Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, warned Wednesday that Republicans should keep their distance from any tax increases during negotiations over the impending, so-called fiscal cliff. Republicans shouldn't "have their fingerprints on the murder weapon" of a tax hike, Norquist told Politico's Mike Allen.
Any compromise on taxes could blur the lines between the parties and hurt the GOP in coming elections, he said, urging Republicans to extend all the Bush tax cuts instead and to focus on cutting spending.
Norquist has become a lightning rod for criticism over his unyielding approach toward tax increases. Democrats are targeting him with a DCCC petition to "ditch Grover."
Some Republicans have also wavered, including Republican Sens. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.), who've expressed openness to breaking with Norquist's pledge not to raise any taxes. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) urged fellow lawmakers on Tuesday to go along with President Barack Obama's tax plan for the time being, although he said he didn't see it as a rejection of Norquist's tax pledge.
Norquist, who earlier threatened to unseat Republicans who break their pledge, said some people were "having impure thoughts," but that he wasn't worried about defections from the party line.
"I'm not planning on losing the tax debate we're having right now. But the tax issue will be more powerful in 2014 and '16 than today," he said at a breakfast hosted by Politico, predicting that even a loss could favor the GOP in the future if they remained steadfast against tax increases. "If the Republicans lose in such a way that they have their fingerprints on the murder weapon, then you have a problem."
Polls show that most Americans would like to see the two parties compromise equally on fiscal cliff discussions, although the poll indicated that Americans are more likely to blame Republicans if an agreement isn't reached. Sixty percent support raising taxes on annual incomes above $250,000.