Your morning jolt: Why Rob Woodall refused to sign a pledge not to increase taxes

Pay attention to this Republican runoff in the 7th District race to replace U.S. Rep. John Linder of Duluth. We’ve got something approaching an actual discussion of issues.

On Monday, Washington-based Americans for Tax Reform declared front-runner Rob Woodall – Linder’s former chief of staff – to be “outside the Republican mainstream” because he refused to sign ATR’s pledge not to increase taxes.


Jody Hice, who finished second on July 20, has signed. So did Linder, who Woodall now seeks to replace, said Grover Norquist, president of ATR.

“Why on earth in these times is Woodall talking about hiking taxes?” baited Norquist. “Instead, he should be taking tax hikes off the table.”

Read Norquist’s entire statement here.

Candidates are usually eager to sign such pledges – especially if they’re running in a Republican primary. Once they’re in office, the promise becomes less attractive. One can’t govern by slogans, Gov. Sonny Perdue famously told his fellow Republicans.

Woodall’s take on the anti-tax pledge is somewhat different.

He portrays Norquist’s rules as part of the Washington tax problem – not the solution. Woodall, the co-author of the John Linder/Neal Boortz book on the Fair Tax, says the ATR approach jeopardizes any major overhaul of the U.S. system of taxation.

Here is Woodall’s response to the ATR attack:

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform

ATR sponsors the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to encourage lawmakers to oppose tax rates increases, but a second element of the Pledge requires lawmakers to oppose the elimination of special interest tax deductions and credits unless a new deduction, credit, or tax reduction is created as a replacement.

“By maintaining a tit-for-tat approach to tax policy, not only is fundamental tax reform and a much-needed overhaul of the tax code hindered but the ability to eliminate destructive and wasteful tax policy is also hindered.”

Woodall provided a lengthy example that focused on a $6,500 golf cart tax credit passed in 2009:

“Anyone who purchased a ‘road ready’ golf cart in 2009 could receive a $6,500 check from the federal government, and thousands took advantage of the offer. This was a dumb tax credit, and America borrowed the dollars from China and Japan to pay for it.

“The ATR pledge, however, would prevent Democrats and Republicans from coming together to agree to kill this bad tax credit unless they also came together to agree on a new way to hand out that $6,500 through tax code manipulation to taxpayers.

“The priority of 7th District voters is to kill that bad tax credit and stop the borrowing from China and Japan. Voters here are tired of everything being thrown into the same giant piece of legislation.

“If we want to eliminate wasteful credits and deductions, we should do that in one bill. If we want to create new credits and deductions, we should do that in a separate bill.”

Over the weekend, the Atlanta Tea Party announced its endorsement of Hice. It had previously picked state Rep. Clay Cox of Lilburn, who finished third.

U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-Roswell) on Monday announced his entry into the runoff – on the side of Woodall. This is the second time Price has put his prestige on the line in a GOP primary. Earlier this spring, he switched his support in the Republican race for governor from Nathan Deal to fellow north Fulton resident Karen Handel.


The Georgia chapter of the AARP is sending word that the state Public Service Commission today will approve a series of public hearings around the state on Georgia Power’s request for a $1 billion rate hike that would force an average $10 monthly increase for customers. The AARP had been pushing for the hearings.

My AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin says the Republican runoff candidates for governor revealed some differences this morning at a forum hosted by the Metro Atlanta Chamber.

Former congressman Nathan Deal said that, if elected, he would decline the federal “Race to the Top” money for education that Gov. Sonny Perdue has so hotly pursued.

Said Deal:

“Race to the Top has standardardized curriculum,” Deal said. “I do not agree with anything that has strings attached.”

“I would say it’s probably not worth the money we’re going to receive,” Deal said. “In the overall scheme of things it’s not that much money. It sounds big but when you distribute it across every level of the education system, it’s not that big.”

But former secretary of state Karen Handel said she would accept the cash, if the state wins it:

“As long as we’re paying taxes to the federal government I think I have a responsibility to make sure Georgia gets its fair share,” she said. “We should not turn our nose up at it.”

