“Gridlock Grover” Norquist on the Ropes over Anti-tax Pledge

Ducking Blame, Tax Lobbyist Attempts to Shift Responsibility for Congressional Inaction

Washington, DC – Today, in a defensively worded opinion piece published in the Washington Post, tax lobbyist Grover Norquist claimed that those who believe his organization’s “pledge [is] the obstacle to a bipartisan compromise to reduce the deficit and debt” are mistaken. Norquist’s protestations come as criticism continues to mount over the impact of his “no tax” pledge, which has rendered more than 300 members of the House and Senate incapable of addressing our nation’s problems during these difficult economic times.

“Grover Norquist is rightly feeling the heat. It is the height of absurdity for him to claim that his ‘no tax’ pledge is furthering bipartisan efforts to fix our economic problems,” said Doug Kendall, founder and president of the Constitutional Accountability Center. “Even anti-tax conservatives such as Senator Tom Coburn and Representative Frank Wolf agree Gridlock Grover’s pledge is crippling Washington.”

Last week, Constitutional Progressives (organized by Constitutional Accountability Center) began collecting messages from Americans across the country telling Grover Norquist to “knock it off” with his pledge. To date, more than 10,000 have done just that, and the number continues to grow. This most recent call to action follows the initial September launch of Constitutional Progressives, which encouraged public officials to pledge to uphold their constitutional oaths and not those made to Norquist or any other special interest.

Kendall continued, “The real problem is that Mr. Norquist believes public servants should put his pledge over their oath to serve ‘we the people’ and our Constitution. If he really wants to help the nation find a way out of its economic problems, he should acknowledge the simple fact that our elected representatives must put their oath to support the Constitution over any special interest pledge, including his.”


Rep. Frank Wolf Disses Grover’s Pledge: This followed an extraordinary speech on the floor of the House of Representatives by Representative Frank Wolf, a well-respected Virginia Republican, who criticized Norquist’s “no-tax pledge” and questioned whether “one person’s demand for ideological purity is paralyzing Congress.” Wolf also chronicled Norquist’s strong-arm tactics in enforcing his pledge, laying out the pledge collector’s effort to seek “retribution” for anyone who breaks his pledge and documenting Norquist’s ties to “unsavory” individuals such as disgraced lobbyist and convicted felon Jack Abramoff.

Sen. Tom Coburn on Pledges and Oaths: Meanwhile, earlier this year on NBC’s Meet the Press, conservative firebrand, Senator Tom Coburn, said much of the same thing: “[W]hich pledge is more important…? The pledge to uphold your oath to the Constitution of the United States or a pledge from a special interest group…”

Sen. John Kerry Implores his Colleagues: Senator and Super-Committee Member John Kerry sent a letter to all of his Senate colleagues encouraging them to ignore special interest pledges and join him in reaffirming their constitutional oath of office.

Congressional Progressive Caucus Stands Up: Likewise, the co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Rep. Raúl Grijalva and Rep. Keith Ellison (along with eight other caucus members), asserted that their “solemn oath to support the Constitution trumps the demands of any interest group,” while Rep. Louise Slaughter said, “Instead of fulfilling their pledge to uphold the Constitution, the Republican majority has worked to fulfill campaign pledges to Grover Norquist.”

The President Gets It: President Obama challenged legislators in a speech in the Rose Garden three weeks ago, saying, “the last time I checked, the only pledge that really matters is the pledge we take to uphold the Constitution.”