The search for sane republicans can be a sisyphean task at times, but every once in a while there are glimmers of hope. In the past few months, a few Republicans have come forward to make the point that perhaps a blanket prohibition on raising any taxes ever isn’t a great position to take, especially when the government is running big deficits. Jeff Fortenberry, a Republican congressman from Nebraska, is one of the few sitting Congressmen to decide not to renew Grover Norquist’s “no tax” pledge. Here he is explaining that decision to The American Conservative:
RD: You broke party ranks last year by refusing to renew your pledge not to vote for any future tax increases. Since when do Republican congressmen dare to defy Grover Norquist?
JF: My responsibility is to make judgments about hard, complex issues that I believe to be right. Simply looking at the status quo and suggesting that the tax code is sacrosanct and can never change, and that decisions made in the ’80s and ’90s can never change, is absurd. The tax code is weighted toward the ultra-wealthy and ultra-wealthy corporations, and has created an offshore aristocracy of people who can afford to hire an army of accountants and lawyers. This shifts the tax burden to small businesses, entrepreneurs, and others. I don’t want to see taxes go up on any hardworking American. We need a simpler, fairer tax code. Removing special-interest loopholes could potentially increase revenues and allow for lower rates.
I’m sure there’s a lot that I’d disagree with Fortenberry about, whether it’s fiscal policy, health care or social issues. But it sure is nice to see at least one Republican stand up to Norquist and his absurd pledge.