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ROBINSON: Cracks forming in the anti-tax wall

  • (MIKE PETERS / Dayton Daily News)

Maybe the fever is breaking. Maybe the delirium is lifting. Maybe Republicans are finally asking themselves: What were we thinking when we put an absurdly unrealistic pledge to a Washington lobbyist ahead of our duty to the American people?

I said maybe. So far, the renunciations of Grover Norquist's “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” amount to a trickle, not a flood. But we're seeing the first signs in years that on the question of taxation — one of the fundamental responsibilities of government — the GOP may be starting to recover its senses.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., was the first to shake off the cobwebs, announcing last week that he would no longer consider the no-taxes promise exacted by Norquist's pressure group, Americans for Tax Reform, to be holy writ.

“I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge,” Chambliss said. “If we do it (Norquist's) way then we'll continue in debt, and I just have a disagreement with him about that. ... I'm willing to do the right thing and let the political consequences take care of themselves.”

Welcome back to consciousness, Senator. The year is 2012, your party just got whupped in an election, we're facing a “fiscal cliff,” and your party's view — that we should starve the federal government of needed revenue — will only hurt your constituents, not help them.

Also showing signs of life are Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who said Sunday that he would violate the pledge “for the good of the country,” and Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., who drew an analogy: “If I were in Congress in 1941, I would have signed a declaration of war against Japan. I'm not going to attack Japan today. The world has changed, and the economic situation is different.” On Monday, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said he is “not obligated” to the pledge.

In truth, the anti-tax pledge never made a bit of sense. The signer gives his or her oath to “oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses” and to “oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.” Translation: No new tax revenue. Ever.

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