Journal editorial writer Stephen Moore elaborated in the piece why Norquist is confident that there will no Republicans breaking away to come up with a "grand bargain" on deficit reduction.
He rattles off a list of reasons Republicans won't give in. If taxes rise on everyone next year because of a stalemate, he says, "who are you going to believe wants taxes to go up? Obama doesn't have credibility on keeping your taxes down; Republicans do."
And don't forget: "Nothing has changed on the chess board since Barack Obama agreed to extend all the Bush tax cuts two years ago. Exactly the same players. Republicans still control the House and Democrats still control the White House and the Senate." Then he delivers the clincher: "For 20 years Democrats have tried over and over to trick Republicans into breaking the pledge. It hasn't happened. This isn't my first rodeo."
But on ABC's This Week program on Sunday, South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he would would violate Norquist's anti-tax pledge for the good of the country by capping deductions — but only if Democrats in turn agree to entitlement reform.
"I agree with Grover, we shouldn't raise rates, but I think Grover is wrong when it comes to we can't cap deductions and buy down debt. What do you do with the money? I want to buy down debt and cut rates to create jobs, but I will violate the pledge, long story short, for the good of the country, only if Democrats will do entitlement reform. "
In the WSJ interview, Norquist actually said what no one else in Washington D.C. (or the rest of the country, like in Tampa) will dare admit to: that he's okay with the sequester, the automatic spending cuts for social and defense programs that Congress considered "draconian" that would begin to kick in early next year.
Lindsey Graham, who came to Tampa over the summer to decry sequestration (along with fellow GOP Senators John McCain and Kelly Ayotte), said he can't agree with Norquist on that notion.
GRAHAM: Well, what I would say to Grover Norquist is that the sequester destroys the United States military. According to our own secretary of defense, it would be shooting ourselves in the head. You'd have the smallest Army since 1940, the smallest Navy since 1915, the smallest Air Force in the history of the country, so sequestration must be replaced.
I'm willing to generate revenue. It's fair to ask my party to put revenue on the table. We're below historic averages. I will not raise tax rates to do it. I will cap deductions. If you cap deductions around the $30,000, $40,000 range, you can raise $1 trillion in revenue, and the people who lose their deductions are the upper-income Americans.
But to do this, I just don't want to promise the spending cuts. I want entitlement reforms. Republicans always put revenue on the table. Democrats always promise to cut spending. Well, we never cut spending. What I'm looking for is more revenue for entitlement reform before the end of the year
Last week Georgia GOP Senator Saxby Chambliss indicated in a television interview that he was willing to raise revenues in contravention of the Norquist pledge. Chambliss said he's not concerned about being "primaried," saying, "I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge. If we do it his way, then we’ll continue in debt, and I just have a disagreement with him about that.”
On Meet The Press, Representative Peter T. King, a New York Republican from Long Island,
told David Gregory said the pledge is out of date.
"First of all, I agree entirely with Saxby Chambliss. A pledge you sign 18 years ago, 20 years ago, is for that Congress. For instance if I were in Congress in 1941, I would have signed the uh...as quote 'declaring a state of war against Japan.' I'm not going to attack Japan today. The world has changed. And the economic situation is different....I think everything should be on the table."