She said she would want to be sure “the strings aren’t too much to accept,” but later said the strings she is concerned about involve what happens when the money runs out.

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66 comments Add your comment

Raw Deal Real Steal

August 3rd, 2010
9:48 am

Deal voted for “No Child Left Behind”, but now he doesn’t like strings. Just like John Kerry, Deal was for it before he was against it. But 1 thing for sure he is all for NO BID AGREEMENTS.

Outside the Beltway

August 3rd, 2010
9:59 am

Karen wants “our fair share” from the federal government. Deal keeps the fed from attaching their strings to our educational system. Who sounds like the “Washington insider” now?

No Bid Deal

August 3rd, 2010
10:03 am

Deal is showing his age, can’t remember he voted for “No Child Left Behind”..


August 3rd, 2010
10:03 am

I don’t live in the 7th, so I have no dog in this race. However, I like candidates who refuse to sign these types of oaths and pledges.

Situations change. We can’t predict the future. Don’t pledge to never do this or that. Just state your intentions and try to stay true to your words.

No Bid Deal

August 3rd, 2010
10:07 am

Deal’s record Adding $8 trillion in debt during his 18 years in Washington is not conservative. He sure liked the strings on the $300,000.00 no bid agreement from the State of Georgia.


August 3rd, 2010
10:11 am

How sad Woodall’s explanation is considered “lengthy.” Too many voters can’t handle more than one sentence of ATR style slogans. Then they wonder why government sucks.

Deal has been in Washington too long. $3.4 billion is chump change to him.


August 3rd, 2010
10:11 am

“The fundamental question is: does the federal government have too much money, or not enough. Rob Woodall believes it doesn’t have enough, I think Georgians believe the government has enough money and needs to start living within its means,” said ATR President Grover Norquist

What I think Woodall is missing isn’t so much about incoming revenue (he mentions borrowing from China and Japan to pay for golf cart credits…) but the fact that Washington DC needs to stop spending like a bunch of drunken sailors. Why is Woodall afraid to pass a bill that strips out stupid tax credits while lowering other taxes? We don’t have to borrow money from other countries; we could instead just STOP THE SPENDING.

Woodall won’t sign a no tax increases pledge, Woodall won’t say no to earmarks… Looks like my decision is getting easier.

Tom Ga Hunter

August 3rd, 2010
10:49 am

I agree with Woodall that we have a bunch of stupid tax credits, the state of Georgia has the same problem.. If Woodall would sign the ne earmark pledge and lived in my district, I’d vote for him over the bible thumper.

Danny O

August 3rd, 2010
10:52 am

The second item should say Public Service Commission, not Committee. Georgia Power is asking for a stiff increase on our bills as well as an increase in their guaranteed rate of profit, which is currently 11.25%. If power is more expensive then that’s one thing. But it’s pretty audacious to ask for a higher surefire profit when businesses are struggling to stay open and families are barely able to pay bills.

One Karen Left Behind

August 3rd, 2010
10:54 am

Karen Handel if she had a vote, she would have absolutely voted for No Child Left Behind. The name “No Child Left Behind” is a catchy one liner, and we know she loves catchy one liners and “making sure the next 17 year old does not get left behind.” Who cares about the policy?

We need to fix our educational system so we don’t have more slow people like Karen Handel convincing well educated people to act like slandering idiots. Scratch that. Karen is the state of Maryland’s fault.

Let’s educate and develop our next generation of leaders in Georgia so we do not have to rely on Maryland’s leftovers to rule over our state.

Bill Orvis White

August 3rd, 2010
10:54 am

This Woodall fella means well, but is dead wrong not to sign such a common sense pledge– vote Hice and vote Hice often. Although if Jody loses this runoff, I will still send a check to Mr. Woodall in the general and I do hope all of you common sense folk in GA-7 do the same. Either one of these two fine men will go to Washington and force the far left liberal September 10 secular progressive crowd to cut spending and unnecessary big gov’t programs.
@Imno-We all have a dog in these congressional fights because folk like Rob and Jody can make a huge difference once they go to the Capitol. Either one of them will be a part of a new Republican Congress which will derail Hussein Obama’s plans which are destroying this once-free nation.


