In response to my column the other day about how and why the left hates the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Steve Sebelius wrote the following in today’s paper:
“That brings us to the Americans for Tax Reform pledge overseen most vigorously in Nevada by my friend Chuck Muth. He said in a recent Internet message that liberals hate the pledge because it’s effective. All Republicans who signed the no-tax pledge ended up voting against taxes, Muth reports.
“Of course they did. And it’s a fair bet none of them even considered any other course. That doesn’t make them courageous, smart or good legislators. It just makes them inured to reasonable counter-arguments. And in the end, it made them wholly irrelevant, because who needs to negotiate with those who cannot compromise, especially when they comprise a minority of a minority?”
Gotta respectfully disagree.
The Pledge signers absolutely WERE courageous. In this day and age of politicians never taking a firm principled position on any issue, to take such a stand – incurring the wrath of the left and the liberal media in the process – takes courage.
And in the last election cycle, monied special interests absolutely threatened candidates who signed the Pledge; warning that Pledge signers wouldn’t get campaign contributions. And I can assure you a number of self-proclaimed conservative GOP legislative candidates who didn’t sign the Pledge didn’t sign for exactly that reason.
In other words, they compromised their principles in the face of big-money donors BEFORE they even got into office.
So is it really any surprise that they caved and folded at the end of this session? I mean, if you can’t stand up to the special interests before you get elected, how are you ever going to stand up to them after?
In that regard, Pledge signers tell us an awful lot about their true commitment to doing the right thing, even when threatened politically. Any yahoo can *say* on the campaign trail they oppose tax hikes; but it takes true courage to back those words up by putting your John Hancock on a piece of paper.
SIDEBAR: Which reminds me, wasn’t the Declaration of Independence a written “pledge”? Why, yes it was:
“…(W)e mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”
Those right-wing ideologue Founding Fathers. Why couldn’t they just learn to “compromise” and go along to get along? What losers!
Secondly, Steve maintains that the Pledge signers were rendered “wholly irrelevant” at the end of the session. Well, not exactly.
The power of the Pledge isn’t so much in an individual signing the Pledge, but in electing a sufficient number to thwart any and all efforts to increase taxes. Even though six of the ten Republicans in the Senate actually signed the Pledge, when all ten united as a bloc to oppose the extension of the tax hikes, they were extremely relevant.
For most of the session, tax hikes were dead, dead, dead…thanks to unified opposition. And if just two of the four Senate sell-outs had kept their word and opposed extending the sunsets, there’d have been no extension of the sunsets. Period.
Look, legislating is a counting game. If there are eight Pledge signers in the Senate, the tax hiking side can’t get the two-thirds supermajority it needs to raise taxes and use the money to grow government. It’s simple math. The only reason Pledge signers were wholly irrelevant at the end of the session is because we were two Pledge signers short.
All that said, why is it that only conservatives are supposed to compromise their principles?
Did Democrats compromise on ending collective bargaining for government workers, which has resulted in nearly bankrupting local governments?
Did Democrats compromise on school vouchers so that low-income parents whose children are trapped in a Failure Factory public school would have the means to send them somewhere else to get a better education?
Did Democrats compromise on ending “prevailing wage,” which is nothing more than a Big Labor welfare program which needlessly drives up the taxpayer cost for public works projects?
Did Democrats compromise on reigning in lawsuit abuse by trial lawyers who are having a field day, for example, suing plumbers for alleged “construction defects” in roofing?
Did Democrats compromise on NOT raising taxes?
Again, why is it that only Republicans are supposed to “compromise” on a core issue, hmmmm?
Former Sen. Bill Raggio loves to say “compromise” isn’t a four-letter word. Well…neither is “no.”
Bottom line: The problem for fiscal conservatives isn’t that some Republicans had the courage to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge; it’s that not enough of them did. Which goes back to one of my favorite sayings which I believe was coined by the Club for Growth:
It’s not enough to just elect more Republicans; you need to elect better ones, as well.