Increasingly irrelevant Republican Congressional candidate Corey Stapleton, in a desperate bid to get some free press for his flagging campaign, yesterday announced that his true priorities in Congress would be allegiance to Washington power brokers rather than the people back home. Stapleton announced that he had signed the American for Tax Reform’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a brainchild of Grover Norquist, who famously said that his “goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”
For those of you unfamiliar with the Pledge, which has dominated right wing politics for a couple of decades in this country, those who sign promise to:
ONE, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses; and
TWO, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.
By signing it, Stapleton is positioning himself in opposition to Montana voters and pledging his allegiance to Norquist and his radical organization, who have used the pledge to attack Republican members of Congress who feel the occasional impulse to be responsible. Former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson described the effects of the pledge as “no taxes, under any situation, even if your country goes to hell.”
In effect, it mandates irresponsible governance and increases the likelihood of government shutdown because it makes those who sign it unable to negotiate on tax increase as part of deficit reduction or in case of emergency. Like government shutdowns that cost Montanan communities millions of dollars? The Taxpayer Pledge is for you.
Very conservative Senator Tom Coburn explains that signing the pledge means members of Congress are putting the values of a narrow special interest group ahead of their oath to the Constitution:
The most important pledge, he says, “is the pledge to uphold your oath to the Constitution of the United States,” not “a pledge from a special interest group, who claims to speak for all of American conservatives when in fact they really don’t.”
The Americans for Tax Reform also offer a local link for those who remember the heady days of Conrad Burns in the U.S. Senate. The organization served as a conduit for Jack Abramoff to funnel money from clients to Astroturf political organizations.
Stapleton signed the same pledge in his failed 2012 gubernatorial bid, as has Congressman (and Senate candidate) Steve Daines. Perhaps someone can ask either man why he believes appeasing Grover Norquist is more important that representing their (potential) constituents.