“As the work of the debt-reduction Super-Committee approaches its climax (or anti-climax) next week, the oversized role of tax lobbyist Grover Norquist has dominated the conversation, including this page one story in today’s Washington Post, which confirms that a growing, bipartisan collection of Members of Congress is backing away from the Norquist ‘no-tax’ pledge .
“There are two themes among the statements by Senators and Representatives who are running from Grover. The first is that the Norquist pledge — often signed by candidates, now Members, many years ago in the course of a heated political campaign — is not currently binding. As Representative Rob Andrews (D-NJ) colorfully put it , ‘I never considered it to be like my marriage vows. I’m married to Camille Andrews, not Grover Norquist.’ Smart decision.
“The second, even more powerful, refrain, is that the oath to the Constitution required of every public official trumps any special interest pledge. Representative Mike Simpson (R-ID) led an effort a couple of weeks back that produced this remarkable letter signed by 100 Members of Congress, including 37 Republicans who had previously signed the Norquist pledge, calling for all options, including increased revenue, to be on the table in the Super-Committee negotiations. In explaining his rejection of the Norquist pledge, Simpson said it plainly: ‘The only pledge I take anymore is to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. That’s the pledge every member takes when he gets sworn in and that’s the pledge you oughtta be concerned about.’ ”