A Pledge Against America


The metaphorical fiscal cliff continues to grow on the horizon, and the budget discussion continues to sound the same as it has for the last several years. Democrats and the White House are demanding a tax increase for America’s wealthiest, and the Republican opposition remains steadfast in their refusal of that. Even though both parties have agreed that balancing the budget is in order, the right has shown little compromise on the revenue side of the budget. With President Obama threatening a veto on any proposal that does not include a higher tax rate for the rich, Washington has effectively landed at an impasse.

This impasse should look awfully familiar, too. It’s the same one that stunted legislation in 2011 during the debt ceiling crisis. That affair is ultimately what led to the reduction in the United States credit rating, and deservedly so. A government which refuses to cooperate with itself can hardly be trusted as financially responsible, particularly when a looming crisis–such as the current one–still doesn’t provide motivation for compromise and action.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) went on record as saying, “We were not re-elected to raise taxes or increase marginal rates.” This is a curious discernment, considering most major polls show that around two-thirds of Americans are in favor of a combination of tax increases and spending cuts to reduce the deficit. The results of the previous election seems to reflect that this tax increase is exactly what Americans have decidedly voted for.

The commitment to rejecting all tax hikes is the key principle a now infamous pledge conceived by conservative lobbyist Grover Norquist. Yet, even though the vast majority of congressional Republicans signed the pledge upon entering office, several prominent figures on the right have begun to abandon it in lieu of working toward true compromise. If this is foreshadowing of a movement to come, then extremists like Cantor may need to quickly rethink their position on why they were elected. There is nothing patriotic about showing allegiance to a pledge fashioned by one man over the wishes of the American people.

Congressional disagreement isn’t a newly developed roadblock in Washington. But the call for compromise is no longer an idle request: it’s a demand coming from an American populace that has witnessed the ill effects of partisan hard-headedness as recently as a year ago. If Cantor and other supporters of Norquist’s no-tax pledge are refusing to listen to the majority of American voices, then they are willingly and treasonously steering the nation toward another catastrophe. The only rationale for this sort of action would be to satisfy wealthy lobbyists such as Norquist himself. It is time for politicians to put aside pledges, egos, and partisan hard lines, and start paying attention to all their constituents, and not just a wealthy few.


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