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Norquist pledge: Are GOP tax rebels start of a trend or just talk? (+video)

Norquist pledge, which calls for lawmakers to oppose new taxes, has another defector: Republican Sen. Bob Corker. But key players in 'fiscal cliff' negotiations have yet to join ranks of such GOP rebels.

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Second, these revelations aren’t exactly new. The lawmakers involved have either endorsed tax increases in the past as part of a deficit deal (Chambliss, Corker), often floated initiatives of one kind or another, only to back down (Graham), or are moderate Republicans in a district surrounded by Democratic areas (King), writes David Dayen Monday on the left-leaning Firedoglake blog.

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Washington Editor

Peter Grier is The Christian Science Monitor's Washington editor. In this capacity, he helps direct coverage for the paper on most news events in the nation's capital.

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“There’s no news here at all, but instead a fake Washington drama based on personality,” writes Mr. Dayen.

Third, the counterattack from the right has already begun. Grover Norquist himself on CNN’s "Starting Point" on Monday played down the issue, saying it’s nothing but a few lawmakers “discussing impure thoughts on national television." Some conservative activists have been more pointed, saying that all those involved risk facing primary challenges from the right if they maintain such an attitude.

The antitax pledge isn’t about taxes per se; it’s about keeping the size of the government as small as possible, writes Daniel Horowitz Monday at the conservative RedState blog.

“On this core issue, Republicans like Chambliss and Graham side with Democrats. We side with the Constitution,” writes Mr. Horowitz.

One final thought: If individual GOP lawmakers, such as those mentioned above, truly believe the antitax pledge shouldn’t prevent a fiscal cliff solution, should they just keep quiet about it, pending negotiations?

That’s because Speaker Boehner faces tough talks with the White House. In terms of game theory, Boehner might benefit from administration uncertainty as to where the rank-and-file GOP stands.

Theoretically, President Obama might give in a bit more if the administration comes to believe that Republican backbenchers would revolt at revenue increases.

“Boehner may ironically (but completely classically from a game theoretic vantage point) benefit from being able to portray himself (accurately or not) as not being able to corral his own troops. ‘Sir, I told them gruel was sufficient to survive the night, but they simply insisted they’d die without gruyere,’ ” writes John Patty, an associate professor of political science at Washington University in St. Louis, on his blog, The Math of Politics.


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