Last month, in an article whose title, “The Most Powerful Man in America,” we hope is a gross hyperbole, Boston Globe reporter Neil Swidey profiled anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist.

Turns out, Norquist, 61, came by his hatred of taxation early. After buying his children ice cream cones, Swidey wrote, Norquist’s father took big bites out of them before handing them to his children, saying, “This is the income tax,” and “This is the property tax.”

Norquist grew up to head the misleadingly named organization Americans for Tax Reform. In that role, he requests that every member of Congress sign his Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

In it they promise that: “I will, one, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal tax rate for individuals and business; and, two, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.”

Very few Democrats have signed it, and several Republicans willing to risk being attacked by Norquist when running for re-election also refused to forever take tax increases off the table. But 97.5 percent of the Republicans in Congress, including every Republican in New Hampshire’s congressional delegation, signed the pledge.

Asked about his fidelity to the pledge in a recent meeting with Monitor editors, Rep. Charlie Bass first said that the pledge no longer seemed to be interpreted as strictly as it once was, and that he didn’t fear being attacked by anti-tax groups if he broke it.

That’s reassuring. But New Hampshire voters should consider whether it was wise to sign such a pledge in the first place.

We think not.

Maybe Bass, Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Rep. Frank Guinta were just showing fidelity to a fellow New Hampshirite when they signed the pledge. Norquist’s anti-tax fervor may have been fueled by his father’s bites of his ice cream, but it was, Swidey reported, none other than New Hampshire Gov. Meldrim Thomson Jr. and his “Ax the Tax” campaign that inspired young Norquist to choose life as an anti-tax crusader.

Thomson, you’ll recall, was also the governor who wanted to give nuclear weapons to the National Guard.

— The Concord (N.H.) Monitor

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