n a further indication that Republican attitudes are shifting on how to reduce the deficit, Sen. Bob Corker said Monday he no longer feels bound by the no-increase pledge he signed at the behest of an anti-tax activist.
From The Tennessean: “I’m not obligated on the pledge,” Corker said during an appearance on the CBS show “This Morning.”
“I made Tennesseans aware — I was just elected — that the only thing I’m honoring is the oath that I take when I serve when I’m sworn in this January.”
However, Corker’s name, along with those of the eight other Republican members of Tennessee’s congressional delegation, remains on the anti-tax pledge that conservative lobbyist Grover Norquist’s group, Americans for Tax Reform, has been asking politicians to sign for the better part of three decades.
The pledge signals their promise to “oppose and vote against tax increases.”
Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander’s office Monday referred anew to a comment he made last year about not being bound by the Norquist pledge.
“My only pledge is to the United States flag and to the United States Constitution, and I’ve forsworn all others,” Alexander said in an interview with Roll Call, a Capitol Hill publication.
See also the Commercial Appeal story, led on Corker’s 242-page draft plan to forestall automatic tax increases and spending cuts by capping federal deductions at $50,000 for high-income Americans.
Corker did an op-ed piece in the Washington Post on the proposal.
And the AP has a national roundup on Republicans retreating from Norquist’s anti-tax pledge.
News release from U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper’s office:
NASHVILLE – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) has become the first elected official this election cycle to sign a pledge promising not to lobby once he leaves Congress.
“The power of money is overwhelming in Washington. I’ve said for years that Congress has become a farm league for K Street. Serving the public used to be considered the highest calling; now, many see it as a stepping stone to lucrative lobbying careers,” said Rep. Cooper. “I’m proud to be the first elected official this cycle to pledge not to lobby after I leave Congress, and I hope others will join me.”
The pledge is sponsored by Rootstrikers, a national network of activists fighting the corrupting influence of money in politics, founded by Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig.
“A committed reformer of Congress, we could imagine no better member to be the first to take the pledge” than Rep. Cooper, said Lessig in a Huffington Post op-ed.
Pledge signers promise that if they are elected, they will not profit from lobbying for 10 years after serving in Congress. Visit www.rootstrikers.org/the_no_lobbying_pledge for more information.
Further, from The Tennessean: Lessig’s advocacy group, Rootstrikers, says members of Congress who are paid $174,000 a year get an average raise of 1,452 percent if they become a Washington lobbyist.
The Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research organization, lists more than 300 former members of Congress registered as lobbyists. The issue is often referred to as the “Revolving Door.”
Scottie Mayfield promised Thursday to serve no more than 10 years if elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, making a pledge his top opponents recently refused or evaded, according to the Chattanooga TFP. Mayfield campaign spokesman Joe Hendrix said his boss decided to address term limits after reflecting on prior conversations with members of Congress.
“They told him they’d like to support certain legislation or initiatives, but choose not to vote for [them] because it would hurt their re-election,” Hendrix said. “Having term limits … creates the opportunity to vote for what the member believes is right.”
…Fleischmann is seeking his second term. In a May 21 debate, he avoided a direct question about a term-limits pledge, saying that elections every two years already make House members accountable to voters.
Weston Wamp, another Republican challenging Fleischmann, said at the debate that he would not make a term-limits pledge.
“I will serve in Congress as long as I am passionate about waking up every morning and doing the people’s work,” he said.
Two Republican candidates for the 3rd Congressional District, Scottie Mayfield and Weston Wamp, have declined to sign a pledge to never raise taxes, reports the Chattanooga Times-Free Press. Incumbent U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann has signed the pledge, along with all other Republican members of the Tennessee congressional delegation — indeed, almost all Republicans in Congress nationwide.
“I’ve been asked if I would sign the pledge to not increase taxes — my plan is to not sign any pledges,” Mayfield recently told a local Republican group, according to video obtained by the Chattanooga Times Free Press. “I want to be in a position to vote the way you want me to vote, and I think pledges get in [the] way.”
Created by conservative lobbyist Grover Norquist, the anti-tax pledge bears no binding legal authority, but its popularity soared as the tea party movement picked up steam in the 2010 election cycle.
Signers are implored to “oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rate for individuals and businesses.” It also asks signers to oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched “dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.”
…Like Mayfield, Wamp has said he won’t sign the pledge. His first policy offensive against Fleischmann came in February when the congressman voted to extend a popular payroll tax cut for 10 months. Wamp said the vote would result in a $90 billion increase in the deficit.
“Common sense says that’s it’s not fiscally responsible to increase the national debt, and the people of the 3rd District know that,” said Wamp, 25, whose platform focuses on advocating for what he calls “the debt-paying generation.”
At the debate, Fleischmann said he voted for the tax cut to save “the people’s money,” but he omitted his usual demands for a slimmer deficit — a priority that, by its very nature, butts heads with calls for ever-lower taxes.