Graham says he'd break no-tax 'pledge'
November 25th, 2012
12:42 PM ET
1 year ago

Graham says he'd break no-tax 'pledge'

(CNN) – A leading Republican senator said Sunday he's willing to break the no-tax pledge promoted by activist Grover Norquist if Democrats are willing to help pass spending reforms on government programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Sen. Lindsey Graham said he believes capping tax deductions should be part of a plan to reduce the federal debt - a revenue-raising tactic that pushes against Norquist's Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which stipulates lawmakers who sign the document will "oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates."

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"I'm willing to generate revenue," Graham said on ABC. "It's fair to ask my party to put revenue on the table. We're below historic averages."

The South Carolina Republican said he agreed with Norquist that tax rates shouldn't be raised, but that Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, was mistaken in his unyielding opposition to increasing tax revenue.

"I think Grover is wrong when it comes to, we can't cap deductions and buy down debt," said Graham, who added that he would "violate the pledge, long story short, for the good of the country."

Part of any deal involving a cap on tax deductions would have to include agreement by Democrats to reforms in spending on government entitlement programs, Graham said.

"To do this, I just don't want to promise the spending cuts. I want entitlement reforms. Republicans always put revenue on the table. Democrats always promise to cut spending. Well, we never cut spending," he said.

Graham's readiness to break the no-tax pledge comes after other Republicans, including Sen. Saxby Chambliss, have voiced similar commitments to raising revenue as part of a deal to avoid to upcoming fiscal cliff.

Chambliss, a two-term Republican from Georgia, said Wednesday that Norquist's pledge stands in the way of finding common ground on reducing the debt.

"I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge," Chambliss told Georgia television station WMAZ, a CNN affiliate. "If we do it his way, then we'll continue in debt, and I just have a disagreement with him about that."

"If he wants to change his mind and become a tax increaser so we don't have to reform government, he needs to have that conversation with the people of Georgia," responded Norquist during an appearance on CNN's "The Situation Room" Friday.

Rep. Peter King, R-New York, said Sunday he agreed with Chambliss that a pledge signed decades ago shouldn't be considered relevant today, and that "everything should be on the table."

"A pledge you signed 20 years ago, 18 years ago, is for that Congress," King said on NBC. "For instance, if I were in Congress in 1941, I would have signed the declaration of war against Japan. I'm not going to attack Japan today. The world has changed. The economic situation is different."

Also on the CNN Political Ticker

– Graham says he'd break no-tax 'pledge'

– Cantor: Voters more concerned about problem solving than pledge

– Christie gets post-Sandy approval rating bump

– Norquist says he'll go after pledge-breakers

– Rep. Capito to run for Senate in West Virginia


Filed under: Grover Norquist • Lindsey Graham
soundoff (317 Responses)
  1. fekt

    So Nordquist is threatening to help unseat anyone who breaks his pledge. What's he going to do, have Karl Rove campgaign for them? This much is certain, the last election proved these clowns can't get a person elected. The only thing they can do now is try to cost someone else the election. So go ahead, Grover. Do your worst. You'll be helping a democrat with every republican you throw under the bus come time for the midterms..You'll split the conservative vote and the democrats will stay united. He is going to hasten the death of his own party. Not to suprising as he is part of the cancer that is festering in it.

    November 26, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  2. Robert

    Anyone who can't think and adapt to a changing environment should not be, or stay, elected. Anyone who is obviously in the pocket of lobbyists should not stay in office! The corruption here is so plain to see.

    November 26, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  3. Porter Lancaster

    It is better NEVER to vow a vow than to vow and not keep it. I look at these that are changing their minds are double minded and it will come back to bite them. It is called INTEGRITY it is rare in politics. Many will say or do anything for it to look good on them! NO MORALS!! How can we know for sure about any one that says one thing and does another.

    November 26, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  4. JJ

    The problem here is Graham is a walking D. This unscrupulous bung hole has never represented the republican party nor the great people of SC. He is and always be a democrat and would not have been elected if he kept to his democrat brand. This being is a disgrace to SC.

    November 26, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  5. B.

    I would like to know who the Hell gave Norquist the right to Highjack Congressional members in the first place, and to even Have such a pledge document!

    He is just a Lobbyist and not an elected person as well, what an outrageous thing to allow to happen in the first place!

    What happened to the pledge that Congress people made to the American people?

    November 26, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  6. TrueIndependent

    We are so stupid sometimes.....we will tax the wealthy and smile all the way to the store until we realize that prices have risen and it IS THE MIDDLE CLASS THAT WILL PAY THE TAXES!!!

