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Some GOP candidates turn backs on Norquists tax reform party

| Friday, Nov. 2, 2012, 7:06 p.m.
Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, poses for a portrait in his office in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, July 12, 2011. Norquist, a small-government advocate has spent the last quarter-century pressing lawmakers to sign a pledge never to raise taxes, insists that any elimination of tax breaks must be accompanied by an equal reduction in taxes elsewhere. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Grover Norquist

There are 279 members of Congress who've pledged in writing to march in lockstep with the group Americans for Tax Reform and vote against tax increases.

If the analysts are right, that number probably will fall next year, making life tougher for the anti-tax gadfly Democrats love to hate: Grover Norquist, president of the group behind the pledge. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report and Rothenberg Political Report project that Republicans could lose as many as 10 seats, and at least eight of the Republicans viewed as shoo-ins for the freshman class haven't signed the pledge.

“You're pledging to an ideology of someone who's not in government -- he's a lobbyist -- and I just don't think that's a smart move,” said Ted Yoho, a Republican running in Florida's 3rd Congressional District. “It just ties your hand and it limits you. I just think it impedes the lawmaker.”

The losses may signal higher odds that there is at least some room for bipartisan compromise on the so-called fiscal cliff of spending cuts and tax increases facing the U.S. Congress. Norquist's pledge-signers are viewed by Democrats, and even some Senate Republicans, as the primary obstacle to reaching any deal on the cliff or crafting a major overhaul of the tax code next year, both of which may result in increased revenue in the way of higher taxes.

Washington seems to be headed toward “a time when Grover Norquist's pledge is not going to mean as much as it has in the past,” said Diane Lim Rogers, chief economist at the Concord Coalition, an Arlington, Virginia-based group that advocates for deficit reduction and was founded by the late former Senator Paul Tsongas, a Massachusetts Democrat, and former Republican Senator Warren Rudman of New Hampshire.

Either Congress will find a technicality to raise revenue without violating the pledge or lawmakers will “get more pressure from the public and interest groups that some kind of revenue-side solution is needed,” she said yesterday.

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