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Freshman Republican says he's done with pledges -- even Norquist's

November 04, 2011|By Lisa Mascaro
  • Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wisc.) speaks at a campaign event in July 2010.
Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wisc.) speaks at a campaign event in July 2010.

At least one freshman Republican in the House won't be signing Grover Norquist's anti-tax pledge next year.

Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wisc.) said that from here on out, he won't sign the Norquist tax pledge – or any other pledge – as he wrestles with the complexities of holding office.

Ribble is among the gang of 100 lawmakers who have urged the congressional "super committee" to put all options on the table for revenues and spending cuts in seeking a grand bargain to reduce the nation's deficits.

The freshman, who ran a roofing company before being elected to Congress, is all for not raising taxes, as Norquist promotes. He'd even like to see some taxes cut. But when it comes to, say, closing the tax loophole for ethanol producers, and using that new revenue to bring down the debt, he parts company with the anti-tax stalwart.

The only pledge he's pledging to make in the future is to his constituents in Wisconsin.

"I want to be intellectually honest with the folks back home," Ribble said Friday. "I'm no longer signing any pledges to anybody. I'm not going to sign it next year."

Norquist's influence over the GOP came to a boiling point this week as it appeared the super committee has deadlocked in finding bipartisan consensus on cutting $1.5 trillion from the nation's deficits over the next decade. The committee has until Thanksgiving to forge a proposal as Republicans refuse new taxes and Democrats insist new revenues must be on the table if they are to carve deeply into Medicare and other entitlements.

Norquist took to the cable shows Friday afternoon to explain his position, which others have praised as a crucial component in defining the modern Republican Party. Earlier this week House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) downplayed Norquist's hold over the party, referring to him as some "random" person.

"Democrats want higher taxes, Republicans want lower taxes," Norquist told Fox News. "There's not a compromise to be had."

But undoing pledges may be easier said than done.

Veteran lawmakers say the pledge they signed with Norquist's organization stays with them, regardless of whether they would prefer to re-up or stand down.

"It's like a gym membership," said Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio), who signed back in 1994. "That's nutty."

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