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Open Letter to Georgia Residents and Senator Saxby Chambliss

Senator Saxby Chambliss has pledged to break from Grover Norquist's "Taxpayer Protection Pledge." Georgia voters must tell him to stay true to his word for the good of the country.

For the past week, “Georgia on My Mind” has been playing on political talk shows. Not the state’s theme song, but the growing role played by the state’s Senior US Senator Saxby Chambliss in the ongoing talks on the fiscal cliff crisis has gotten the political establishment focused on the Peach and Pecan state.

Following the 2012 election, Chambliss spoke on the Veterans’ Day edition of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” along with Democrat Patty Murray. Chambliss, a newcomer to the Sunday Morning talk show circuit, carried himself very well with Murray, also a relative unknown to the media.

Following their comments on the Petraus scandal, the fiscal cliff controversy dominated the rest of the discussion. As a member of last year’s Super Committee, Murray commanded a greater knowledge of the dealings and the resistance from both sides to comprehensive reform. 

A number of times Murray emphasized that revenues must be included, reciting “The wealthy have to pay their fair share.” Murray expressed measured confidence that Congress would resolve the fiscal cliff. Murray's call for "fairness" is meaningless at best and suspect at worst. "Fairness" remains a nebulous policy position, one which has little bearing on serious fiscal reform.

Chambliss acknowledged that revenues have to be part of the next deal, but the government has to cut spending. He next pointed out the need for broad  entitlement reform, the primary expenditure "choking" the country's economy. By eliminating a host of tax deductions, Congress could lower overall tax rates while generating over $1.3 trillion in revenue,  Chambliss added.

True to his conservative roots, Chambliss stressed that the economy needs to get working again. Tax increases on private firms will kill 700,000 jobs. “Now is not the time to raise taxes – not on job creators," Chambliss added, quoting President Obama from earlier this year. Murray brought up the Senate bill extending the Bush tax cuts for 98% of Americans. Chambliss properly countered that the bill passed on a party-line vote. The House should not agree on such a plan, but rather sek a common-ground solution must attract widespread support from both parties.

I was impressed by the comity and candor of the two senators. Neither rising stars nor firebrands in their caucus, they presented compromise instead of political calculation. Following the collegial conference, one would expected that both sides would find common ground to cut spending, reform entitlements, and provide a pathway for economic recovery.

Unfortunately, two weeks later Senator Chambliss decided to break the Grover Norquist “Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” which he had signed twenty years ago. In a recent telephone conference call, Chambliss submitted that times have changed,  and this problem requires flexibility for meaningful reform. Chambliss predicted that Norquist will endorse a challenger against him in his 2014 reelection campaign. “I care more about my country than Grover Norquist,” Chambliss submitted at the end of the conference.

Following Chambliss’ open decision to break the “No New Tax” pledge, Norquist argued that Chambliss must explain himself to his constituents in Georgia for choosing to break his pledge not to raise taxes.

Mr. Chambliss’ patriotism is indubitable. Voters should honor his interest to be independent. He wants to do the right thing, let the political consequences fall where they may. Every state should welcome such leadership and integrity from their representatives. Before mounting a challenge against his candidacy, the people of Georgia must impress on their senator not to raise taxes during the struggling economy which has not improved adequately under President Obama’s leadership. While his decision may deter brinkmanship, it does not determine a better course for this country.

Even though the Republicans failed to take the Senate or the White House, their stable majority in the House of Representatives testifies to the majority of Americans' opposition to tax increases. Senator Chambliss argued that tax increases will hurt businesses and kill jobs. He needs to heed his own concern.

Georgia voters have been on many minds since Chambliss’ pledge to break his pledge not to raise taxes. In no way should limited government conservatives like Chambliss entertain budgeing on their values unless Democrats budget for entitlement reform that protect the programs and provides for their future.

By all means, Chambliss should consider ending all corporate and agribusiness subsidies and revoke “wealthy welfare”, which includes federally subsidized homeowner’s insurance for residents who insist along living by hurricane-battered coastlines. Tax deductions can be on the table, too, but by no means should Chambliss revoke his "no taxes" pledge without hearing from his constituents.

Please contact Senator Chambliss and tell him to maintain his pledge to protect jobs, encourage wealth, and stand by the best interests of his state and the country. Tell Senator Chambliss: "For the good of the country, no tax increases until Congress enacts real budget cuts and entitlement reform."

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Michael k November 26, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Senator Chambliss and other Republican leaders should be commended for their decision to discount the Norquist pledge as they enter into negotiations with the President and Democrats over the best course of action to take in order to raise federal revenues and bring down federal spending. If anything was made apparent by the most recent election it is that neither party was given a mandate and the two opposing sides need to work together to come up with a compromise to address the economic issues facing the country. Entering into negotiations with a firm "no new taxes" limitation wouldn't be a good way to start those negotiations. I hope Mr. Norquist's influence over Republicans will continue to wane.
Laurie Anderson November 26, 2012 at 03:49 PM
I am curious about the use of "[U]nfortunately" to descrbe Senator Chabllss' considering no long abiding by Grover Norquist's "no new taxes" pledge. It is time that we had representatives of both parties willing to step away from their self-induced states of ideological stupor and actually work for the good of the whole country. The bulk of the deficit is from the Bush tax cuts (the two unfunded wars come in a distant second as deficit contributors). Returning to the Clinton tax rates when we had incredble job creation and a SURPLUS hardly strikes me as unreasonable.
Pat McAlexander November 26, 2012 at 07:04 PM
Amen to Michael K's posting. I would contact Senator Chambliss and encourage him to feel free of this unreasonable pledge for the good of the coluntry!!
Watts November 26, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Norquist's reign of terror is over. While Republicans have the majority in the House, Norquist's contract signees do not have the numbers within that Republican majority to hold up anything anymore. Too have elected officials signing contracts with third parties for any reason is an embarrassment to the electoral process. We hire members of congress, through our votes, to do what is best for the nation and not to opening be beholden to any one person's whim. How this has gone on for so long has amazed me. I would never vote for anybody who is signing any such contracts on any issue, if it ties their hands to do what is best for this nation. Grover, don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.
Chris P November 27, 2012 at 05:21 PM
I would tell the good Senator that before he and his colleagues consider raising taxes, they need to cut spending. There is waste and fraud that needs to eliminated. Agencies can be consolidated for efficiency. The tax code can be simplified. Unnecessary programs can be ended. In short until the government can prove that it can reduce spending I will not be supporting any increase in taxes.
Watts November 27, 2012 at 09:30 PM
But who is to determine what is an "unnecessary" program? What might be perceived as unnecessary to me, may be vital for you. Or what you and I may even agree seems unnecessary may be vital to yet another sector of our society.

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