Corey Stapleton, Steve Daines Should Pledge to Montanans, Not Grover Norquist

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.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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  • the primary will be interesting but i agree stapleton is floundering. stapleton signed this agreement and zinke signed (during his campaign with livingstone) ed berry’s candidate pledge which was out there like pluto.

  • Corey Stapleton has abandoned any pretense of representing anyone but the far right. His campaign rhetoric has gotten increasingly shrill and is a long way from the Stapleton of years past. Of course, continually losing probably has a lot to do with that.

  • Gosh, there’s 3 months before the primary. If one of these guys would just head to one corner of the state and start walking I bet they might be able to win some votes.

    Their current tactics leave much to be desired. I’m just not sure anyone in the republican primary can face voters at their doors.

    I think it’s pretty easy. I’ve knocked on 73 in the past 2 days and it’s only cost me time, some wet socks and flashlight batteries.

  • Candidates who make a personal written commitment to oppose higher taxes should be applauded. If you disagree, just admit it’s because you want to grow the government at the expense of taxpayers and the private sector. Additionally, the Pledge isn’t to anyone but constituents; feel free to read it.

    • I disagree, because I would like the federal government to eventually return to solvency, and that will inevitably require a raise in taxes to the same levels that we saw the last time the government was solvent, under Clinton.

    • Here in Missoula there’s lot of issues in the paper that will eventually necessitate a raise in taxes, no matter what. Many of these can be trace to failed polices or procedures, or challenges that may not pass muster.

      I also think many businesses have no problem with the taxes they pay now, they just have problems with how that money is wasted.

      I wish those complaining about taxes all the time would spend a few minutes pointing out where tax money is being wasted in the state budget and how that can be remedied.

      I’d also rather keep taxes the same, and with that sensible spending, offer up tax rebates from time to time. Getting those checks in the mail makes people happy.

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