Fox commentator and bestselling author Dick Morris has pointed out that the great divide in American politics is between those candidates who will sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge committing them to oppose and vote against any an all tax hikes and those who refuse to sign this pledge.
And in 2010, our nation’s first Tea Party election year, it is increasingly clear that voters cast their votes for candidates who are willing to put, with two witnesses, their signature on the pledge to oppose tax increases.
In the recently decided California Senate race, moderate Republican Tom Campbell was running ahead of former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and California State Assemblyman and conservative leader Chuck DeVore. Campbell claimed to be a fiscal conservative and a social moderate. He was pro-choice on abortion and supported same sex marriages, issues that might be expected to appeal to California when attached to fiscal conservatism.
But while Fiorina and DeVore cheerfully signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, Campbell refused to promise in writing that he would never raise taxes. Fiorina released a television ad highlighting Campbell ’s refusal to sign the pledge. Dick Morris posted his back and forth with Campbell, entreating and challenging him to sign the pledge while Campbell wanted to keep the door open to tax hikes as an option.
Interestingly, GOProud, the new conservative gay group chaired by conservative talk show host and author Tammy Bruce, ran ads attacking Campbell for refusing to sign the pledge. Odd because Campbell supports gay marriage and Fiorina and DeVore opposed it. The conservative gay group focused on supporting pledge signers over tax hikers.
Campbell fell from first to second place and Fiorina won the GOP nomination to tackle left-wing Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer.
In the California GOP primary race for governor, both Steve Poizner and ultimate winner Meg Whitman signed the pledge.
And while government overspending in all states has Democrats clamoring for higher taxes to pay for the overspending, almost every Republican candidate for governor has signed the pledge against tax hikes, promising to focus on spending restraint rather than tax hikes to pay for overspending.
GOP gubernatorial candidates John Kasich of Ohio, Bill Brady of Illinois, Bill McCollum and Rick Scott of Florida, all five GOP candidates in Georgia, every primary candidate for governor in South Carolina including vote leaders Nikki Haley and Gresham Barrett, Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania, Rick Perry of Texas, and all GOP candidates challenging tax-hiking Gov. Jan Brewer in Arizona.
Nationally there are 173 members of the U.S. House and 412 candidates for House seats who have signed the pledge and 33 sitting senators and 70 2010 candidates for the Senate as well as over 1,100 incumbent state legislators and nearly a thousand challengers for state legislative races have signed the pledge.
The only Republican Senate challengers with a chance to win who have not yet signed the pledge are North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven and Delaware Rep. Mike Castle.
The only credible Republican House challengers who have not yet signed the pledge are Allen West of Florida , Richard Hanna of New York and Morgan Griffith of Virginia .
Even abortion and guns do not provide as powerful and real a divide.
Rahm Emanuel recruited “moderate” or “Blue Dog” Democrats in 2006 and 2008 who promised to behave on the 2nd Amendment and the pro-life issue. Rep. Bart Stupak and his ilk showed that Democrats have been willing to lie for years about where they really stand on the pro-life issue until the left needed their vote for government-funded abortions in the Obamacare package. In 1994, dozens of Democrats who won election with the NRA’s endorsement took the first opportunity to vote for gun control.
But almost no Democrats or liberal Republicans will sign the pledge against tax hikes. Why? Perhaps because unlike other promises, this one is in writing, with a signature and two witnesses. Perhaps because the most famous pledge taker—“read my lips” George H.W. Bush—threw away a perfectly good presidency with one breaking of his signed pledge never to raise taxes. No one’s life is a complete waste. Some serve as bad examples.
This great divide between those who publically and irrevocably take tax increases off the table and demand spending restraint and those who remain “open” to tax increases in place of spending cuts is dramatically revealed in the 2010 elections.
The Tea Party movement is demanding that candidates commit to reducing government spending. Politicians are forced to focus on spending only when tax increases are permanently and irrevocably off the table. Then and only then will elected officials do the hard work of prioritizing, ending failed programs and laying off the incompetent.
Raising taxes is what politicians do when they don’t have the strength to actually govern.
The taxpayer protection pledge was created in 1986 by Americans for Tax Reform as part of the effort to protect the lower marginal tax rates of Reagan’s Tax Reform Act of 1986. It has grown in importance as one of the few black-and-white, yes or no, answers that politicians are forced to give to voters before they ask for their vote.