The Corner

Coburn-Norquist Spat at DEFCON 1

Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.), of the Gang of Six, all but renounced the letter — if not the spirit — of the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” he signed, saying on Meet the Press Sunday that he would accept a net tax revenue increase (i.e. one obtained by broadening the tax base and eliminating some tax benefits) so long as it didn’t include an increase in rates.

“Which pledge is most important… the pledge to uphold your oath to the Constitution of the United States or a pledge from a special interest group who claims to speak for all American conservatives when, in fact, they really don’t?. . . . The fact is we have enormous urgent problems in front of us that have to be addressed and have to be addressed in a way that will get 60 votes in the Senate. . . and something that the president will sign.”  

 ”Where’s the compromise that will save our country?. . . This isn’t about politics that is normal.”

Here’s the vid:

ATR’s Grover Norquist, principal Coburn’s belligerent on the tax issue and the man who publicly called on him to drop out of the bipartisan Gang of Six deficit negotiations, was not happy with the senator’s interview, telling Politico that Coburn had “lied his way into office”:

“The pledge that Tom Coburn signed was to the citizens of Oklahoma. He made that promise in campaigning for Senate in Oklahoma.

Coburn said on national TV today that he lied his way into office and will vote to raise taxes if he damn well feels like it never mind what he promised the citizens of Oklahoma. Sen. Coburn knows perfectly well that the pledge is not to any organization but to the citizens of his state. He lied to them, not to Americans for Tax Reform.

Before this recent television comment, Coburn told me personally in a phone call that he would not vote for a tax increase and repeated his commitment in writing in a public letter to me.

Daniel Foster — Daniel Foster is a former news editor of National Review Online.

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