U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist blamed each other for blocking changes to U.S. fiscal policy that would reduce the federal budget deficit.
Republicans who sign Norquist’s pledge against tax increases are the obstacle to a long-term fiscal deal, said Schumer, a New York Democrat. Schumer and Democrats who want to raise taxes are at fault for enabling government spending, said Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.
Democrats continued their attacks on the pledge today as Norquist met with about 100 staff members and 20 House Republicans in the Ways and Means Committee’s hearing room in Washington.
“Grover Norquist is the problem around here, and bipartisanship in the Senate is the solution,” Schumer told reporters.
Norquist’s pledge requires its signers to oppose all tax increases and to use any revenue from limiting tax breaks to reduce tax rates. All except six House Republicans and seven Senate Republicans have signed it.
“Raising taxes is what some politicians want to do instead of reforming government,” Norquist said after the meeting.
Schumer, President Barack Obama and other Democrats want higher taxes for top earners as part of a deficit reduction plan. Most Republicans reject that idea, and, in addition to the pledge, they cite their opposition to higher taxes.
“The only solution to taming an out-of-control-spending government is to cut spending,” presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who has signed the pledge, said on June 17 on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Some Senate Republicans, including Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, have openly broken with Norquist. Others, including Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Mike Crapo of Idaho, have been involved in bipartisan deficit-reduction negotiations with Democrats.
Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, said today that, while he isn’t “religiously opposed” to taxes, he is concerned that Democrats’ tax-raising approach would squelch economic growth.
“I am in favor of more revenue for government so that government can do two things with that revenue: It can pay down the debt, and it can fund the essential things that the federal government should do,” Rubio told reporters in Washington at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. “I think the way you generate that revenue is through more taxpayers, not more taxes.”
If Congress doesn’t act by the end of the year to avert a so-called fiscal cliff, spending cuts and tax increases totaling $607 billion will take effect, and the economy would probably go into recession, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
In recent weeks, Rubio said, a bipartisan sense has been emerging that any long-term solution to the nation’s economic woes would need to include a mix of spending cuts and revenue increases to promote growth.
“I think there’s a consensus that you can’t only cut your way out of this, and you can’t only tax your way out of this,” he said. “The only way out of this predicament is ’How do you grow your way out of this?’”