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Grover Norquist in NH to sign up GOP hopefuls for anti-tax pledge

New Hampshire Union Leader

July 12. 2017 3:13PM
Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford, a candidate for the 1st Congressional District. 

MANCHESTER — Three Republican candidates for Congress, and a fourth considering a run, signed a pledge Wednesday to oppose and vote against any effort to increase taxes.

As the four stood with Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, their remarks circled back to a touchstone for fiscal conservatives, the motto from the late former Gov. Mel Thomson: “Low taxes are the result of low spending.”

The quote hangs on the wall next to the door of the Americans for Prosperity-NH office, where the four signed the ATR’s “taxpayer protection pledge.”

Former state Rep. Jack Flanagan, a Brookline Republican running for the 2nd Congressional District, cited the Thomson slogan as he spoke of the need for fiscal austerity.

Eddie Edwards and Sen. Andy Sanborn, two candidates for the 1st Congressional District, had previously taken this pledge. State Rep. Steve Negron, R-Nashua, who is considering a run for the 2nd District, also signed the pledge.

Norquist said Republicans, who have majority control in Congress, will achieve some meaningful tax reform this term, and his group’s pledge is more than just a piece of paper. When government departments and agencies know an elected leader has taken such a commitment, they are less likely to propose budget increases and spending requests, he said.

“The pledge is an increasingly important tool for candidates, and more importantly for elected officials,” Norquist said. “It’s not just a campaign document, but a governing document.”

Sanborn, who has signed the pledge every term he’s served in the Senate, said he was proud to work for business tax relief and a balanced state budget this year.

Edwards, a consultant and former chief of law enforcement for the state Liquor Commission, said sound fiscal management is like bringing integrity back to politics.

“They expect a government that will live within their means, just like they do,” he said. “What you earn you ought to be able to keep in your pocket.”

As a small businessman, Negron said he understands the importance of providing tax rate and regulatory relief for companies. He said it helps businesses hire people and grow.

“People think that just because owners make profits that all of a sudden we’re going to go out and buy yachts,” he said. “Really, money, and profits is plowing it back into the company.”

Norquist said he is confident that Capitol Hill will buckle down on tax reform after the health care debate. President Donald Trump has promised to deliver on the biggest tax cuts in U.S. history. A framework of his proposal released in April calls for reducing the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent. The plan includes simplifying the tax code, doubling the standard deduction so a married couple will not pay taxes on the first $24,000 of income, and repealing the alternative minimum tax.

Lowering the corporate tax rate will help U.S. businesses beat back a global tax disadvantage, according to Norquist. He says tax reform is overdue.

“The last time we did tax reform was 1986. I think ‘Walk Like an Egyptian’ was the No. 1 hit,” he said of the song by The Bangles. “It’s been a while since we revisited the tax code.”