Remember how Grover Norquist last night admitted that his anti-tax pledge has a massive loophole, in which allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire (which is the basis for the revenue component of any bipartisan deficit agreement) does not count as a tax hike? Now he's in damage control mode:
ATR opposes all tax increases on the American people. Any failure to extend or make permanent the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, in whole or in part, would clearly increase taxes on the American people. In addition, the failure to extend the AMT patch would increase taxes. The outlines of the plans are deliberately hazy, but it appears that both Obama’s Simpson-Bowles commission proposal and the Gang-of-Six proposal dramatically increase taxes on the American people.
It is a violation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to trade temporary tax reductions for permanent tax hikes.
The present conversations in Washington should focus totally and exclusively on reducing government overspending. President Barack Obama has increased the annual federal budget by almost $1 trillion dollars. ATR has not altered either its policy positions or opposition to all tax increases whatsoever in any debt negotiations.
Tax reform that reduces tax rates and broadens the tax base on a revenue neutral basis should be done separately and not in a rush under duress from parties hostile to the interests of taxpayers.
Nothing here actually contradicts Norquist's previous statement. He opposes any deal that would allow the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, but the Pledge does not forbid it. The Pledge just turns out to be very badly designed, failing to bind its signers to extend expiring tax cuts. The statement above mentions that the Pledge forbids trading tax cuts for permanent hikes, but that doesn't necessarily apply to the Gang of Six deal.
Does this matter? Well, I suppose if there are any Republicans who want to cut a Grand Bargain but worry about breaking their Pledge, they have an out.