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Taxpayer Protection Pledge is unproductive in addressing fiscal cliff

Posted on December 3, 2012 | by WSN Editorial Board

Read Grover Norquist’s lips: No new taxes. Norquist, the founder of Americans for Tax Reform, started his Taxpayer Protection Pledge in 1986, which asks lawmakers to sign an agreement with their constituents to fight any rise in marginal tax rates. Unfortunately for him, a handful of influential Republicans who signed his anti-tax pledge have begun to retract their support in light of the upcoming fiscal cliff debacle and a willingness to come to a compromise.

The pledge initiated by Norquist does not seem to have any real enforceability. Far from being a legally binding document, it does not impose any accountability on the signatories. Those who sign it are not obliged to obey, nor would they be prosecuted or face any serious consequences if they break the pledge. In this sense, the tax pledge becomes feckless. Such a void pledge, in principle, should not have any real influence on the actions of politicians.

Nonetheless, many Republicans have signed and staunchly stood behind it. While such actions were politically beneficial in times of financial stability, faced with a real-world dilemma such as the fiscal cliff, its practical application seems lost.

The tax pledge undermines the very framework democracy was built upon — the conversation and debate of dynamic ideas in order to address the nation’s problems in the best way. Our country operates on a two-party system, and when one party engages in absolutism, they impede the progress of the system as a whole. So even worse than the pledge melting into a puddle of meaninglessness, it becomes a vehicle for animosity.

Saxby Chambliss, longtime Republican senator from Georgia, summed up a commonly popular sentiment among Americans this week, saying, “I care a lot more about my country — I care a lot more about it than I do about Grover Norquist.”

Signing the Norquist pledge of not raising taxes is an extreme and unproductive way of expressing the conservative ideology. Pledging allegiance to an honest conversation about the role of taxes and spending cuts is the proper way of addressing the fiscal cliff. Not pledging allegiance to Grover Norquist.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Dec. 3 print edition. Email the WSN Editorial Board at 


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Felipe De La Hoz

Multimedia Editor | Felipe De La Hoz is a Colombian national studying journalism at the College of Arts and Sciences. Having been born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, Felipe is a trilingual travel aficionado and enjoys working in varied and difficult environments. Apart from his photography, Felipe enjoys investigative reporting and interviews, interviewing the likes of Colombian ex-M-19 guerrilla fighters and controversial politician Jimmy McMillan. He has covered everything from governmental conferences to full-blown riots, as well as portraiture shoots and dining photography. Having worked under Brazilian photojournalists for Reuters and AFP, Felipe hopes to one day work on demanding journalistic projects and contribute to the global news cycle.

Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.


Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

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Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

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