SEARCH

Entries in Taxes (108)

Sunday
Mar172013

John Boehner: The ‘Talk About Raising Revenue Is Over’

TOBY JORRIN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz during an exclusive interview for This Week that talk of including revenue as part of an effort to strike a so-called “grand bargain” to address the $16 trillion debt of the United States was “over,” leaving Democrats and Republicans where they have been for months – at loggerheads.

“The president believes that we have to have more taxes from the American people. We’re not going to get very far,” Boehner said. “The president got his tax hikes on January 1.  The talk about raising revenue is over.  It’s time to deal with the spending problem.”

Boehner said the United States does not face an immediate debt problem, agreeing with recent comments by President Obama – but he added debt is an issue that will have to be addressed.

“We do not have an immediate debt crisis – but we all know that we have one looming,” he said. “And we have one looming because we have entitlement programs that are not sustainable in their current form. They’re going to go bankrupt.”

Boehner said “hope springs eternal” in regards to the possibility of a budget deal, and told Raddatz that he has a “very good relationship” with President Obama and that he “absolutely” trusts him. He added that the president’s recent outreach — or so called “charm offensive” –intended to woo Republicans, is a “good thing.”

“It’s always a good thing to engage in more conversation, engage more members in the conversation that have not been involved up to this point,” he said.

Raddatz asked Boehner about the divergent messages seeming to emerge from CPAC, this weekend’s conservative political conference, citing speeches by Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Marco Rubio.

“There’s nothin’ wrong with the principles of our party,” he said. “But Republicans have not done as an effective job as we should in terms of talking about our principles in terms that average people can appreciate — why balancing the budget, as an example, would be good for American families. We’ve got to do a better job of helping people understand what our principles are in terms that they deal with every day.”

On gun control, when asked if he would commit to a vote on the House floor Boehner told Raddatz ” we’ll see what the Senate does, we’ll review it, and we’re going to continue to have our hearings and review this issue.”

Lastly, Boehner, who is Catholic, addressed the election of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the new pope, Pope Francis.

“Well, this is the first time that we’ve had a pope from the Americas,” Boehner said. “So, I think it’s a giant step forward for the church.  Latin America is a very, very Catholic continent.  And I do believe that Pope Francis is the right person to really bring reform to the church.

“They’ve got a number of issues at the Vatican that I think need fresh eyes,” Boehner added. “And he’s clearly made a commitment to clean up some of the problems that the church has had.  And it’s pretty clear from his humble nature that his papacy will be one that I think a lot of people will appreciate.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb042013

Obama Talks Football, Gender Issues, Taxes Before Super Bowl

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As the nation geared up for the Super Bowl XLVII matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens, President Obama said he stood by his recent comments that as a parent he’d hesitate allowing his children to play football and that he viewed the contact sport differently in light of recent heightened national awareness of its health dangers.

In a pre-Super Bowl interview with CBS’ Scott Pelley, the president reiterated what he’d told the New Republic.

“It is a great sport, I am huge fan, but there is no doubt some of the concerns that we have learned about when it comes to concussions have to give parents pause,” he said.  “And as I said before.  I feel differently about the NFL, these are  grown men, they are well compensated, they know the risks that are involved.  But as we start thinking about the pipeline, Pop Warner, high school, college, I want to make sure we are doing everything we can to make the sport safer.”

The president admitted it may mean less drama for those “those of us who like to see a big hit,” but also acknowledged NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s recent commitment of $30 million to the National Institutes of Health to accelerate research into the bodily effects of the contact sport.

Capitalizing on the massive audience for the Super Bowl -- more than 111.3 million tuned in to watch last year and the game receives the highest viewer ratings of any broadcast -- each year, Obama has granted a game-day interview to whichever network airs the National Football League championship.

In a news cycle dominated by national debate on immigration reform and gun violence, Pelley on Sunday asked Obama about some topics that have received less attention, including military women in combat roles and whether the Boy Scouts should allow gay members into their organization.

In January, the Pentagon announced it would lift a long-standing ban on women serving in combat.  Pelley asked Obama if he had any hesitation as commander in chief in ordering female service members into harm’s way.

