Is the 1% Pledge Falling Apart?

Mr. 1 Percent’s Iron Grip Fades

Mr. 1 Percent, Grover Norquist, is best known for convincing nearly every single Republican in the House and Senate (and a handful of Democrats) to sign his pledge swearing that they will never, ever vote for a tax increase, nor to close any tax loopholes.

What’s the practical impact of the pledge? Congressional gridlock and lockstep Republican opposition to asking the 1 Percent and corporations to pay their fair share. The 1 Percent Pledge locks its signers into opposing all of the below:

  • making the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share
  • making huge corporations pay their fair share (or even any taxes at all in some cases)
  • ending unfair tax loopholes that allow millionaires and billionaires to pay a lower tax rate than middle class Americans
  • ending unfair handouts to hedge fund and private equity managers (like Mitt Romney)
  • ending tens of billions of dollars in handouts to Big Oil
  • ending unfair tax loopholes that pay companies to ship jobs overseas
  • ending unfair tax loopholes for vacation homes and yachts
  • ending unfair and ridiculous tax loopholes for things like wealthy horse breeders or corporate jets

Norquist is so devoted to protecting the 1 Percent that even recently he suggested that President Obama should be impeached if he doesn’t extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

The 1 Percent Pledge has exercised an iron grip on its signers, but there appears to be something of a revolt brewing that may loosen the hold that Mr. 1 Percent has over Republicans in the Congress.

Here’s the rundown of members of Congress seeking to break Norquist’s hold on them:

“I’m not saying I’m even committed now to a tax increase, but I think anybody who doesn’t indicate their willingness to look at revenues — expiration of tax loopholes, tax credits, increase in contribution to Social Security, which is a tax, and otherwise — would be disingenuous and irresponsible.“ –Rep. Tim Johnson (R-IL)

[Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-MN)] said signing it was a mistake. ‘I have learned, never sign a damn pledge.’”

“Grover Norquist has no credibility, so I don’t respond to him. He doesn’t deserve being responded to.” Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)

Have we really reached the 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?” –Rep. Frank Wolff (R-VA)

I informed the organization I don’t consider (the earlier pledge) binding. I don’t care to be associated with it. It’s too constraining.” –Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE)

“Grover, you’re stupid, forget it, we’re going to vote the right way.” Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK)

[Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID] noted Thursday that he signed the pledge just once, when he first ran for Congress in 1998. Since then, he’s declined…. ‘The only pledge I take anymore is to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. That’s the pledge every member takes when he gets sworn in and that’s the pledge you ougtta be concerned about.’”

“Grover Norquist is not in my district. I represent the state of Wyoming and its people.” –Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY)

“I’m no longer signing any pledges to anybody. I’m not going to sign it next year.” –Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI)

“My driver’s license expires, the milk in my refrigerator expires, the only thing that doesn’t expire is Grover Norquist’s pledge – and that’s nuts.” –Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-OH)

“I’m married to Camille Andrews, not Grover Norquist. I promised her to be faithful until death do us part, and I mean it. I did not promise him to oppose tax increases until death do us part.” –Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ)

“We shouldn’t be bound by something that could be interpreted different ways if what we’re trying to accomplish is broad-based tax reform.” –Sen. John Thune (R-SD)

Evening Brief: Important Stories That You May Have Missed

Carbon pollution from fossil fuels is poisoning the weather, helping drive the conditions that created the killer tornado outbreak last week across the heart of the United States.

A whistle-blower lawsuit in Colorado alleges that Bank of America was intentionally steering customers away from the federal program designed to save millions of homeowners from foreclosure.

So many advertisers have left Rush Limbaugh that his show is now being broadcast with dead airtime where ads used to play.

Study: sex education leads to healthier sexual behavior.

A shocking scoop about Obama’s past? Not so much, says David Folkenflik.

The Republican war on women reaches Texas on International Women’s Day.

Diana Wueger expands on her initial thoughts about why women are underrepresented in public and private sector foreign policy and national security jobs.

If an anti-picketing law proposed in Georgia was around in pre-revolutionary days, American founding fathers like Sam Adams could have been thrown in the clink by the Brits.

Sarah Margon issues a “partial defense” of a campaign to build awareness of one of the planets least-savory guerilla armies.

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.


Advocacy Team