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Anti-tax leader sides with Obama on raising debt ceiling beyond 2012

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Grover Norquist is the president of Americans for Tax Reform
  • About 270 in Congress have signed the group's "no new tax" pledge
  • He said it would be a "disaster" if the nation defaults on its debt
  • Like Obama, he supports raising a debt ceiling beyond the 2012 election

(CNN) -- The head of a conservative group that has backed a high-profile pledge to oppose any tax increase told CNN on Friday that he would support effectively lifting the debt ceiling through the 2012 presidential election.

Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, spoke shortly after House Speaker John Boehner abruptly ended debt talks with the White House, in part due to his claim that President Barack Obama was insisting that "taxes have to be raised."

More than 230 House members and 40 senators, almost all of them Republicans, have signed a "no new taxes" pledge that has been circulated by Norquist's group. But unlike some fiscal conservatives, Norquist advised against taking an all-or-nothing approach in which the nation defaults on its debt unless major cuts (and no revenue hikes) are instituted.

"I assume it's a disaster," Norquist said of defaulting on the nation's debt, which would happen unless Congress takes action by August 2. "There's no reason to assume otherwise. It is gambling with the economics of the country."

Rather, Norquist said he supports allowing the debt ceiling to rise through 2013 -- thus giving voters the choice as to whether they support candidates who favor a strict cut approach to the deficit issue or one that involves both cuts and tax hikes.

This approach is in line with what Obama told reporters he would consider Friday evening, saying he would not favor any debt ceiling increase that did not extend at least that long.