Two decades of inflexible demagoguery are over. Politicians who signed a facile pledge to oppose new taxes are abandoning Grover Norquist. Finally.
Is Congress suddenly overrun with representatives and senators who are going to raise taxes with reckless abandon? Of course not, but the era of the rote preclusion of new revenue has passed.
The national credit card was run up by two wars and generous tax cuts. Spending sprees have consequences. The country is not only facing fiscal exigencies but also the mindlessness of the pledges is apparent.
Voters want politicians on both sides of the aisle to talk, negotiate, cajole — whatever it takes to reach agreement. Values, viewpoints, priorities and philosophies have a credible role in all the discussions, but a simple-minded “no” has lost its piquant charm.
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The current list of Norquist pledge signers for the 112th Congress has four names from Washington state: Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas; Doc Hastings, R-Pasco; Cathy McMorris Rogers, R-Spokane, and Dave Reichert, R-Auburn.
Congress must consider all the elements of the dilemma: spending, debt and revenue. Each has a role, and each can be modified in a variety of ways. Revenue cannot be set aside because of Norquist’s signature gimmick.
The election made that clear. Republicans thought they would knock off President Obama, so no need to change rhetoric dating to the Reagan years. Times do indeed change.
The Democrats ran out of ideas and opened the door for Ronald Reagan and GOP majorities in Congress. By the 2012 election, the tea-party prattle of 2010 sounded wacky in light of urgent national issues.
Norquist’s pledge did not offer any relief for Americans woozy from five years on the economic roller coaster.
The election changed the rhetoric. Now the behavior has to change.
Americans want to see both parties working and engaged. They expect results and will vote accordingly.