Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, is under fire. More than half of U.S. representatives—238—have signed his ATR pledge to not raise taxes under any circumstances. (That includes six of North Carolina's 13 representatives, all Republicans.) So when the super-committee issues its recommendations next month, either there will be no tax increases or implementation will require pledge violations from 21 representatives.
The notion that higher taxes could be off the table, however, is unfathomable to many. For example, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-W.Va.), one of six House Republicans that have not signed the pledge, has accused Norquist of “paralyzing congress” with ideological purity and working with “unsavory characters.” Evidently, hyperbolic metaphors, exaggerations, and personal attacks remain in vogue, perhaps because the relevant evidence leads us to an altogether different conclusion. (Norquist explains the ATR pledge to Stephen Colbert below.)
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Of those who have attempted to address the ATR pledge directly, they express two leading concerns. (1) We cannot maintain the generosity of the federal spending and balance the budget (not that they’ve passed one) without higher revenues. (2) A hard line against any tax increases impedes the closing of many loopholes for special interest groups.