“I don’t,” Obama replied.

“Women as a practical matter are now in combat, they may not be treated as such, but when they are in theater in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, they are vulnerable, they are wounded and they have been killed, and they have carried out their jobs with extraordinary patriotism, and distinction,” he said.

The president said he’d met women soldiers who could do “anything that a man can” and that they should not be prevented from “advancing in an institution we all revere.”

Meanwhile, later this week, the Boy Scouts of America will convene to decide whether to allow members of the LGBT community out of their ranks.  Continuing his long-held stance, the president reiterated they should be allowed entry.

“My attitude is that gays and lesbians should have access and opportunities, the same way as everyone else does, in every institution and walk of life,” Obama continued.  “And you know the Scouts are a great institution, that are promoting young people and exposing them to opportunities and leadership that will serve people for the rest of their lives.  And I think nobody should be barred from that.”

The interview also touched on the fallout of the negotiations from the debt ceiling, in which the president signed legislation through Congress that raised taxes on annual household income over $450,000.  Pelley asked Obama whether he could promise not to raise rates again in his next term.

“There is no doubt we need additional revenue coupled with smart spending reductions,” Obama replied, reiterating his past stance on reduction of healthcare costs and closing tax loopholes.  He said the tax system needed to be “fair and transparent,” noting the average American couldn’t take advantage of loopholes or offshore accounts.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jan062013

Sen. Mitch McConnell: “The Tax Issue Is Finished”

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Sunday he will not accept any new revenue in future deals with congressional Democrats and President Obama.

“The tax issue is finished.  Over. Completed,” McConnell said on “This Week.” “That’s behind us. Now the question is what are we going to do about the biggest problem confronting our country and that’s our spending addiction.

“We didn’t have this problem because we weren’t taxing enough,” McConnell added.

He blamed Obama and Democrats for waiting to resolve budget issues until the last minute.

 “Why we end up in these last-minute discussions is beyond me. We need to function,” McConnell said. “I mean, the House of Representatives, for example, passed a budget every year.  They’ve passed appropriation bills.

“The Senate Democratic majority and the president seem to like these last-minute deals.”

McConnell said that the biggest issue facing the country in the next year is the deficit and spending. And he predicted that the issue would occupy the congressional agenda in the first three months of the year, overtaking Obama’s other priorities, including gun control.

“But the biggest problem we have at the moment is spending and debt,” McConnell said. “That’s going to dominate the Congress between now and the end of March.  None of these issues, I think, will have the kind of priority that spending and debt are going to have over the next two or three months.”

On the expected nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., as the secretary of Defense by Obama, McConnell said he would evaluate Hagel’s past statements before determining whether he could support his nomination in the Senate.

“I’m going to take a look at all the things that Chuck has said over the years and review that, and in terms of his qualifications to lead our nation’s military,” McConnell said. “The question we will be answering if he’s the nominee, is do his views make sense for that particular job?  I think he ought to be given a fair hearing, like any other nominee, and he will be.”

McConnell, who in 2008 praised Hagel for his clear voice and stature on foreign policy and national security, now says he will reserve judgment on his possible nomination until after a Senate confirmation hearing.

“I’m going to wait and see how the hearings go and see whether Chuck’s views square with the job he would be nominated to do,” he added.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Dec302012

Obama Suggests Any ‘Cliff’ Deal Would Be Small

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- With less than two days remaining for Congress to reach a budget agreement that would avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff,” President Obama on Sunday suggested that a small deal remains the best hope to avoid the perilous package of spending cuts and tax increases.

In an interview aired Sunday morning on NBC’s “Meet the Press” the president said if Republicans agreed to raising taxes on top income earners it should be enough to avoid the triggers that would execute the $607 billion measure. Economists agree that going over the cliff would likely put the country back in recession.

“If we have raised some revenue by the wealthy paying a little bit more, that would be sufficient to turn off what’s called the sequester, these automatic spending cuts, and that also would have a better outcome for our economy long-term,” he said.

