A loophole in Americans for Tax Reform's anti-tax pledge may give the 235 House Republicans and 41 Senate Republicans who signed it a way to raise revenues without breaking the rules.
Pledge author Grover Norquist told The Washington Post editorial board that allowing the Bush-era tax cuts to expire would not violate the vow.
"Not continuing a tax cut is not technically a tax increase," Norquist said.
"So it doesn't violate the pledge?" the editorial board asked.
"We wouldn’t hold it that way," he replied.
In an interview with MSNBC's Chris Jansing Thursday, Norquist was clear that Americans for Tax Reform would oppose letting tax cuts expire even if that would not technically violate the pledge.
"It clearly would be a dramatic increase on taxes," Norquist said. "How you get into CBO scoring and technicalities is a different issue in terms of taxes lapsing."
"So many of the Republicans who have signed this pledge have said they cannot break it, that their constituents expect them to keep this pledge," Jansing noted. "If they voted -- if it's okay to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire, does it break the pledge or are you giving them an out?"
"There's certain things you could do technically and not violate the pledge but the general public would clearly understand is a tax increase. So I can be clear, Americans for Tax Reform would oppose any effort to weaken, reduce or not continue the 2001-2003 Bush tax cuts, and any changes of taxes should be kept separate from the budget deal," he explained.
The White House was already suggesting that Norquist's comments to the Post could give House Republicans room to negotiate in debt ceiling talks.
"Norquist's comments in the @washingtonpost are v. signifigant in the deficit talks. Are most House GOPers to the right of Grover on taxes?" White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer tweeted.
Watch this video from MSNBC's Jansing & Company, broadcast July 21, 2011.