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Recently, speaking to a television station in Macon, Georgia, Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) said, "I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge." The Americans for Tax Reform pledge, by Grover Norquist, was signed by almost every Republican in Congress including Chambliss. His reversal on supporting the pledge not to raise taxes shone the spotlight on Chambliss as the latest Republican to bend to the Democrats since Obama's reelection. Later on Fox News' Hannity, Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) tried to explain his position in a spin so obvious it would make Jay Carney blush. The Saxby Spin can be seen here. Chambliss stated that he believes revenue can be created to combat the country's debt by eliminating all tax credits and reductions. Using the time-honored Democrat tactic of word play, Chambliss insisted that raising taxes and cutting tax breaks aren't the same, even though (as Hannity pointed out) they achieve the same result of Americans paying more to the federal government in taxes. In his original comments to the Macon television station, Chambliss also said, "We weren’t $17 trillion in debt 20 years ago when I signed that pledge. We’ve got to figure out the right way to get out of debt." In other words, when it's crunch time Chambliss won't stand behind his supposed values.
Interestingly, the tax code already provides caps for deductions. Increasing the caps or eliminating tax deductions all together is not only the same as increasing taxes on the wealthy, but also would have devastating effects on charitable giving. While the White House is currently trying to reassure the public that they know more about the finances of nonprofits than the charities do themselves, nonprofits across the country are (rightly) claiming otherwise. In his post, Regarding Saxby Chambliss, Erick Erickson makes another point that Chambliss has somehow missed - revenue has steadily increased over Chambliss' 17 years in Congress. So finding more revenue clearly isn't going to solve the debt issue facing America. More interesting than the debate over whether or not to cap/eliminate tax deductions, is the fact that the Democrats, with help from "republicans" like Chambliss and Lindsey Graham, have managed once again to change the conversation from what really matters.
What about cutting spending?! Democrats and Republicans in Washington seem unable to even approach the subject of cutting spending as a means of dealing with the debt crisis. As Rush Limbaugh pointed out, why is the public still footing the bill for federal pensions? Said Rush, "There is no reason for the taxpayers of this country to be experiencing the destruction they're already experiencing and then be told they have to pay even more taxes so that federal employees' pensions are protected and that federal employees wages are protected." Now we know Democrats won't slash their own pensions, or those of anyone in a union, and they don't believe in cutting spending. Republicans, however, have no excuse for not doing everything in their power to reduce spending. There is a bit of irony here when one considers how much they must spend trying to figure out why they've lost another Presidential election. Washington can break the loss down to not wooing this or that group of voters as much as they want, but the reality is that all Americans are tired of the faux concern over the debt with no real solutions ever coming forth. Clearly Republicans on the Hill do not remember November.
November 2010 to be exact. The Tea Party they are loath to admit makes up a large percentage of their base began with one request to the representatives: Stop spending. When Republicans couldn't bear to make the hard choices to cut spending, Tea Partiers cut the Republicans. Unfortunately, the job wasn't done and some, like Chambliss, managed to make it through the apparent referendum of the 2010 primaries. Unbeknownst at the time, Chambliss was among those unhappy with the unexpected rise of the Tea Party.
A couple of years ago a mutual friend from Macon went up to see Saxby. There was a tea party rally going on. As our mutual friend sat in the office waiting for Saxby, his staff stood around ridiculing the tea party activists going by as simpletons, uneducated, hicks, and nuts. Chambliss himself has been overheard talking disparagingly of tea party activists in the Capitol Hill Club and elsewhere.
That little gem, shared by Erickson, may just be the final push that voters need to show Chambliss the door when his next primary comes around. News of challengers to Chambliss has already begun, and the latest rumors indicate Karen Handel may be the one for the job. Handel, who has already served as Secretary of State in Georgia, made national headlines earlier this year for her role at Susan G. Komen where she served as Vice President of Public Policy. Komen, a long time financial supporter of Planned Parenthood, stood at odds with Handel when she championed the idea of the charity spending their money in places that are more in line with their life affirming goals than the nation's largest abortion provider. Handel knows how to make spending cuts and she knows where to cut them; Chambliss should be shaking in his boots.
While Chambliss and others have joined the Democrats in concocting ways to swindle more money from the American people, Conservatives and Tea Partiers will once again be joining together to remind them why they were sent to Washington. You aren't there to get cozy and make friends, you're there to cut spending and save the country. Now get to work.