Saying the “pressure is on Congress to produce,” the president did not specify what income level his party would deem acceptable as the cutoff for those who would see their tax rates remain at current levels. The president has called for expiration of the “Bush-era” tax cuts to affect household earnings over $250,000 since the campaign, but has reportedly floated a $400,000 figure in past negotiations. Speaker John Boehner once offered a $1 million cut-off in his failed “Plan B” proposal, which failed to garner enough support among the House Republicans.

“It’s been very hard for Speaker Boehner and Republican Leader McConnell  to accept the fact that taxes on the wealthiest Americans should go up a little bit as part of an overall deficit reduction package,” the president said.

Domestic programs would lose $55 billion in funding should sequestration pass, including $2 billion to Medicare and unemployment benefits. The Pentagon would take a $55 billion loss as well, or 9 percent of their budget.

Repeating remarks he made Friday after a meeting with congressional leaders, Obama said that should negotiations fail he has asked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to introduce a stripped- down proposal to Congress for a straight up-or-down vote – if it isn’t blocked.

“If all else fails, if Republicans do in fact decide to block so that taxes on the middle class do in fact go up on January 1, then we’ll come back with a new Congress on January 4, and the first bill that will be introduced on the floor will be to cut taxes on middle-class families,” he said of the worst case scenario. “I don’t think the average person is going to say, ‘Gosh, you know, that’s a really partisan agenda.’”

The interview was taped Saturday while Reid and his GOP counterpart Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky scrambled to their offices for a solution behind closed doors. Press staking out Capitol Hill reported little public activity from the leaders or their surrogates. If negotiations are successful, the lawmakers could introduce a bill for vote this afternoon.

But talk of a comprehensive budget deal is gone and would likely set up a series of smaller partisan roadblocks in the weeks and months to come. For example, if any hypothetical legislation managed to dodge tax increases for the middle class it would still not address the looming debt ceiling, which Treasury can avoid using accounting tricks for approximately two months.

A small deal may also not address the estate tax, another central point of the brinkmanship. Currently standing at 35 percent, Republicans want to leave that rate as-is after exempting the first $5 million in estate value. Meanwhile Democrats have called for a 45 percent tax after a $3.5 million exemption. Should negotiations fail, it would climb to 55 percent after a $1 million exemption after the New Year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec112012

ABC News EXCLUSIVE: President Obama Predicts GOP Will Cave on Taxes

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- As the clock ticks toward a tax hike on all Americans in 20 days, President Obama predicted Republicans would join Democrats to extend current rates for 98 percent of earners before the end of the year.

"I'm pretty confident that Republicans would not hold middle class taxes hostage to trying to protect tax cuts for high-income individuals," Obama said Tuesday in an exclusive interview with ABC News' Barbara Walters.

"I don't think they'll do that," he said of Republicans forcing tax-rate increases for families earning $250,000 a year or less.

The sign of optimism follows weeks of tense negotiations and public posturing to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff," an economically toxic package of $6 trillion in across-the-board tax hikes and $1.2 trillion in deep spending cuts that could begin in early 2013.

The White House and House Speaker John Boehner have exchanged new, competing deficit-reduction plans over the last 24 hours, sources say, but there is little indication of real progress toward a deal.

Obama has taken a hard line against extending current, lower tax rates on income over $250,000, which would affect the top 2 percent of income earners. Republicans have said those rates should be extended.

The standoff threatens higher rates for everyone unless a broad "cliff" deal is reached, or the middle-income rates are extended on their own.

"I remain optimistic," Obama told Walters. "I'd like to see a big package. But the most important thing we can do is make sure that middle class taxes do not go up on Jan. 1."

More of Barbara Walters' exclusive first joint, post-election interview with President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama airs Friday, Dec. 14, on 20/20 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC stations.

Obama met privately with Boehner at the White House on Sunday for their second face-to-face session on the fiscal negotiations, signaling potential progress toward an agreement. But neither side presented specific details about the outcome of the meeting.

"I think the tone was good," Obama told Walters. "I believe that both Speaker Boehner and myself and the other leaders want to see a deal happen. And the question now is can we get it done. The outlines, the framework of what a deal should look like are pretty straightforward."

While the administration has emphasized tax increases on the wealthy, Republicans insist they need specific commitments from the White House on cuts to entitlement program spending, which are the primary drivers of federal deficits and debt.