Junior Samples

August 3rd, 2010
10:59 am

I may not be a republican, but I always favor honesty.

Billy Joe Poteet

August 3rd, 2010
10:59 am

I have no dog in this fight, either. The fed confiscates far and away too much money from the taxpayers as it is and should be required to live within its’ means. There are so many ways they could reduce spending by, including but not limited to, reducing the number of employees, reducing some (or a lot) of the salaries paid to fed wmployees, ending foreign aid to countries that despise us and zero-based budgeting. Further, congress should enact a law forbidding unionization of public service employees – which includes all federal employees.


August 3rd, 2010
11:00 am

@One Karen Left Behind, you Deal Paid Posters are really wearing this lie out. Why would anyone vote for a Corrupt Washington Politician like Deal when they could vote for a honest woman like Karen Handel


August 3rd, 2010
11:00 am

@ Steve and others like him.
Woodall is co-author of the Fair Tax books w/Neal. He probably did most of the grunt work on the Fair Tax and knows more about tax policy than his opponent.
Just because a special interest group tries to make headlines because he “won’t sign” is not reason to not vote for him. Again and again the sheeple are being played by special interest groups with, what 25 members?
It is the same as the GA Right to Life (GRTL) waking up and not endorsing Karen Handel, the only woman in the race, because she thinks a “morning-after” pill in case of rape is OK. The sheeple go “Bah, Bah she is not as pro-life as Deal”. I don’t think Deal has to worry about rape.
We think most men would feel different if its their teenage daughter. Funny, how most Dads, I know would reach for their pistol.

Tom Ga Hunter

August 3rd, 2010
11:04 am

Still learning how to use spell check that should have been “no earmark” pledge.

By the way did Nathan Deal sign the “no earmark” pledge or is he just another of those big spending liberals?


August 3rd, 2010
11:10 am

Good for Woodall – honesty and the realization that once in office you at least have to look at all the options rather than just blindly following a bunch of slogan chanting idiots.

North GA

August 3rd, 2010
11:12 am

@ Bill O.
It may be a common sense pledge – but Woodall knows Tax policy. Tax policy needs to be re-worked from the bottom up. The Fair Tax would get money from all those not paying now (not paying income tax or even getting up to $5,400 back as EITC). To do a “tit-for-tat” pledge would tie his hands.
Remember poor Bush I – “Read my lips”????
The lame-street media would love to play – remember when, back in 2010 you signed this worthless piece of paper? Did you lie then or are you lying now? Are you still beating your wife??, etc.
Don’t care who wins, but as another poster said – The sheeple are being played by special interest groups.

One Karen Left Behind

August 3rd, 2010
11:23 am

-Nathan Deal rejects the money to preserve local control of education. Let teachers decide their own curriculum, not Barack Obama.

-Karen Handel wants to “get our fair share” from Washington DC and Obama. And not “turn our nose up” at stimulus money.

I turn my nose up at allowing the fingers of socialism to touch our children while they are in the classroom trying to learn.

I also turn my nose up at suburban Washington natives and inside the beltway insiders coming down to Georgia and attacking a Georgian who has fought for his constituents North Georgia Mountains for 17 years.

Nathan Deal is from Gainesville, Georgia. Not Washington. Karen Handel is a native and insider of Washington, DC.


August 3rd, 2010
11:30 am

I am a Dem, so I don’t have a preference here, but at least Woodall is honest about not signing the pledge. He sounds like he definitely understands tax issues. Folks may be surprised to hear a Dem say this, but I am OK with tax cuts as long as we can fund them. I love how everyone says, we need to cut “Big Government Programs.” But if we cut in their particular backyard, they complain.


