How Does The Pledge Affect US Policy?

The growing US deficit was a political hot topic throughout the 2012 election and for the last four years. And while Republicans claim that reducing the deficit should be top priority for the next president, they are insistent that raising taxes should never, under any circumstances, be part of the solution.

Let’s imagine a scenario. Two airplanes are crashed into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon, and one crashes in a field in Pennsylvania. The country decides to attack the perpetrators. Then they decide to go to war with Iraq. But the politicians WILL NOT raise taxes to pay for these new drains on the country’s resources.

Why not? Because President George W. Bush and the Republican members of Congress signed Norquist’s pledge.

When George W. Bush took office, the actual budget surplus was $236 billion with a 10-year projected budget surplus of $5.6 trillion. When he left office in 2009, the actual budget deficit was $1.3 trillion and a 10-year projected deficit of $8 trillion.

One could argue that the Bush tax cuts were justified when your government is projecting a surplus. And there are several reasons for the ballooning debt. But the crucial issue here is that when circumstances changed, and when our politicians decided to take the country to war, their pledge to a lobbyist prevented them from paying for those policy decisions by raising taxes. If the issue of raising taxes to pay for the wars had been debated, would the American public have been so supportive of the wars? Maybe. But the deficit would not be at the same level that it is today.



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