Yes: GOP showing small shifts on taxes (You will recall the GOP's presidential candidates — all but one of whom signed the pledge — uniformly indicated in a debate that they would reject a deficit reduction deal that paired $1 in revenue increases for every $10 in spending cuts. Only John Huntsman has since said he regrets having so indicated.)
From The Washington Post:
In GOP activist circles it is known simply as “the pledge,” and over the past generation it has become the essential conservative credential for Republicans seeking elective office. Of the 242 Republicans in the House today, all but six have signed the pledge.
But now, an increasing number of GOP candidates for Congress are declining to sign the promise to oppose any tax increase, a small sign that could signal a big shift in Republican politics on taxes.
The pledge pushed by Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, compels candidates to “resist any effort” to raise tax rates for individuals and businesses. Signers also pledge to oppose the elimination of tax credits and deductions unless they are matched dollar-for-dollar with tax cuts.
Republican candidates declining to sign generally indicate that they nevertheless oppose tax hikes. But some chafe against the constraint on eliminating tax loopholes, believing those restrictions limit Republicans’ ability to negotiate seriously with Democrats on a deal to tackle the nation’s mounting debt.
In Pennsylvania, Republican state Rep. Scott Perry said he was disappointed to see his party’s presidential candidates — all but one of whom signed the pledge — uniformly indicate in a debate last year that they would reject a deficit reduction deal that paired $1 in revenue increases for every $10 in spending cuts.
“I just think it’s imprudent to hem yourself in where you can’t make a good agreement that overall supports the things you want to do,” said Perry, who said he generally opposes tax increases but recently won a Republican primary in a conservative district over candidates who had signed the pledge. “I just don’t see what the point of signing would be for me. . . . I’ve got a record, and everyone who wants to know where I’ve been and where I’m at can look to that.”
The refusals among some new candidates come as a handful of incumbent Republicans who signed the pledge when they first ran for office also are publicly rejecting it.
An erosion of support among candidates would be especially significant because Norquist has long aimed to collect signatures from Republicans before they take office. He encourages candidates to use their pledges to help to define their tax stance for voters.
Once the pledge is signed, Norquist considers it binding for the remainder of the candidate’s career in public service if he or she wins office.
But a new test looms: a colossal fight over spending and taxes at the end of the year, when the Bush-era tax cuts expire at the same time a series of deep cuts to defense and domestic programs is set to take effect.
Democrats have said they will not agree to renew some of the tax breaks or avert the defense cuts, as Republicans want, unless Republicans agree to impose higher taxes on the wealthy. Any wiggle room for Republicans on taxes could dramatically reshape that debate.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), a fiscal conservative who has tangled with Norquist, said he believes candidates are starting to understand that the ATR pledge’s power has been exaggerated by Norquist and the media and that Norquist is wrong when he asserts that it is nearly impossible to win a Republican primary without signing the pledge.
“That’s him patting himself on the back,” Coburn said. “And I think it’s bull crap.”