August 3rd, 2010
11:55 am

Re: Republican flat-earthers:

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance


August 3rd, 2010
12:00 pm

@ Left Behind – are you kidding us or just stupid??
The federal government and teacher unions have controlled the classrooms for years.
You think if Deal, now all of a sudden, rejects money it will change one thing?
Teachers set their own classroom standards?? – the reason Atl / GA schools are so behind is not because of money or standards, its drop outs, pregnant girls, unwed mothers, etc.
These are social issues way bigger than anything Deal or Handel can fix.
When you turn your nose up, what you smell is not clean fresh north GA air,
you smell the impending grand jury stink coming Deals way.
Let him go fishing with his grandsons in peace, like his ad shows. Hope he stays there.
He deserves a good retirement.

T Knight

August 3rd, 2010
12:01 pm

The problem with Northquist and other groups is that they start off with a great idea, but they don’t grow continue to grow and develop. They tend to get stuck in the rut, largely because they are volunteer organizations with members who are looking for a vehicle for their own agenda.

No one likes to talk about taxes, but I think Rob Woodall may be on to something.

Honest Abe

August 3rd, 2010
12:04 pm

At least someone gets RTTT is like STIMULUS $$$. Once you get hooked the feds never let you go. Obama knows what he is doing and Handel is getting drawn into another big government program. Someone has to say no to Obama.


August 3rd, 2010
12:09 pm

@Bill Orvis White,

Congratulations! You are today’s winner in stringing together the largest number of empty, vacuous phrases in a post and trying to pass it off as enlightenment. Do you have a note card you keep those on?

Citizen Cain

August 3rd, 2010
12:17 pm

I do live in the 7th district and will be voting AGAINST Hice. A bible-thumping religious looper who would impose a theocracy if he had the chance. He does not believe that separation of church and state does or should exist. He is a preacher, a phony and a dangerous fanatic.


August 3rd, 2010
12:25 pm

Citizen Cain – keep up the theatrics, champ. You’re dead wrong.

He is a preacher, but how is he a phony? How is he a dangerous fanatic? I’ve never heard anybody (even his detractors) call him a phony before. And as far as “dangerous fanatic” goes – the guy tried to keep the ACLU from forcefully removing a document from a public building. You’re just angry because it was the Ten Commandments. He stood up to the IRS because he believed its code was discriminatory and infringing upon first amendment rights… I happen to agree with the guy. Nothing about this is dangerous or fanatical.

Educated by cash

August 3rd, 2010
12:53 pm

The States that have the highest test scores pay the most for their teachers. I don’t know a single GOP supporter that would disagree with the statement you get what you pay for. As long as we pay teacher a pittance we’ll be at the bottom of the list.

GI Dolly...

August 3rd, 2010
1:10 pm

Time for Handeless to put on her big boy pants! Go Fish!


August 3rd, 2010
1:15 pm

@ one karen left behind,

“fingers of socialism”. Do you support public education? Roads? Social Security? Medicare? Fire department? Police? Farm supports? Libraries? Public parks? Sorry, all are socialist. Even the (original) idea of insurance is socialist.

We have never been a purely capitalist society. We have always had a blend of capitalism and socialism. We are better off for it. Likewise, no society is exclusively socialist. All this talk of socialism is a red herring. Dump the blind idealism.

Alabama Communist

August 3rd, 2010
1:17 pm

Not only that! The Candiate said he would not pledge to meeting Grover Norquisting at Republican Tea Bag Gay Clubs in the future to discuss why the American people are getting in the end………

about time

August 3rd, 2010
1:30 pm

Citizen Cain- You are absolutely correct in your description of Jody Hice. I grew up in a town where he was a Baptist preacher. He was an absolute bible thumping nut case.

[...] the American’s For Tax Reform “no tax increase” pledge. Woodall explains (via the Political Insider): ATR sponsors the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to encourage lawmakers to oppose tax rates increases, [...]

