Several Republicans who have tried to break gridlock on the energy debate and signed on to an $84 billion energy package have broken their anti-tax "pledge," according to a powerful watchdog group.
Americans for Tax Reform, led by anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, say that Republicans who have signed on to the Senate "Gang of 10" plan _ which has grown to 20 sponsors _ are violating their no tax increase pledges because the legislation would increase taxes on oil companies.
"On net, this 'compromise' is a violation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge because it increases net income taxes" on oil companies, the group said in a statement released this evening.
The Republicans listed by Americans for Tax Reform include Sens. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga), Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Bob Corker (R-Tenn), Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), Graham (R-S.C.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga), John Sununu (R-N.H.), and John Thune (R-S.D.), along with Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska.
These tax pledges are often signed by Republicans during campaigns to beef up their fiscal conservative credentials, but it's not clear if violating the pledge would have any political repercussions for the senators who have backed the energy compromise. In the scheme of the things, this isn't the most egregious of violations of the no tax increase pledges _ it would only roll back certain tax breaks for oil companies that were put into place three years ago.
But Americans for Tax Reform is sure to give the Republicans some trouble for their bipartisan cooperation.