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House, Senate Take 'No New Progress' Pledge
WASHINGTON (CAP) - On the heels of a tentative agreement to raise the nation's debt ceiling, 236 congressmen and 41 senators have signed a pledge to accomplish absolutely nothing during their remaining time in office.
Lawmakers who signed the "No New Progress" pledge, the brainchild of Grover Norquist of the Americans for Tax Reform, promise to "oppose and vote against any and all efforts to make progress of any kind."
"We need to hold our legislators accountable for their actions," said Norquist this week. "It's not good enough to say on the campaign trail that you're not going to get anything done once you get into office - legislators need to be willing to put pen to paper and promise to do everything in their power to bring progress to a grinding halt."
There has been some debate over whether signers of the pledge are obligated simply not to contribute to progress, or if they need to be actively impeding progress through their votes and actions.
"I'd go with No. 2," said Norquist.
A prime example is the recent debt ceiling battle. With the 11th hour quickly approaching, lack of congressional approval of the deal between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner could result in the nation defaulting on its debt, which in turn would result in hundreds of thousands of job losses, deep cuts to Social Security and Medicare, sky-high interest rates and a so-called "double-dip" recession.
"Now that's what I call progress!" said Norquist. "Er ... by which I mean, no progress."
Although only Republicans have signed the agreement as of yet, not all have rallied behind it. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), declined to sign the pledge and referred to its backers as "Tea Party Hobbits" on the Senate floor.
"They were once men. Great kings of men," McCain continued. "Then Sauron the deceiver gave to them nine rings of power. Blinded by their greed, they took them without question, one by one falling into darkness. Now they are slaves to his will. They are the Nazgul, Ringwraiths, neither living nor dead. At all times they feel the presence of the Ring, drawn to the power of the One. They will never stop hunting you."
Then there were three or four minutes of awkward silence, before one of McCain's aides led him back to his office to lie down.
Contacted later at her home in Alaska, McCain's former running mate Sarah Palin expressed regret at not putting him in a nursing home when she had the chance.
But presidential contender Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) - still recovering from her recent fall off a turnip truck - strongly supports the no-progress pledge, one she promised to carry with her into the White House. As to the debt ceiling debate, she said that a U.S. default would "not be the end of the world," unless of course Jesus happened to come back the same day and carry righteous Christians up to heaven.
"Then I bet all those homosexuals who get left behind will be sorry they didn't pray away the gay," she added. "I'm just saying."
For his part, Boehner - who signed the pledge in giant block letters after an extended thumb-wrestling session with former speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi - clarified that the goal of making no progress wouldn't be a long-term one. Rather, it would last just until they can get Obama voted out of office. "Then we can start making progress again, like we did under President Bush," he said.
In a related story, more than 150 million Americans have signed a pledge to move to Canada if that happens.
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