Mon., November 26, 2012 2:28pm (EST)

Chambliss Backs Off Tax Pledge
By Joshua Stewart
Updated: 1 year ago

ATLANTA  —  
Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss has joined several Republicans who have recently said they will consider new revenue as part of a deal to cut federal spending and pay down debt to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff.” The lawmakers are backing away from a no-new-taxes pledge promoted by Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform. (Photo Courtesy of Office of Sen. Saxby Chambliss.)
Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss has joined several Republicans who have recently said they will consider new revenue as part of a deal to cut federal spending and pay down debt to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff.” The lawmakers are backing away from a no-new-taxes pledge promoted by Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform. (Photo Courtesy of Office of Sen. Saxby Chambliss.)
Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss is edging back from a pledge he signed not to raise taxes or eliminate deductions and seems to be positioning himself as a power player in the negotiations over severe federal budget cuts known as the fiscal cliff.

The pledge comes from the anti-tax group Americans for Tax Reform, headed by Grover Norquist. It has more or less been a litmus test for the GOP in recent years, but Chambliss and some other Republicans are starting to distance themselves.

“[The pledge is] valid now, but times have changed,” Chambliss told Macon’s WMAZ-TV last week. “I care more about this country than I do a 20-year-old pledge.”

He and the other Republicans say everything needs to be on the table as Congress negotiates on the budget and the nation’s debt.

“Georgia’s moving toward purple – it’s not a purple state yet, but it’s moving in that direction – and so I think in a state that has been red and is moving kind of toward purple, it probably really behooves a senator to have cross-party appeal, be a moderate,” said Chris Grant, a Mercer University political science professor.

He said Chambliss’ comments and his involvement with the bipartisan “Gang of 6” working on the debt gives him a chance to have an impact on what will be part of a possible deal. And it gives him a broader role as a deal-maker and a moderate in the Senate who can influence what gets done in the chamber.

Grant said Chambliss’ shift does open him to a primary challenge next year from a more conservative candidate.

“However, it’s going to be hard to find a really high-quality challenger that’s willing to go up against him. He’s well-liked in Republican circles, he certainly has a base of support, and he’s already raised a substantial amount of money,” Grant said.

In the interview last week, Chambliss told WMAZ-TV he would consider cutting tax credits and loopholes in a budget deal that also reforms entitlement programs like Medicaid and Social Security.