A majority of Senate Republicans appeared to break Tuesday with two decades of GOP orthodoxy against higher taxes, voting to advance a plan to abruptly cancel billions of dollars in annual tax credits for ethanol blenders.
The measure, offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), fell short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster threat. But it had the support of 34 of 47 Republicans
, most of whom have signed an anti-tax pledge that specifically prohibits raising taxes by any means but economic growth.
Coburn has argued forcefully that Republicans must abandon that pledge if they are serious about tackling the spiraling national debt. Though the Senate turned back his measure, he said the vote nonetheless marks the beginning of the end of GOP tolerance for wasteful giveaways through the tax code.
“You’ve got 34 Republicans that say they’re willing to end this, regardless of what Grover says,” Coburn said, referring to pledge creator Grover G. Norquist
, the founder of Americans for Tax Reform. “That’s 34 Republicans that say this is more important than a signed pledge to ATR.”
The vote was hardly a slam dunk for Coburn’s crusade against the dozens of tax credits and deductions that he derides as government spending by another name. Several senators who voted against the ethanol credit, which is widely condemned by Republicans as bad economic policy, said they would not necessarily vote to end other types of tax breaks.