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Norquist: GOP won't break tax pledge

Grover Norquist expressed confidence Monday that Republican lawmakers would not break a pledge not to raise taxes. 

Norquist said no one who has taken the Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) tax pledge has broken it. He also said some lawmakers who have talked of supporting raising taxes have said they would only do so if Democrats agreed to enormous entitlement reforms Norquist suggested they are unlikely to concede. 

"No pledge taker has voted for a tax increase," he said on CNN's "Starting Point. "Even [Sen.] Lindsey Graham [R-S.C.] would support higher taxes 'if.' ... He lists this incredible list of reforms and entitlements that the Democrats would never give."

The ATR Taxpayer Protection Pledge has come under intense scrutiny over the last week as the White House and congressional leaders discuss a deficit-reduction deal meant to prevent tax hikes and spending cuts due at the end of the year that are known as the "fiscal cliff."

President Obama is demanding that Republicans agree to raise taxes on the wealthy in exchange for spending cuts and entitlement reforms, and several Republicans have suggested a willingness to move on taxes. 

Norquist, however, insisted Monday that Graham and Sens. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Bob Corker (Tenn.) as well as Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) have not changed their positions on the tax pledge. He also warned his organization would "highlight" any Republican lawmaker who breaks the pledge.

Norquist did take issue with King, who said "the world has changed" since he signed the ATR pledge.

“A pledge you signed 20 years ago, 18 years ago, is for that Congress," King told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday. "For instance, if I were in Congress in 1941, I would have supported a declaration of war against Japan. I’m not going to attack Japan today.”

Norquist called that an "odd position" to justify breaking a public oath.

"Peter King knows full well that the pledge he signed and others have, it's for while you're in Congress, it's not for a two-year period," Norquist said on CNN. "It's explained to everyone when they sign, it's in writing that it's a commitment while you're in the House or while you're in the Senate. If you run for a different office, you sign it again."

Norquist maintained that his organization's Taxpayer Protection Pledge, signed by the majority of Republican lawmakers currently in office and hosted on ATR's website, is a pledge to constituents, not to ATR.

He said the American people would not require a press release to "figure out" their representative raised taxes.

ATR represents the interests of multiple taxpayer groups. The pledge commits lawmakers to "oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses … and oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates."

This story was updated at 9:15 a.m.

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