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The growing desperation of the don't-raise-taxes-on-the-rich crowd

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Chris Butler / The Idaho Statesman / AP / File

(Read caption) Grover G. Norquist President of Americans for Tax Reform, speaks at an anti-tax rally on the steps of the Idaho Statehouse, Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011, in Boise, Idaho. He and his followers say that every tax increase should be accompanied by a tax cut.

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The much-vaunted Republican pledge not to raise any taxes is crumbling. Today 34 Senate Republicans voted to end the special tax breaks for ethanol.

According to no-tax-increase purists like Grover Norquist, this is tantamount to a tax increase.

The truth is, Republicans are divided between those who want to bring down the budget deficit and those who want to shrink government. Ending a special tax subsidy helps reduce the deficit but doesn’t necessarily shrink government. That’s why Norquist and his followers have insisted any such tax increase – including even the closing of tax loopholes – be directly linked to a corresponding tax cut.

In order to save face on today’s vote, Norquist says renegade Republicans will still be considered to have adhered to the pledge if they vote in favor of an amendment offered by Senator Jim DeMint to eliminate the estate tax. Talk about grasping at straws. DeMint’s amendment isn’t even up for a vote.

In short, the no-tax pledge is evaporating in the fresh air of reality.

What are anti-tax Republicans to do now?

For one, continue to distort the arguments of those who believe corporations and the rich should pay more taxes.

For example, in the lead op-ed piece in today’s Wall Street Journal, Cato Institute fellow Alan Reynolds claims a higher marginal tax on the super rich will bring in less revenue.

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