One Karen Left Behind

August 3rd, 2010
1:53 pm

Bill, the United States was not founded on socialism. It was founded on individualism and personal responsibility. The last thing this malignant tumor that is our federal government needs to do is take over the education of our children. The end result of a federal takeover of education will be people all talking the same, acting the same, thinking the same, all the while only playing the game without a full deck of of cards. It would kill the creativity and the competitive edge of our society completely.

One Karen Left Behind

August 3rd, 2010
1:55 pm

And congrats to Karen Handel for voicing her support this morning for giving the federal government control of Georgia’s schools. Now we all see why she did not want to debate.

The General

August 3rd, 2010
2:01 pm

Yearning for a Theocracy? Then Jody Hice is your man.


August 3rd, 2010
2:12 pm

Woodall refused to sign ATR’s BS pledge not to increase taxes. Not necessarily the same thing as “talking about hiking taxes,” as Norquist claims. So who do you trust here? The guy (Woodall) who is honest about his intentions and whose history indicates he wants to scrap a broken tax system and try something else, or the guy who twists words (Norquist)? That pledge is, at best, a vehicle for treading water. Woodall is looking for ways to reach shore.


August 3rd, 2010
2:20 pm

Sorry but DC insiders are part of the problem. Woodall is getting contributions from government affairs positions, lobbyists, and other special interests in DC. Look at his FEC report. See who is investing in his campaign. That alone tells me all I need to know. Woodall’s claim to fame is knowing DC and being able to hit the ground running. Well seeing how he’s been on the ground for ten years, his champion issue is very far from being put into effect. Yeah there are a few more cosponsors. But in his bragging of being able to reach across the aisle, where is the example of his work on the Fair tax?

I love his mailer pledging what he will do day one. The Fair Tax is already ‘introduced’. All of the other examples he claims to want to do day one have already been introduced. And they have gone nowhere. Plus, why wait? Why wait until January? If he has as much pull and skills as he claims, why has he not already done this? If the issues are as important as he claims, talk to his boss and get it done now. Why wait and use it as some bait to get votes? That smacks of pandering rather than getting the job done.

All I have to do is see how far 10 years has gotten him on his champion issue – nowhere close to being passed. If anything, thanks to all that Obama and the Dems have either passed or added in regulations, it would take even more than a bill passing to get it enacted.

Woodall is a one hit wonder with more connections to the problem rather than the solution. In a day that you have tea party and other grassroots movements trying to return influence to the district, why would you put the exact opposite in office? Instead of a DC insider telling the 7th what is needed why not have a 7th district constituent telling DC what is needed?


August 3rd, 2010
2:27 pm

“I love his mailer pledging what he will do day one. The Fair Tax is already ‘introduced’. All of the other examples he claims to want to do day one have already been introduced.

You do know that you have to re-introduce bills every Congress? They don’t just magically stay around year after year. Which bills has Jody said he’ll introduce?


August 3rd, 2010
2:37 pm

Yes I do. And is Rob the only one capable of this? I mean in his arrogance, he makes it sound like unless he’s in this particular seat the Fair Tax just never will have a chance. Rob seems to have a pompous attitude like he is single-handedly the Fair Tax. Forget the people that have for years been doing the legwork on this. I guess all of this credit to Linder all these years was a farce. It seems Linder was a sock puppet controlled by a Chief of Staff. And if Woodall is not elected, the Fair Tax is just completely dead. I mean is Woodall saying that the Fair Tax is incapable of being advocated for outside of him being elected? Can he not keep working on it in some other capacity? Are all of the other co-sponsors just incapable?


August 3rd, 2010
2:55 pm


I did not say the US was founded on socialism. I said it has always been PART of our society. This is not about good and evil, just different ways to address societal problems or issues.


August 3rd, 2010
2:59 pm

I haven’t voted for a Republican in, well, ever but I truly wish I lived in the 7th so I could vote for Woodall. Not many politicos even on the left have the grit to stand up to Norquist’s ATR.

I have never understood why constitutents would let their elected representatives make a pledge to put the interests of any organization or entity ahead of their own. What a foolish thing to do.

