Commentary by Chuck Muth: The war against the Tax Pledge

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Nothing strikes fear into the political left and mushy GOP moderates the way the 25-year-old Taxpayer Protection Pledge does. And the fact that the pledge has been signed by enough House Republicans to block any "compromise" or "grand bargain" on the debt ceiling that includes raising taxes has them coming unglued.

First, the tax pledge isn't a philosophy, as some would have you think. It's a means to an end; that end being small, strictly limited government. As such, the pledge isn't even so much about taxes as spending -- or, rather, an effective means of limiting spending, which in turn limits government.

We have an out-of-control federal government that is trillions of dollars in debt today, not because taxes are too low, but because spending is too high. And it is nothing short of immoral to pass this crushing debt on to future generations of Americans.

Secondly, former Nevada state Sen. Bill Raggio loves to say that "compromise" isn't a four-letter word. Then again, neither is "no." And there's absolutely nothing wrong with saying no when saying no is the correct thing to say - like telling a spoiled kid he can't have ice cream before dinner.

There's also nothing wrong with compromise if one doesn't compromise on principle and the compromise is a fair win-win for both sides. Alas, compromise in the minds of Democrats almost always means they get the gold mine and Republicans get the shaft.

Take, for example, the 2011 Nevada budget compromise (please!). Many GOP legislators voted for a $600 million tax hike while the Democrats gave up ... well, virtually nothing of real substance. End of prevailing wage? Nope. Construction lawsuit abuse reform? Nope. School vouchers? Nope. End of collective bargaining for local government employees? Nope. Strict cap on future spending? Nope.

Nada. Zip. Zilch.

Conservatives have learned, the hard way, that in these "grand compromises" the tax hikes are always implemented with a vengeance while the serious spending cuts and government reforms never seem to fully materialize.

And maybe, just maybe, Republicans in the House, and a few in the Nevada Legislature, have finally come to realize that when it comes to spending, it's never enough for the left; that no matter how far conservatives might compromise on taxes, the left will always come back for more.

Our problem today, yesterday and tomorrow is spending, not taxes. As such, the solution isn't to raise taxes; not even by one thin dime. The solution is to cut spending. Dramatically. This is no time to strike a deal whereby the spoiled child is allowed to have his ice cream before dinner on the promise that maybe he'll eat his peas later.

It's time - as Nancy Reagan so eloquently put it - to just say no.

• Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach and publisher of He may be reached at


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