    If you raise them, please tie any deductions to the guarantee that they can't just pass the cost on to the consumer. PLEASE BE SMART ABOUT THIS!!!!

    November 26, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  7. TrueIndependent

    It's both sides that are in the pockets of the lobbyists! Just look at what the Union got in the bailout! We must stop the influences in Washington that keep making the politicians' wealth increase dramatically when they take office. You know there is a problem when 2 men in the top 1% raise over a billion dollars to fight each other for 18 months over a job that pays less than 500K/year and is only guaranteed 4 with a guarantee of no more than 8. Just look at the wealth of Reid, Pelosi, Boehner, Obama, Cantor, etc on both sides at how their wealth has increased since running for office!

    Shameful!!!!

    November 26, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    ghost... I'm not arguing against a progressive taxation system. I've got no problems with the Bush tax cuts expiring. FOR EVERYONE.
    ---------------------–
    Really? Does that include restoring the capital gains rate back to 28%, or whatever it was during the Clinton years? Does that include all of the new tax loopholes and shelters that Bush created to "stimulate private investment"?

    November 26, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  9. Anti-boomer

    Why hasn't anyone talked about the Giant 100 Ton elephant in the room...Baby boomers...I lost my professional job three years ago and watched people my age(early 30's) losing their jobs as well, making 30-40,000 a year. While overweight, over-paid baby boomers are still on the job collecting huge pensions. People say they are burdening future generations with debt but what about YOU BABY BOOMER you caused it. As long as you get everything you want and need and more it doesnt matter what happens to your children ! Shame on you ...the worst generation ever!
    Unhealthy, and overpaid

    November 26, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    "I've got no problems with the Bush tax cuts expiring. FOR EVERYONE."

    TOUGH. That's what's going to happen wheher you like it or not, even if the GOP/Teatrolls delay and refuse to compromise like responsible adults. The GOP/Teatrolls can throw all the fits and make all the demands they want, but come December 31, 2012, you're going to get exactly what you just wished for, the GOP is going to get blamed for it, experts are going to continue to inform people that it's not good for the economy to have the middle-class take that hit and the Dems are going to put legislation on the table that renews those cuts for the middle-class ONLY. I'm going to have so much fun watching the GOP/Teatrolls commit political hare kari by trying to oppose it or hold it hostage while making demands. The GOP/Teatroll spider has had all its legs pulled off...that they continue to twitch is not evidence that there is life still left in them.

    November 26, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  11. William

    Good call by Graham. Norquist is irrelevant and a nuisance to progress. You can't have your cake and eat it too. It's about shared sacrifice. In order to invest in our future, we need to find ways to generate revenue, even if it means sticking it to the top 5% and lower middle class. Tax subsidies exist for both the rich (corporate breaks, loopholes and incentives) and poor (social welfare system). It's an unfortunate reality.

    November 26, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  12. Hugh Jass

    "I signed the pledge" should be a warning against voting for these nuts. Like a poison label on a bottle.

    November 26, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  13. DumbasRocks [R]s

    JJ - I do love it when FAILURES cannot fathom the reason for their FAILURE, and try to deflect it onto someone else. As a [D] I relish the fact that you wish to double-down on the very [R]ightwing stupidity that FAILED you in the last election.

    When all is said and done, YOU and your ilk are the disgrace to SC, and to our entire nation. But you keep it up....you are the poster-boy for [R] FAILURE.....I love it.

    November 26, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  14. fletc3her

    I think adhering to this "pledge" is a violation of the oath of office. No Congressperson should approach their job under prior restraint from a campaign donor.

    November 26, 2012 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  15. Hugh Jass

    JJ, don't try scraping Graham off on the Democrats. He's your boy and how do you like him, but I agree the guy's never worked for anyone but himself. He's been like a goat tick hanging off your party's moon for years and you ought to hold a match to him.

    November 26, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  16. just sayin

    what exactly are the democrats willing to cut out of the current spending? nothing. they have put nothing on the table. they want hundreds of billions in new taxes now, yet are not willing to cut one dollar in current spending. promises of future cuts, or cuts in the grwoth rate are lies. the spending just keeps growing and growing and growing and growing and .....

    November 26, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  17. Anti-boomer

    Baby boomers out there just admit the "ME" generation was a complete failure, you make the 20's generation look smart! Admit your failure and your greed so we as a nation can have a real discussion about the future and the United States one where can imagine you gone sitting on some beach somewhere with Jimmy Buffet and a mexican beer!

    November 26, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
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