POLITICS

Grover Norquist: Debt Ceiling Gives Republicans 'Leverage'

11/27/2012 08:34 pm ET

Facing backlash from Republicans as the fiscal cliff nears, anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist defended his position Tuesday, claiming that the constant pressure of hitting the debt ceiling gives the GOP "leverage" to press President Obama on tax rates and spending cuts.

"Taxpayers are best protected if the 'negotiations are on CSPAN so they cannot be misrepresented by 'spokesmen,'" Norquist wrote in a column for The Hill. "The debt ceiling that Obama's plans bump into every month or so for the next four years provides plenty of 'leverage' for the GOP to trade for spending cuts -- as done in 2011 -- or continuing the lower rates."

Norquist continued: "The debt ceiling and continuing resolutions to fund the government are more secure tools than a hope that Obama has become Bill Clinton."

As the January 1 deadline for a potential fiscal meltdown looms large over lawmakers, several Republican leaders have publicly rebuked Norquist and his anti-tax pledge, signaling willingness to break the agreement if necessary to avoid going over the cliff.

"I care too much about my country -- I care a lot more about it than I do about Grover Norquist," Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) said last week when asked about his commitments to Norquist. "Norquist has no plan to pay this debt down. His plan says you continue to add to the debt, and I just have a fundamental disagreement about that and I'm willing to do the right thing and let the political consequences take care of themselves."

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Sunday that while he opposes raising income tax rates, he would be willing to "violate" the pledge "for the good of the country."

Norquist, in his column, referenced the commitment Republicans like Graham and Chambliss had made to not raising taxes.

"More than 90 percent of Republicans in the House and Senate have run for office promising voters in writing that they will oppose any and all efforts to increase taxes," Norquist wrote. "Almost every Republican made that commitment verbally."

On Monday, Norquist told CNN that his anti-tax group Americans for Tax Reform would "certainly highlight who has kept their commitment and who hasn't" in upcoming election cycles.

"It's not for a two-year period," he said. "It's explained to everyone when they sign, it's in writing with them when they sign, that it's a commitment for while you are in the House or while you are in the Senate."

The conservative lobbyist has previously made the case for using the ceiling to force Obama's hand on compromising with Republicans.

"The debt limit is an additional tool to explain to Obama that he is not the king," Norquist said earlier this month. "He has to go to Congress for resources."

GOP Lawmakers Run Away From Grover

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