Column: An oath and a pledge

My column this week focuses on the Taxpayer Protection Pledge that 19 legislators signed before this year’s session. I don’t think they should have done so.

The pledge was pushed by Americans for Tax Reform, a Washington, D.C., outfit led by Grover Norquist that opposes all tax increases. It states that legislators will “oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.”

My point in the column is that signing such a pledge makes legislators beholden to a special interest group like ATR and forces them into rigid ideological positions.

That dynamic was clearly at work in this session. When faced with the question of allowing Arkansans to vote on highway tax increases, at least two legislators have said that, rather than letting their consciences be their guides, they instead relied on Norquist. Moreover, the pledge forced legislators into performing all kinds of moral and mental gymnastics. Five didn’t vote for or against a $1 fee increase to fund the Arkansas State Police retirement fund. I’m pretty sure the pledge was the reason they took that somewhat wishy-washy route.

What about you? Should legislators sign such pledges before a session?

By the way, here is the list of signers.

2 thoughts on “Column: An oath and a pledge

  1. You are on the money, Steve. Politicians should never paint themselves into a corner like that. Bush 41 got burned when he campaigned one way on taxes and then realized he had to govern another way.

    The problem is that a large section of the political right in America seems to view taxes as evil. That’s not a sensible or responsible way to look at things. Some taxes may be harmful, and others may be beneficial. Rather than making a sweeping ideological pledge against ever, EVER, voting to raise taxes, why not evaluate taxes and tax increases on a case-by-case basis?

  2. Thanks for reading, young Skywalker. I agree – I wish conservatives would be more flexible on raising taxes. especially to keep the country from going ever farther into debt. If we don’t pay for our government, then our children will. And I wish liberals would be more open to spending cuts.

    Rigid ideology is making it impossible for the two parties to work together to address the country’s long-term problems. Will they ever be willing to work on a case-by-case basis?

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