A broken promise or a broken system?

A no-tax pledge is hamstringing Republicans’ ability to negotiate.

by David Steinberg

When politicians make a promise to the people, you hope they keep it. But their promises should never prevent them from negotiating. And when members of the GOP sign the Americans for Tax Reform pledge, which is a pledge to never raise taxes under any circumstances, it severely curtails all negotiating.

Two hundred and thirty-six members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 41 senators signed the organizationâÄôs pledge, which is now keeping them from considering tax increases as part of a deal that would raise the nationâÄôs debt ceiling.

Americans for Tax Reform and its growing message is now playing hostage keeper with the current debt negotiations. And none of the politicians who took the pledge are going to go back on their promise for fear of a backlash.

However, what those elected officials have failed to realize is that very few voters want to solve the current crisis exclusively with spending cuts. A Gallup poll showed that the average Republican voter who would like to decrease the deficit would like about a 3 to 1 ratio of spending cuts to tax increases. This is a lower ratio than even some of President Barack ObamaâÄôs proposals, meaning the RepublicanâÄôs demands for 100 percent tax increases are outside what even their own voters want.

This absolutist stance that Republicans, led by Americans for Tax Reform Chief Grover Norquist, are embracing the absolute wrong way to go about negotiating. It rejects bipartisanship and halts progress.

Republicans always cite Ronald ReaganâÄôs genius and his tax cuts. However, he also raised taxes a greater amount than any peacetime president in the modern era to counterbalance the poor economy of the early 1980s.

So before Republicans of the 21st century try to channel their inner Reagan, they should remember that he did not choose their absolutist theory, but rather did what was best for the country.