One Karen Left Behind

August 3rd, 2010
3:09 pm

Bill, One major societal problem/issue lately is the federal takeover of everything. One key area that should not be taken over by the fed’s is our state school system. We are in big trouble if Georgia public schools, Goldman Sachs, and General Motors are all run by the same people. I could not believe Karen Handel endorsed this federal takeover.

Simple Wisdom

August 3rd, 2010
3:15 pm

I’ve lost my admiration for Norquist. Rob Woodall is a man we can trust to do what’s right. Norquist has done some good work, but he’s got his feathers ruffled because not everyone wants to sign his silly pledge. Woodall is a tax policy expert with a rare combination of leadership, brilliance and integrity. Jody Hice has fought some good fights, but that doesn’t automatically make him Congressional material. I hope he keeps it up, but Woodall is the clear choice in this one.


August 3rd, 2010
3:22 pm

grits – you’re joking right? Every politician makes a pledge to put some entity or organization ahead of their own. Read Woodall’s mailers. He proudly proclaims being endorsed by Georgia Right to Life. This means only one exception to the life of a mother. To get the endorsement he had to pledge.


August 3rd, 2010
3:26 pm

Simple Wisdom – besides the line straight off the campaign website, can you give specific examples of his leadership and integrity? I mean hitting Hice on campaign loans is a little off base from the guy getting DC money left and right. Saying he fights this sort of behavior all while raking in corporate lobbyist, government affairs, and DC money left and right? Not sure where the integrity is in already being bought and paid for before even getting into office.

Debbie Dooley

August 3rd, 2010
3:35 pm

Rob Woodall refused to sign the Atlanta Tea Party Pledge as well. Woodall supports earmarks. This race is pitting the D.C insider against a citizen activist.

If elected I:

Pledge to oppose all earmarks.

Pledge not to vote for any bill that intrudes on the authority of the state governments and recognize the fundamental principles that powers not enumerated in the Constitution belong to the states.

Pledge to support legislation that promotes State’s rights.

Pledge to vote to repeal the OMNIBUS Health Care bill and vote to implement free market, patient centered solutions to our healthcare system.

Pledge to vote against Cap and Trade.

Pledge to vote against any new tax increases.

Pledge to vote against the Fairness Doctrine.

Pledge to support FairTax legislation or other tax reform bills that simplify the tax code.

Pledge to vote to make permanent the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, and making permanent the AMT “patch”.

Pledge to vote to cut the corporate income tax rate to encourage investment and job creation in the United States.

We agree that the mandatory use of E-Verify by all employers in the United States, along with “attrition through enforcement” policies that promote disciplined and constitutionally compliant enforcement of our federal immigration laws deters unauthorized entrants and the flow of contraband to our country.

We agree that rewarding those who violate our immigration laws undermines the credibility of immigration enforcement, so we pledge to vote to uphold federal law and oppose amnesty programs for illegal aliens. We also pledge to vote to institute strict penalties for employers that knowingly hire illegal aliens. We pledge to vote to secure our borders as a pre-requisite to immigration reform and vote to only allow government benefits to legal residents.


August 3rd, 2010
3:38 pm

Will Woodall call out the rest of the GA delegation for signing the pledge? And clearly his brilliance and intellect could not convince his own boss from signing the pledge as well. Or any other pledges, endorsements, etc. If Woodall cannot convince his own boss who he is very close to, how can he convince anyone else who is a moderate or liberal or even slightly varying degree of conservative?

True Conservative

August 3rd, 2010
4:14 pm

If we can’t count on Republicans to not raise taxes then we are in a heap of trouble. As a conservative, your strategy should be to cut wasteful spending to balance budgets, not raise taxes. The fact that Woodall doesn’t seem to adhere to this way of thinking should make his supporters think twice.

True Conservative

August 3rd, 2010
4:17 pm

@grits 2:59, how in the world is signing this pledge putting the people’s interest over an organizations?! The whole point of the organization is to keep taxes low, which is obviously something citizens want and need. For all Republicans that want to keep taxes low, without hesitation, vote Hice.