Chandler regrets signing Norquist's tax pledge; says tax cuts crucial for workers, not rich

12/21/2011 07:53 AM

Seven of Kentucky’s eight members of the congressional delegation signed the Americans for Tax Reform “no tax” pledge that they have found they now can’t get out of.

U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler of Versailles, the only Democrat in that group to sign, now says signing that pledge that is monitored by Grover Norquist was one of the biggest mistakes of his congressional career.

“I’m sorry I did that, too,” Chandler said just before the 6:00 of the interview video. “I thought I was doing it for one session. And he made a determination that you do it forever. And I don’t think anybody ought to make a pledge like that forever.”

Chandler’s fellow Kentuckian, Republican Congressman and U.S. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers expressed a similar view on Pure Politics last month.

The issue is sure to come up next year, as Congress must take up whether to extend the Bush-era tax cuts and as Chandler is up for re-election again. Norquist’s group spent money on ads against Chandler in 2010.

Chandler said Republicans want to have it both ways — that some of them have been reluctant to extend the payroll tax cuts because it directly funds Social Security. At the same time, Republicans have been nearly unified in resisting additional taxes on the wealthiest Americans as Democrats have proposed.

“What the Republicans really want to do is they just want to starve government of money, I think,” Chandler said (4:00 mark). “The record will show that they want to get money in the hands of the wealthy people and they think when they get the money it will trickle down to the rest of us.”

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He has covered politics for more than 10 years, including 7 years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Follow Ryan on Twitter @cn2Alessi. Ryan can be reached at 502-792-1135 or


  • Bruce Layne wrote on December 21, 2011 10:26 AM :

    Of course Ben Chandler and Hal Rogers regret signing ATR’s no new tax pledge. It’s designed to keep them from continuing to increase the size of an already bloated runaway federal government, and these guys are all about big government. They want to sign the pledge, get the votes, and then back out of the pledge and raise our taxes. What’s that kind of person called? Either liar or politician. The words are now almost synonymous.

  • bob wrote on December 22, 2011 10:39 AM :

    For Ben Chandler to suggest (@ the 1:59) mark he is one of us is laughable.

    Ben Chandler, Mitch McConnell, Hal Rogers and many others that need not be named have helped create a welfare State. Kentucky.

    Kentucky ranks as one of the biggest benefactors’ of federal dollars in the Country.

    The Kentucky King Pins;

    Senator Mitch McConnell, tea party favorite Sen. Rand Paul and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers. While Rogers was once dubbed the “Prince of Pork” and McConnell has hauled so much pork he’s at risk for trichinosis, they are now converts to Sen. Paul’s big anti-government message. McConnell says Obama’s new budget is “unserious” and “irresponsible” because it merely cuts projected deficits by $1.1 trillion. “The people who voted for a new direction in November have a five-word response,” McConnell said, “We don’t have the money.”

    He’s right! and he’s a big part of the reason “We don’t have the money”.

    So now he’s ready to defund Kentucky. Cut it off the federal dole. Why? Because he’s a career politician who goes with the flow to stay in office. He recognizes by Sen. Paul’s (upset) win that he has to have a different message in order to retain his hopes of once again being what he covets most, GOP Leader.
    But, here’s a problem they face.

    Kentucky is a welfare state and Mitch McConnell, Hal Rogers and Ben Chandler helped make it a welfare state. The conservative Tax Foundation says the Bluegrass State received $1.51 back from Washington for every dollar it paid in federal taxes in 2005 (the most recent data I could find on the Tax Foundation’s website.) We need to listen to the people of Kentucky. They don’t want any more federal spending in their state—and they certainly must be appalled by the notion that they’re a bunch of welfare queens, living off the taxes paid by other States.

    It seems Kentuckians are theoretical conservatives but operational liberals. The same people who vote for politicians who pledge to slash government spending are appalled when the politicians they elect actually slash government spending.

    A big part of Kentucky’s Medicaid bill is paid by Washington and more than one in five Kentuckians receives a monthly check from the Social Security System, totaling $8.5 billion a year. Washington also spends over $2 billion a year on flood insurance for Kentuckians, $667 million in crop insurance, and $877 million in mortgage insurance. Plus the Bluegrass State is home to federal facilities ranging from Ft. Knox to the Department of Energy’s Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Paducah etc.

    Kentuckians are addicted to federal spending. They (our KY Delegation) created and know this, and their political ploy will be more smoke and mirrors.

    Has anyone here seen the commercial with the drug addict? Same applies here in Kentucky and our congressman; with the exception of Sen. Paul they are part of the dealer network.

