Pledge Daylight? GOP Rep. Says Small Tax Increase Now May Prevent Large Hike Later


Political observers are growing slightly more optimistic about the prospects of a super-committee breakthrough – fueled by an openness by leading Republicans to at least entertain the prospect of new revenues as part of a broad deficit deal.

Such a deal could prove problematic to Republicans, the vast majority of whom have signed the Americans for Tax Reform pledge vowing not to raise taxes.

But on ABC’s “Top Line” today, a leading Republican lawmaker who has signed the pledge said he and other signers need to consider any deal not just in terms of current taxes, but also for what it could mean for taxes down the road.

“Each member of Congress has to look at this in terms of their relationship with their constituents, and any plan that’s put on the table has to be given careful consideration, not just in terms of what it does right now but what it will do in the long term,” said Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.

“We are facing major increases in taxes in January of 2013 [with the expiration of a series of tax cuts], just a little over a year from now, and this is an opportunity to alter that path in a significant way. So you can look at it as a tax increase, but you can also view it as an agreement that avoids major tax increases in the future and instead defines a different pathway that involves lower taxes than you’d have in 2013.”

Asked whether that means he could support something that violates Grover Norquist’s famous pledge, Goodlatte added: “Well, I think all members of Congress ought to give all of these a careful look, and then they have to decide for themselves — does that really mean tax increases or does it mean a different pathway that avoids tax increases in the future?”

There is no deal in place from the super-committee, at least not yet. In any event, Goodlatte’s push this week is for a Balanced Budget Amendment – the passage of which, while it’s a longshot in the House and the Senate – would lessen the impact of budget cuts that might otherwise be enacted.

Goodlatte’s amendment will come up for a vote in the House this week – the first time since a similar measure passed the House in 1995 that it’s even come up for a final vote.

“This is an opportunity for real bipartisanship and to really connect directly with your constituents, and all the other forces that are in play here — including the wishes of members whipping and their leadership — can be ignored, because constituents understand this issue better than any other,” he said. “They have to live with it themselves. Their state legislatures have a balanced-budget requirement, and that’s why we think a lot of Democrats will join us on this vote.”

And Goodlatte talked up the prospect of his home-state governor, Gov. Bob McDonnell, joining a national ticket next year as a vice-presidential candidate.

“Bob McDonnell would be a great participant in a Republican ticket going into the elections in 2012,” Goodlatte said. “I also think that we have a great opportunity to win back Virginia. Last time was the first time in 40 years that Virginia did not go for the Republican candidate. I think the views of the electorate in Virginia about the president and his performance are very different than the expectations they had when he carried the state. And so with other candidates on the ballot we are likely to carry Virginia as well, but Bob McDonnell would definitely seal the deal.”

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