"It was a nice meeting, it was cordial," Boehner said Tuesday of his Sunday meeting. "But we're still waiting for the White House to identify what spending cuts the president is willing to make as part of the 'balanced approach' that he promised the American people."

Boehner and House Republicans have proposed curbing the rate of increase for Social Security payments and raising the eligibility age for Medicare, among other changes, which are non-starters for many Obama supporters.

In his interview with Walters, the president hinted at new flexibility on entitlement spending cuts, but only once Republicans concede on top tax rates.

"If the Republicans can move on that [taxes] then we are prepared to do some tough things on the spending side," Obama said. "Taxes are going to go up one way or another. And I think the key is that taxes go up on high-end individuals."

Raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 is "something that's been floated," Obama said, not dismissing the idea outright.

"When you look at the evidence, it's not clear that it actually saves a lot of money," he said. "But what I've said is let's look at every avenue, because what is true is we need to strengthen Social Security, we need to strengthen Medicare for future generations, the current path is not sustainable because we've got an aging population and health care costs are shooting up so quickly."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov282012

Poll: Among Cliff-Avoidance Options, Most Favor Targeting Wealthy 

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With the fiscal cliff drawing closer, raising taxes on wealthy Americans remains a popular option. The public divides closely on reducing federal income tax deductions, while two-thirds oppose another possibility, which is raising the age for Medicare eligibility.

Sixty percent in this ABC News/Washington Post poll support raising taxes on incomes more than $250,000 a year, long a popular option overall, but also a divisive one: While 73 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of independents are in favor, far fewer Republicans, 39 percent, agree.

Notably, “strong” support for raising taxes on the well-off is nearly double strong opposition, 42 vs. 23 percent. That’s because 57 percent of Democrats are strongly in favor, as are 42 percent of independents, vs. just 22 percent of Republicans.

While well short of a majority, support for a tax increase among four in 10 Republicans may provide some wiggle room to Republican leaders seeking compromise. Some, notably, have indicated a willingness to back off from the no-tax pledge many have taken.

Results of this poll echo the national exit poll in the presidential election, in which, given other options, 40 percent of Mitt Romney’s supporters favored raising taxes either on the wealthy (28 percent) or on all Americans (12 percent). That rose to 79 percent among Obama’s supporters -- 66 percent favoring a tax hike on the well-off, 13 percent on everyone.

DEDUCT – Americans divide on another item on the table, reducing income-tax deductions. In a question testing the concept generally -- that is, without suggesting that wealthier Americans would be harder hit -- 49 percent oppose limiting deductions, while 44 percent are in favor. On this option, strong opposition exceeds strong support, although intensity isn’t high on either side, 28 vs. 20 percent.

Partisan divisions on this question are less pronounced than they are on a tax hike for the better-off: Support ranges from 45 percent of Democrats and independents to 39 percent of Republicans; opposition, 48 to 51 percent across these groups. “Strong” opposition, likewise, is similar across partisan groups, 26 to 30 percent.

Openness to raising taxes on higher-income Americans suggests that views on limiting deductions might gain popularity to the extent that this approach, too, is targeted at the wealthy. Indeed, opposition to limiting deductions peaks at 58 percent among $100,000-plus income earners, vs. 47 percent among those with household incomes less than $50,000.

MEDICARE – Sixty-seven percent in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, oppose another suggestion, raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67.  And on this idea, strong opposition surpasses strong support by more than 3-1, 49 to 14 percent.

Opposition to increasing the Medicare eligibility age crosses partisan and ideological lines; it’s 68 percent or more among Democrats and Republicans and liberals and conservatives alike. Instead views relate to age; opposition peaks at 78 percent among adults age 50-64. It’s also higher among women and people with less than $100,000 incomes, compared with men and the better-off.

