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Chan Lowe: The curse of the "no new taxes" pledge


Sometimes you have to wonder if, down deep in their craven hearts, Republican members of Congress don’t regret having made that Faustian pact with Grover Norquist and his no-new-taxes pledge. Here they sit in their cushy jobs, big fish in their hometown ponds, and they uncomfortably find themselves in crisis mode, charged with the mission of saving the country for future generations with their hands tied behind their backs.

Their rational side must know that the only solution to our fiscal death-spiral involves a mix of cuts and new revenue, but they run smack up against that old survival instinct. If they choose to do the statesmanlike thing, it follows that they’ll self-destruct with their constituents.

Ironically, it’s that same instinct that put them in this fix. It isn’t as if Grover Norquist is holding the country hostage because he usurped power. It was willingly handed over to him when Congressional districts were intentionally gerrymandered to guarantee that they would remain in a particular party’s hands in perpetuity. As a result, a local party primary has, all too often, turned into the de facto general election vote.

A Republican who might summon the guts to throw the pledge back in Norquist’s face and say, “I’ve decided to fulfill my oath of office, rather than kowtow to doctrinaire radicals,” will surely be defeated in the next primary, since we all know that only rabid ideologues bother to vote in primaries (moderates, by definition, aren’t that involved in the process). The sad thing is that these extremists comprise, by far, the minority of voters in this country.

In other words, Grover Norquist’s power over the functioning of our democracy derives from members of Congress loving their jobs more than the country they serve. You can hardly blame them. Have you seen those salaries, privileges and benefits? They would lay low the stoutest of ethical principles…a bit like kryptonite.

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If only democrats were as good at crafting messages as republicans. They could have been running a talking point campaign about how signing a pledge is the same as scooping out chunks of your brain with a melon baller and refusing to actually apply your God given reasoning power on behalf of your constituents. Unfortunately, democrats are terrible at this, and tend to let the most right wing republicans define everything.

I remember the tea party. They did ok for awhile then they just kind of faded away

Who is this "Tea Party" you speak of?

Must have gone the way of the do-do bird.....

Can you imagine if the impossible happened?

1) Democrats conceded to put entitlements and government agency cuts on the table and conceded cuts (in some fashion) to government pensions and medicare and Social Security

2) Republicans conceded that the the wealthiest and maybe even the middle tier must endure tax increase back to the pre-Bush era rates (at the levels when Clinton was office)

3) Both conceded that Tax code reform and defense spending cuts are absolutely mandatory.

... and thereby came out with a plan that would result in $4 trillion in deficit reduction, making the markets and therefore business sing.

I think the Super-committee would be heralded as heroes if they manged this, even by their base constituents. (Of course, the "downside" is that might result in Obama being relected)

Chan,your cartoon totally ignores the fact that Republicans on the Super commitee recently proposed raising taxes as part of a deficit reduction deal. Sen. Toomey proposed $300 billion in new taxes as part of a tax reform package, which Dems so far have rejected.

I also read a CNN op-ed the other day that David Stockman and Andy Stern jointly agree on a go-big deficit reduction plan that includes tax increases and spending cuts. Bi-partisan agreement is possible. How about spoofing the progressives who want to lock in the higher spending and cannot find $1 of savings out of $3.6 trillion a year?

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About the author
Chan LoweCHAN LOWE has been the Sun Sentinel’s first and only editorial cartoonist for the past twenty-six years. Before that, he worked as cartoonist and writer for the Oklahoma City Times and the Shawnee (OK) News-Star.

Chan went to school in New York City, Los Angeles, and the U.K., and graduated from Williams College in 1975 with a degree in Art History. He also spent a year at Stanford University as a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow.

His work has won numerous awards, including the Green Eyeshade Award and the National Press Foundation Berryman Award. He has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His cartoons have won multiple first-place awards in all of the Florida state journalism contests, and The Lowe-Down blog, which he began in 2008, has won writing awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.
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