After what appeared, even to this author, to be the nail in the coffin of the speakership of John Boehner, an angel came to his defense offering the Speaker a much-needed lifeline. The power behind the well-known “Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” Grover Norquist, that shaped much of the 2012 congressional elections, pulled Boehner back from the ledge by stating that voting not to increase taxes on those making less than a million dollars did not violate the pledge to never vote to increase taxes.

President of Americans for Tax Reform, Grover Norquist, has arguably become one of the most powerful men in Washington. Norquist’s infamous “pledge” signed by virtually every member of the House of Representatives, held the signees in a difficult position when it became obvious that Speaker Boehner was about to bring to the floor a vote on allowing the Bush tax breaks to expire for Americans earning more than one million dollars annually.

The dilemma facing GOP House members suddenly evaporated when Wednesday Norquist did what those on the left said he would never do, declaring that extending current tax rates for some but not for others was not the same as raising taxes.

The Norquist move set the stage for passage of the Boehner “plan B” proposal. Removing the threat of action for violating the pledge opened the door for widespread adoption of the Boehner plan. The House spent Thursday debating a bill addressing “sequestration” of Defense spending, which passed narrowly 215-209.

Virtually everyone who follows politics expected Norquist to personally dismiss any member of the GOP who would dare allow anyone’s rates to rise; his Wednesday statement allowed members of the GOP caucus to breathe a sigh of relief. Signers of the pledge will now be able to say that, according to Mr. Norquist, voting to allow the tax rates to rise, while not their preferred choice, was not a violation of the pledge.

Grover Norquist

Norquist’s blessing of Boehner’s “Plan B” opened the way to passage creating a major issue for the Democratic Senate and the White House.

A meeting of the GOP caucus at 7:35pm today was expected to be followed by a late-night vote; however shortly after 8:00pm the vote was delayed because Norquist’s statement may not have convinced enough GOP members for passage of Boehner’s plan. If the world doesn’t come to an end tomorrow the Speaker should have the needed votes.

Though the White House has promised a veto should the measure clear the Senate, that’s almost impossible to imagine. What passage will do is give the Speaker the bargaining chits he needs; two branches of government are controlled by the Democrats, the Senate and the Executive, and the president will have to face the fact that inaction in the face of ratified plan in the House will send the nation off the fiscal cliff.

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