Views on raising the Medicare age are about the same now as they were in a similar question asked in 1997. However, support was 16 points higher than it is now -- 46 percent vs. 30 percent -- in a 2011 question that specified the change would be gradual, and was proposed “in order to reduce the national debt.” Similarly, support for raising taxes on the wealthy was higher, by 12 points, when it was posed in the context of debt reduction. These results suggest that what may matter in fiscal cliff talks is not only what’s cut or raised -- but how and why.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov272012

Obama, GOP Mount 'Fiscal Cliff' Campaign Blitz

JIM WATSON/AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama, Republican lawmakers and an army of independent advocacy groups are mounting an aggressive new public campaign to highlight the stakes in a deal to avoid an economically toxic package of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts that could take hold in 35 days.

The push has all the makings of a political campaign -- coming just three weeks after Election Day -- but with the nation's debt taking center stage instead of an individual candidate.

Obama is accelerating his outreach to key constituencies to shore up support for his "balanced" debt-reduction plan of tax increases on wealthier Americans coupled with cuts to government spending.

The president on Tuesday will host a private White House meeting with 15 small-business leaders, including the founder of an airplane crop-duster manufacturer from Texas, a music store owner from St. Louis and a local beer brewer from Wisconsin.

On Wednesday, Obama will hold an event to highlight the stories of Americans who wrote to the administration online about the importance of extending the Bush-era tax cuts for middle-income earners, and how going over the "cliff" and letting rates rise might adversely affect them.

The president then hits the "campaign trail" on Friday for a rally at a toy factory outside Philadelphia, taking his case directly to the people on the importance of averting the "fiscal cliff" for buoying consumer confidence and purchasing power during the holidays.

"Hearing from [voters], hearing their voices and hearing their priorities is essential to helping compel this process forward," White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Monday.

Pressure from the White House and public opinion, however, is unlikely to easily sway House Republicans, most of who have vowed to reject any tax increases and would almost certainly draw a primary challenge if they wavered.

"The target of the president's rallies should be the congressional Democrats who want to raise tax rates on small businesses rather than cut spending," House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement.

Obama insists that income tax rates should rise on individuals earning more than $200,000 a year and families making more than $250,000, or the top 2 percent of Americans.  Republicans remain staunchly opposed to increasing rates.

Boehner and other party leaders have expressed willingness to raise more revenue, coupled with overhauling entitlement programs, but they say it should be done by closing tax loopholes and capping deductions while decreasing net tax rates themselves.

Boehner plans to meet with former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles and members of the "Fix the Debt" coalition on Wednesday, his office said.  The Ohio congressman will also meet with an array of business leaders and CEOs.

Many House Republicans also plan to take their case against a tax rate increase on the road, planning public events in their home states and visits to small businesses, according to a Boehner spokesman.

Meanwhile, an army of independent interest groups have also begun adding their voices to the debate, running TV and radio ads, posting billboards and gathering signatures in online petition campaigns.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov272012

Violating Norquist's No-Tax Pledge Could Hurt GOP in 2014

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The most talked about name in the opening weeks of the fiscal cliff negotiations isn't President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner or Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  It's Grover Norquist.

Norquist is not a publicly elected official or even a government appointee.  The 56-year-old conservative leader is the founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform and promoter of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge -- better known as the Norquist Pledge.

Americans for Tax Reform opposes tax increases, and the Norquist Pledge calls on members of Congress to do just that.  Taken at face value, this pledge poses a big roadblock to any compromise with Democrats in the ongoing fiscal cliff negotiations, even though several prominent Republican leaders have recently signaled an openness to put everything on the table in negotiations, which would seem to violate the pledge.

If the goal at the end of these negotiations is compromise, could there be political risk in Republicans' violating the pledge?  

Actually, yes. Violating the pledge all but ensures a primary challenge in two years from the Republican right.

"A defection on taxes almost guarantees it -- the End," said ABC News' political director Amy Walter.

"It's all about the GOP base," said Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.  "Most of the Republican House members and a large number of the party's senators are very safe in a general election.  No Democrat can beat them.  The only place they can lose is in the low-turnout party primary, which is usually dominated by strong conservatives for whom the word 'tax' is almost an obscenity."

It's these voters who make up the GOP base who will likely be the most involved in primary contests -- on the ground, in fundraising and, of course, at the voting booths.

"These activist voters listen to Norquist and his organization, and they have the money to get the message out to voters in TV ads and mailings," Sabato said.  "A Republican member tagged with supported tax increases is awarded the political kiss of death."

