Mainers share an illustrious tradition of approaching problems with reason, independent thinking and open minds. Today, that seems the mark of an endangered species.
What is blocking a reasonable agreement on federal deficit reduction? It’s something called the Norquist pledge (euphemistically named the "taxpayer protection pledge"). Unless those elected representatives who have taken that ideological “no new taxes” pledge renounce it in recognition of a higher duty to country, there won’t be a budget solution that preserves the nation's economic recovery.
Grover Norquist began his anti-taxation campaign in the late 1980s, founding the (also euphemistically named) "Americans for Tax Reform." He then used it to threaten pledge signers with big-money smear campaigns if they ever tried to reclaim their right to independent judgments on tax and spending policy.
But don't we, in fact, elect our representatives to exercise their judgment for the good of the nation? Ideological pledges undermine democracy.
The central underlying question in the current debate is whether to return to the exercise of independent judgment, acknowledging the error of ideologically motivated pledges.
Recently, a few members of Congress are rethinking the appropriateness of the pledge. We can be proud that Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe always rejected Norquist’s ideological pledge, taking seriously their responsibility to think for themselves about what is best for the public and this country. Now they need to convince more of their Republican colleagues to do the same.
Then we could hope for a balanced approach — deficit reduction with continued economic growth.
Robert Allison, Greene