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U.S. editorial excerpts -3-.

NEW YORK, Nov. 27 Kyodo

Selected editorial excerpts from the U.S. press:

REPUBLICANS AND THE TAX PLEDGE (The Wall Street Journal, New York)

One of the more amazing post-election spectacles is the media celebration of Republicans who say they're willing to repudiate their pledge against raising taxes. So the same folks who like to denounce politicians because they can't be trusted are now praising politicians who openly admit they can't be trusted.

The spectacle is part of what is becoming a tripartisan-Democrats, media, some Republicans-attempt to stigmatize Grover Norquist as the source of all Beltway fiscal woes and gridlock. Mr. Norquist, who runs an outfit called Americans for Tax Reform, is the fellow who came up with the no-new-taxes pledge some 20 years ago. He tries to get politicians to sign it, and hundreds of Republicans have done so.

Grover's -- everyone calls him Grover -- apparent crime against Washington is that he now actually wants to hold politicians to what they willingly signed. If enough Republicans will disavow their tax pledge, then the capital crowd can go about agreeing to a grand fiscal bargain that raises taxes, pretends to cut spending and avoids the January 1 fiscal crack-up that the politicians have set us up for. Voters are supposed to believe that only Grover stands in the way of this happy ever-after.

If Republicans in Congress want to repudiate the pledge, they are free to do so at any time. They could even quote Edmund Burke's line that a democratic representative owes his electors his best judgment, not a slavish fealty to majority opinion. But that would mean saying they didn't mean it when they signed the pledge. So they are now busy pretending that Mr. Norquist is a modern Merlin who conned them into signing the pledge and must be eliminated before they can do the "right thing" and raise taxes.

The fact is that Republicans and Mr. Norquist both face a new political reality on taxes. President Obama's re-election means that taxes for upper-income earners are going up one way or another. The Bush rates expire on December 31 unless Mr. Obama signs an extension, and he shows no inclination to do so except for anyone earning less than $250,000 a year ($200,000 if you're single). The question is how Republicans should handle this reality while staying true to their principles and doing the least harm to the economy.

The one thing Republicans shouldn't do is join the media and Democratic chorus that Mr. Norquist and his pledge are the root of our political and economic woes. The real problems are a political class that won't control its spending and economic policies that are retarding growth. That's where the GOP should keep its public focus.

Mr. Norquist's tax pledge has been one of the few restraints over the years against those bad Beltway appetites. Democrats demonize Grover because they know this. They want to pit Mr. Norquist against other Republicans precisely so they can dispirit the tea party grass-roots and take away the tax issue as a GOP advantage.

Republican voters know that elections have consequences and that Mitt Romney's defeat means there will be policy defeats too. But they will give the House and Senate GOP credit if it fights for its principles and drives a hard bargain. The voters are also smart enough to know that Republicans who focus on Mr. Norquist are part of the problem.

(Nov. 27)
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Dec 3, 2012
Words:575
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