Two prominent GOP senators up for re-election in deep-red states in 2014 have already expressed a willingness to buck the Norquist Pledge: Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

"I agree with Grover -- we shouldn't raise rates -- but I think Grover is wrong when it comes to we can't cap deductions and buy down debt," Graham said on ABC's This Week.

"I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge," Chambliss said in an interview with WMAZ-TV in Macon, Ga.  "If we do it his way, then we'll continue in debt, and I just have a disagreement with him about that."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov262012

White House Warns Tax Hike Will Curb Consumer Spending

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- An Obama administration report out Monday says the typical American household will pay $2,200 in additional taxes next year if the so called Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class are allowed to expire.

The findings from the President’s Council of Economic Advisers also states that the net result would be a slowdown in consumer spending by $200 billion in 2013, stunting the economic recovery by 1.4 percent.  A decline of $200 billion in consumer spending is roughly equivalent to four times the amount spent by Black Friday shoppers last year, the report said, or the entire sum of domestic auto sales.

The White House’s findings are a clear grab for leverage in the impending “fiscal cliff” talks on Capitol Hill, in which the previous administration’s cuts have been a negotiating point.  But it also largely echoes similar research from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office out earlier this month.  Economists warn the automatic spending cuts and tax increases that would be triggered if Congress fails to pass a budget by the end of the year would plunge the country back into recession.

President Obama and congressional Democrats have taken the position of continuing the cuts for households making under $250,000 a year, while allowing those same breaks to expire for higher income earners.  The Republican caucus has largely fought to keep those cuts in place across the board, but since this weekend, several key members of the GOP signaled they were open to breaking a long-standing pledge not to raise taxes.

“The only pledge we should be making to each other is to avoid becoming Greece.  And Republicans should put revenue on the table,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, S.C.-R, said on ABC’s This Week Sunday.

If negotiations are successful, the report claims the economy could still see an immediate negative impact: Uncertainty over possible future tax hikes on the middle class could lead to a slowdown in holiday shopping, stunting the economic recovery.

The White House report hits as millions of Americans turn to “Cyber Monday” for online holiday shopping deals, and coincidentally as Congress returns to session from its Thanksgiving break.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov262012

GOP Starting to Rebel Against No-Tax-Hikes Pledge

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- With the fiscal cliff looming for the United States, some Republican members of Congress said on Sunday that they are ready to break a long-standing pledge not to raise taxes.

"The only pledge we should be making to each other is to avoid becoming Greece.  And Republicans should put revenue on the table," South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said on ABC's This Week.

Graham's comments followed those by another Republican senator, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, who said last week that he'll no longer abide by the pledge.

"I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge," he said in a local interview.

He got support on Sunday from House member Peter King, another Republican from New York.

"I agree entirely with Saxby Chambliss -- a pledge he signed 20 years ago, 18 years ago is for that Congress," King said on NBC's Meet the Press.  He added, "The world is changed and the economic situation is different."

This growing chorus is about the pledge that Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist has gotten hundreds of Republicans to sign.  But in an interview with ABC News, Norquist says it has just a few deserters.

"The people who have made a commitment to their constituents are largely keeping it," he said.  "The fact is there is more support for both protecting the rates, you saw the Republican leader in the House say rates are non-negotiable, and he also talked about revenue coming from growth."

President Obama has said rates will go up for the wealthy.  But there could be some political cover for Republicans if the country actually goes over the cliff.  All the Bush-era tax cuts would expire, including those for the wealthy.  Congress could then vote to actually reduce taxes for everyone expect the rich.  Therefore, they wouldn't technically raise taxes and violate Norquist's pledge.

But Norquist said he doesn't think the public would buy those political moves, and he also doesn't think the country will actually go over the cliff.

"I think we'll continue the tax cuts.  Not raise taxes $500 billion.  Obama made the correct decision (by extending the Bush tax cuts) two years ago," Norquist told ABC News.

Leading Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin also said he believes a deal is possible now that the Thanksgiving holiday break is over.

"We can solve this problem," he said on This Week, adding, "There's no excuse.  We're back in town."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio