Honest Abe

Honest Abe (Photo credit: jeff_golden)

In a public display of candor that illustrates their moral incapacity, some well-known Republicans are now breaking their promise made to taxpayers when they signed Grover Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

First was Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss. According to Wikipedia, Chambliss is a “conservative,” having been blessed by the Washington Post as one of the “gang of six” trying to craft some kind of way around the fiscal cliff impasse. When in doubt, I check the man’s Freedom Index rating (FI) to see how closely their actual voting record hews to the limits of the Constitution. With Chambliss, it appears to be: not very often, with a paltry rating of just 69. Translation, one-third of his votes are unconstitutional.

Next on the list of pledge-breakers is Lindsey Graham, senior Senator from South Carolina. His FI rating is scarcely better than Chambliss’, at 73. Then comes John McCain, senior Senator from Arizona, the ultimate establishment conservative, with a FI rating of 78. Finally, House member Peter King, from the 3rd Congressional District of New York, with a FI rating of a dismal 62. That’s awfully close to a “coin-toss” member when voting on bills that aren’t Constitutional.

Their public justifications for breaking their promises to their constituents make interesting reading:

But on Sunday, there were signals of a sudden shift:

  • “I agree entirely with Saxby Chambliss,” King said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “A pledge you signed 20 years ago, 18 years ago, is for that Congress. … The world has changed, and the economic situation is different.”
  • “I will violate the pledge, long story short, for the good of the country, only if Democrats will do entitlement reform,” Graham said on ABC’s “This Week.”
  • McCain, meanwhile, said he wants to focus on closing so-called tax “loopholes” to raise revenue but stressed he wants no increases to the marginal tax rates. Many observers, however, note that closing loopholes will still represent an effective tax increase. “We can close a lot of loopholes,” McCain said on “Fox News Sunday,” identifying deductions on charitable donations and on mortgage interest.”

We can dissect each of these, but it isn’t necessary. You can see for yourself how the wafflers waffle for yourself. The pledge is only a pledge if it’s convenient, otherwise it’s just a suggestion.

Norquist was livid:

Sen. Chambliss promised the people of Georgia he would go to and reform government rather than raise taxes to pay for bigger government. He made that commitment in writing to the people of Georgia.

If he plans to vote for higher taxes to pay for Obama-sized government he should address the people of Georgia and let them know that he plans to break his promise to them.

And Chambliss did:  “I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge.”

Yup. A pledge is something to be kept only if you’re running for reelection. Otherwise, forget it.

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