Saturday, July 30, 2011

Prelude to default: Florida's signatories of the "no new taxes" oath

Posted By on Sat, Jul 30, 2011 at 3:17 PM

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The clock is ticking. In three days, the United States is expected to default on its debts—that is, unless Republicans and Democrats in Washington can agree on legislation to raise the country’s debt ceiling, currently set at $14.3 trillion. Some observers, like James Surowiecki of the New Yorker, find the ceiling an unnecessary regulation, its negative consequences “disastrously out of proportion to the behavior it’s trying to regulate akin to shooting yourself in the head for failing to follow your diet.” But President Obama, Congress, and the Treasury Department appear to be taking the issue deadly seriously, so now the question is: what’s taking so long to reach a deal? According to the New York Times editorial board, the fault rests largely with a once-obscure document called the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” and the Republicans who have signed it. Pioneered by Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, the pledge, according to the Times, “is the single biggest reason the federal government is now on the edge of default.” Here’s the U.S. Senate version of Norquist’s pledge:

I, _____________, pledge to the taxpayers of the state of ____________, and to the American people that I will:

ONE, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses; and

TWO, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.

And with that, a balanced approach to cutting the deficit—that is, spending cuts and tax increases—goes out the window, leaving unpopular and unnecessary austerity measures as the sole remaining option. With the potential consequences of Norquist’s oath in mind, let’s take a look at its adherents in the Sunshine State, shall we? We'll start at the Congressional level. As for the Senate, the results are predictable: Republican Marco Rubio is a signatory, Democrat Bill Nelson is not. In the House of Representatives, all 19 of the state’s Republican Congresspeople have signed the pledge. None of the state’s six Democratic representatives, on the other hand, have joined them.

U.S. Senate

FL-Sen Marco Rubio (R)

U.S. Congress:

FL-01 Jeff Miller (R)

FL-02 Steve Southerland (R)

FL-04 Ander Crenshaw (R)

FL-05 Richard Nugent (R)

FL-06 Cliff Stearns (R)

FL-07 John Mica (R)

FL-08 Daniel Webster (R)

FL-09 Gus Bilirakis (R)

FL-10 Bill Young (R)

FL-12 Dennis Ross (R)

FL-13 Vern Buchanan (R)

FL-14 Connie Mack (R)

FL-15 Bill Posey (R)

FL-16 Tom Rooney (R)

FL-18 Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R)

FL-21 Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R)

FL-22 Allen West (R)

FL-24 Sandy Adams (R)

FL-25 David Rivera (R)

The pledge has been less successful at the state level. Norquist’s oath has been signed by only seven of the state’s 28 Republican senators and 32 of the state’s 81 Republican representatives. Two Democrats have broken ranks and signed the pledge – Reps. Luis Garcia Jr. and John Patrick Julien, both from Miami-Dade County.

Florida Senate: 7 Senators of 40

Greg Evers (S-2)

Mike Fasano (S-11)

Mike Haridopolos (S-26)

Joe Negron (S-28)

Jim Norman (S-12)

John Thrasher (S-8)

Stephen Wise (S-5)

Florida House: 34 House members of 120

Janet Adkins (H-12)

Larry Ahern (H-51)

Frank Artiles (H-119)

Dennis Baxley (H-24)

Michael Bileca (H-117)

Jeffrey P. Brandes (H-52)

Jason Brodeur (H-33)

Rachel Burgin (H-56)

Matt Caldwell (H-73)

Dean Cannon (H-35)

Steve Crisafulli (H-32)

Clay Ford (H-3)

Luis R. Garcia Jr. (H-107)

Rich Glorioso (H-62)

Tom Goodson (H-29)

Doug Holder (H-70)

Clay Ingram (H-2)

John Patrick Julien (H-104)

Paige Kreegel (H-72)

Carlos Lopez-Cantera (H-113)

Debbie Mayfield (H-80)

Seth McKeel (H-63)

Marlene O’Toole (H-42)

Kathleen C. Passidomo (H-76)

Warren Keith Perry (H-22)

Ray Pilon (H-69)

Steve Precourt (H-41)

William L. Proctor (H-20)

Ken Roberson (H-71)

William Snyder (H-82)

Greg Steube (H-67)

Charles Van Zant (H-21)

Trudi K. Williams (H-75)

John Wood (H-65)

It should be noted that although Norquist’s pledge has not been embraced as wholeheartedly on the state level as it has in Washington, Florida’s three most powerful public officials– Senate President Mike Haridopolos, House Speaker Dean Cannon, and Gov. Rick Scott—are all signatories.

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