”

“In theory, yes. But raising taxes may also result in a recession, so the devil is in the details.”

“We should cave on higher rates for real millionaires (not the Obama ‘millionaires’ who make between $200K and $1M). In return, we should demand more in spending cuts than we would have dared had Romney won.”

“The Democrats need to respect that we aren’t giving in on tax rates—and need to see that we have already signaled a revenue compromise via eliminating upper-income deductions.”

“Obama has won the tax argument but still has little credibility on spending. Republicans should give but not allow a redo of the Bush-Gephardt fiasco in 1990.”


“We don’t own D.C. now, so no rush to compromise. Become the party of fiscal responsibility by insisting on an immediate spending reduction and glide path to entitlement reform. Anything else is simply lipstick on a pig.”

“This reminds me of the last grand compromise on taxes and budget. It cost Bush Sr. the White House and hurt congressional Republicans.”

“Despite public opinion, you cannot solve the problem without most of the solution coming from cuts. Neither the Democrats nor the public are ready to take the medicine. Apparently things are going to have to get much worse before realistic solutions will be considered.”

“Republicans should insist on meaningful entitlement reform as part of any major compromise. Otherwise, we would be compromising for no major reason.”

“I’d rather go over the cliff.”


Democratic Political Insiders Jill Alper, John Anzalone, Brad Bannon, Dave Beattie, Andy Bechhoefer, Cornell Belcher, Matt Bennett, Mitchell W. Berger, Mike Berman, Stephanie Bosh, Paul Brathwaite, Donna Brazile, Mark Brewer, Ed Bruley, George Bruno, Bonnie Campbell, Bill Carrick, Guy Cecil, Martin J. Chavez, Tony Coelho, Larry Cohen, Jerry Crawford, Brendan Daly, Jeff Danielson, Peter Daou, Howard Dean, Scott DeFife, Jim Demers, Tad Devine, David Di Martino, Debbie Dingell, Monica Dixon, Patrick Dorton, Pat Dujakovich, Anita Dunn, Jeff Eller, Steve Elmendorf, Carter Eskew, Vic Fazio, Peter Fenn, Scott Ferson, Jim Fleischmann, Tina Flournoy, Don Foley, Jeffrey Forbes, Vincent Frillici, Gina Glantz, Niles Godes, John Michael Gonzalez, Joe Grandmaison, Anna Greenberg, Stan Greenberg, Pat Griffin, Larry Grisolano, Michael Gronstal, Lisa Grove, Marcia Hale, Jill Hanauer, Dick Harpootlian, Paul Harstad, Laura Hartigan, Doug Hattaway, Mike Henry, Karen Hicks, Leo Hindery Jr., Harold Ickes, Marcus Jadotte, John Jameson, Steve Jarding, Jonathon Jones, Jim Jordan, Gale Kaufman, Lisa Kountoupes, Celinda Lake, David Lang, Penny Lee, Chris Lehane, Jeff Link, Bob Maloney, Jim Manley, Steve Marchand, Jim Margolis, Paul Maslin, Keith Mason, Susan McCue, Gerald McEntee, Steve McMahon, Tom McMahon, Phil McNamara, David Medina, Michael Meehan, Mark Mellman, John Merrigan, Michael Monroe, Steve Murphy, Janet Napolitano, David Nassar, Marcia Nichols, John Norris, Tom Ochs, Tom O’Donnell, Jeffrey Peck, Debora Pignatelli, Tony Podesta, Jefrey Pollock, Jack Quinn, Larry Rasky, Mame Reiley, Ed Rendell, Steve Ricchetti, Will Robinson, Steve Rosenthal, David Rudd, Ryan Rudominer, John Ryan, Michael Sargeant, Stephanie Schriock, Terry Shumaker, Sean Sinclair, Phil Singer, Erik Smith, Doug Sosnik, Greg Speed, Darry Sragow, Ken Strasma, Doug Thornell, Jeffrey Trammell, Ed Turlington, Rick Wiener, James Williams, JoDee Winterhof, Brian Wolff, Jon Youngdahl, and Jim Zogby.

GOP Political Insiders Dan Allen, Stan Anderson, Gary Andres, Saulius (Saul) Anuzis, Rich Ashooh, Whit Ayres, Brett Bader, Mitch Bainwol, Brian Baker, Gary Bauer, David Beckwith, Paul Bennecke, Clark Benson, Wayne Berman, Brian Bieron, Charlie Black, Kirk Blalock, Carmine Boal, Jeff Boeyink, Ron Bonjean, Jeff Buley, Luke Byars, Nick Calio, Al Cardenas, Danny Carroll, Alex Castellanos, Ron Christie, Jim Cicconi, Jonathan Collegio, Rob Collins, Cesar Conda, Jake Corman, Scott Cottington, Jay Cranford, Greg Crist, Diane Crookham-Johnson, Fergus Cullen, Tom Davis, Mike Dennehy, Ken Duberstein, Debi Durham, Sara Fagen, Frank Fahrenkopf, John Feehery, Don Fierce, Mindy Finn, Carl Forti, Alex Gage, Bruce A. Gates, Sam Geduldig, Adam Geller, Benjamin Ginsberg, David Girard-diCarlo, Bill Greener, Jonathan Grella, Lanny Griffith, Janet Mullins Grissom, Doug Gross, Todd Harris, Steve Hart, Christopher Healy, Ralph Hellmann, Chris Henick, Terry Holt, David Iannelli, Ed Ingle, Jim Innocenzi, Clark Judge, David Keating, David Kensinger, Bob Kjellander, Ed Kutler, Chris LaCivita, Jim Lake, Steven Law, Steve Lombardo, Kevin Madden, Joel Maiola, Gary Maloney, David Marin, Mary Matalin, Dan Mattoon, Brian McCormack, Mark McKinnon, Kyle McSlarrow, Ken Mehlman, Jim Merrill, Lisa Camooso Miller, Tim Morrison, Mike Murphy, Phil Musser, Ron Nehring, Terry Nelson, Neil Newhouse, David Norcross, Ziad Ojakli, Jack Oliver, Todd Olsen, Kevin O’Neill, Connie Partoyan, Billy Piper, Van B. Poole, Tom Rath, Scott Reed, David Rehr, Tom Reynolds, Steve Roberts, Jason Roe, David Roederer, Dan Schnur, Russ Schriefer, Rich Schwarm, Brent Seaborn, Rick Shelby, Andrew Shore, Kevin Shuvalov, Don Sipple, Ken Spain, Fred Steeper, Bob Stevenson, Terry Sullivan, David Tamasi, Eric Tanenblatt, Richard Temple, Heath Thompson, Jay Timmons, Warren Tompkins, Ted Van Der Meid, Dirk van Dongen, Jan van Lohuizen, Stewart Verdery, Dick Wadhams, John Weaver, Lezlee Westine, Dave Winston, Ginny Wolfe, Fred Wszolek, and Matthew Zablud.

This article appeared in print as "Political Insiders Poll: Is the GOP’s no-tax pledge politically harmful to the party?"

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