The Richmond Register

December 3, 2012

Fiscal cliff is not steep enough to sway true conservatives

By Jim Waters
Bluegrass Institute

— Former Lexington radio talk-show host Leland Conway once asked his listeners to send pork rinds to Washington after some liberals in Congress claimed the American people didn’t care about wasteful spending amendments.

Listeners frustrated with contemptible Beltway politicians’ lack of respect for taxpayers responded by sending 1,500 bags to the office of New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer in response to the lawmaker’s asinine claim that “the American people really don’t care” about those “little tiny, yes, porky amendments.”

It may be time for another message from Kentucky.

Only this time, rather than sending pork rinds to the politicians playing fat and sassy with our tax dollars, I believe we need to send calcium supplements to assist congressional leaders in growing a backbone for the fight currently taking place on the precipice of the so-called fiscal cliff.

Specifically, we should send calcium supplements to Republican politicians who have never minded bragging about – and reaping the political benefits of – signing the famous Taxpayer Protection Pledge, but who now are wavering in the face of pressure from the Obama administration’s take-no-prisoners approach to raising taxes on Americans who make more than $250,000 a year.

The pledge was created several years ago by Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, and requires signers to “pledge to oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses,” and to “oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.”

The only member of Kentucky’s congressional delegation failing to sign the pledge is Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville. Speaking of asinine claims, Yarmuth once said he thought signing such a commitment not to raise taxes violated lawmakers’ oath of office because they pledge “not to exercise some of the responsibility that the Constitution grants you.”

Before the current election, 238 out of the 242 Republicans in the House and all but six GOP Senators had basked in the glow of being able to campaign that their loyalty to “the pledge” made them true conservatives. But now some of these Republicans think they will appear more statesmanlike if they default on their promise not to raise taxes.

Some appear as delusional as Schumer by acting as if they really believe that progressives will actually cut government spending in any meaningful way in exchange for Republicans smudging their brand as the party of lower taxes.

House Speaker John Boehner should stop groveling at Obama’s feet long enough to recall that even Ronald Reagan, who was president when Americans for Tax Reform opened its doors in 1985, was promised spending cuts by then-Speaker Thomas “Tip” O’Neill.

Those cuts never happened, and they’re sure not about to happen now without dramatic measures.

The big-government crowd that elected and reelected Obama & Co. is adamant that spending on social programs not be cut.

Neither are they to be trusted to support entitlement reforms.

Fiscal conservatives should be doing what big-spending leftists do when the heat is on: double down on their principles.

After all, if pledges and principles of lower taxes, limited government and individual liberty wither in the heat, then they never were any good in the first place.

“The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold,” says Proverbs 17:3. And, if I may – the approaching fiscal cliff is for tax protection pledge signers.

If the “fining pot” and the “furnace” exposes and removes impurities from precious metals, then a President and his cronies threatening to accuse you of raising taxes on all Americans because you refuse to engage in his class-warfare strategy separates the true conservatives from the con men.

Jim Waters is acting president of the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at jwaters@freedomkentucky.com. Read previously published columns at www.freedomkentucky.org/bluegrassbeacon.