    Mitch, Hal and Ben play the political game very well. In fact, they are masters at it. It will be especially interesting to see how Mitch McConnell fares going into 2014. He’ll have lots of ‘cash’, lots of special interest support, plus he has decades of experience in “how to play the game”. Align with the Tea Party now!

    I like Sen. Paul’s message; Government is too big. I hope he can stay on message and not get too close to these career politicians.

  • Mike Mansfield wrote on December 22, 2011 04:12 PM :

    No, Bruce. It may have been that way when it started; but now it simply is trying to keep the wealthy from paying a reasonable amount to the upkeep of the government while our schools, police, fire departments, bridges, roads, etc., etc., etc. go to Hell.

    I assume you’re not part of the 1% of totally greedy folk who don’t pay taxes, so what’s your real beef? You don’t like paved roads? You want to pay tolls to go across rivers? What?

  • Dee W wrote on December 23, 2011 02:49 AM :

    “I assume you’re not part of the 1% of totally greedy folk who don’t pay taxes”

    The top 1% earn 19% of the income and pay about 40% of the federal income taxes, more than double their share. The top 10% pay 68% of federal income taxes. The bottom 50% pay 3% of the tax burden, top 50% 97% of the tax burden. The suggestion that the rich don’t pay “their fair share” is simply not accurate – they pay far more than their share of taxes as compared to their share of income, and the lower income earners far less in income taxes than their share of income. Their overall proportion of the tax burden has continued to increase, and did by design under the Bush tax cuts. If all of the Bush tax cuts were repealed and we returned to the rates prior to them being enacted, the burden on the rich would decline and the burden on lower income earners would increase.

  • Rick Hicks wrote on December 23, 2011 05:54 AM :

    Hey Mike, why don’t you tell me why the government stealing more money from anybody else is going to make me feel better? Why don’t you tell me why the most inept sector of society (the govt) should have even MORE money to use to make resource allocation decisions. What is “fair”? What is the percentage of someone’s earnings that you would deem “fair” so that you would shut the Hell up about wanting more of it? I’ll bet you have never even thought of that have you? You just parrot so class warfare crap that somebody spoon feeds into your head.

  • Deb wrote on December 23, 2011 08:33 AM :

    Haha…I love this comment: “The record will show that they want to get money in the hands of the wealthy people and they think when they get the money it will trickle down to the rest of us.”

    What is Chandler’s net worth? Does he have any trickle down to him? Typical career politician, time to get this bozo out of office.

  • Cumberland Gap wrote on December 23, 2011 08:37 AM :

    Bruce, if you’re from Lexington area I didn’t hear you gripe about big government when the Lexington Airport was expanded or now that the Civic Center needs renovation. Or when the Obama stimulus money was spent in Central Ky. It seems like you conservatives only cry “big government” when someone else gets whats due to them for the taxes they pay. In the Bible, that’s called being selfish and greedy.

    Norquist pledge is silly because it actually prohibits the process of dropping two taxes and starting a new tax when the overall effect is less taxes. The pledge is simply against any new tax period. That’s ignorant.

  • bob wrote on December 23, 2011 09:29 AM :

    I may be wrong, but, my opinion is the tea party grew out of recognition that the government is too big, in-efficient and partisan etc… Correct me if I’m wrong Bruce.

    No, I’m not a tea party advocate. I do agree with points made by the tea party, but not all. I agree with some Conservative ideas as well as some Liberal ideas, but not all. What I don’t agree with is the inability of our representatives to do their job. That job is to listen to their constituents and follow the constitution as set forth by our founding fathers. They simply do not do this any longer. They are over-paid, reap too many benefits (pensions, inside information, etc.) and most if not all are in it for themselves. One other point I feel worth noting is there are too many Lawyers/Politicians and we need term limits set for all representatives. Most of our representatives fall into the 1% and if they’re not already in that 1% they will be if they’re able to stay in office long enough. There’s something wrong with this. I’m sure most would agree.

    On the point that Mike makes, I agree. The 1% are greedy and should pay more taxes. We all need to pay a fair tax for road improvement, services etc, etc, etc. and trickle-down economics simply doesn’t work, at least not in the way the Republicans say it will. Why? greed. It seems their message is everyone has a fair shot at being wealthy in this country. That’s simply hog wash. There are 320+ million people in this country.

    The cores of the Republican and Democratic parties have lost touch with the American people. Different ideologies and peoples are what make our Country strong, but the division created by both parties today is attributable to special interest and not the will of the American People.

    We need true public servants and those servants should all be willing to accept term limits. After their ‘service’ is over, go back to into society and work. As with ATR, an organization dedicated to starting a drive to have our representatives sign a pledge to support term limits could work. This could help reshape a Government that is working for us and get more people involved with the political process.

What do you have to say?


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