Let's start with the basics: The pledge is not Grover Norquist's pledge. It is a document that a candidate signs, if they want to, promising the people who are voting for them that they will not raise taxes.
That's a pretty simple idea.
It is also a good idea. If you have a choice between candidate A and candidate B, you the voter should know where each of those candidates stands.
The issue itself is not the pledge. There are a couple of issues. First is an honesty issue. If you sign a pledge saying that you will not raise taxes, then suddenly change your mind when it becomes expedient or when the pressure is turned on in Washington, it is not a reflection on the pledge. It is a reflection on the candidate, who is now showing America the worst qualities of the regrettably nonendangered species called "politician." The attention on the pledge is a clever distraction by many of those worthless Washington politicians from the real issue.
The problem Washington has is not a revenue problem. It is a spending problem. If President Barack Obama got his way with taxes, that would only fund the government for eight additional days. In fiscal year 2007, the last year the Republicans controlled both the Congress and the White House, the deficit for the entire year was only $163 billion. After Obama took office, our deficits skyrocketed to over a trillion dollars a year.
Every year politicians of all stripes parade out in front of the cameras to denounce fraud and waste in government spending. Almost two years ago, the General Accountability Office identified hundreds of billions of dollars in waste, fraud, and duplicated spending. Sen. Tom Coburn held a press conference announcing that report would make all of the congressmen and senators look like "jackasses."
Almost two years later, that waste and fraud is still in the budget. Nothing is done to cut it.
The problem Washington faces is not a problem of taxation. Washington's desire for new tax dollars is insatiable. The Taxpayer Protection Pledge that Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform have offered for more than 20 years is not the problem.
The dishonesty of politicians is the real issue.
About Judson Phillips Founder of Tea Party Nation
Pete Sepp Executive Vice President of the National Taxpayers Union
Richard Rahn Senior Fellow of the Cato Institute
Penny Lee Democratic Strategist