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. vic , nashville ,tn

    Norquist brought 112th congress to halt , I want blame Norquist I will blame who sign his Taxpayer Protection Pledge

    November 25, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  2. Wire Palladin, S. F

    It was treasonous for any elected official to put their pledge to Grover Norquist ahead of their pledge to our people and our government. Lindsay is now walking back his stupidity with the unfounded comments from the conspiracy theorists at Fox foreign owned media on Rice.

    November 25, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  3. Thomas

    The good news is we have found out the hard way , that wars are not always profitable for a country as a whole !
    And the cost of war can overshadow a countries sustainable standard of living . Roman Empire 101.

    And for those that use Socialism as a defense against equality , they only need to look at the VA to justify there ignorance and denial .

    Waste , corruption , unaccountability needs to stop, And a fare and just tax code needs to be made into law.
    This will never happen with men such as Boehner, McConnell or Norquist .

    November 25, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  4. Frankie

    Duh ... it's about time Tea/Republicans saw reality.

    November 25, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  5. batjones

    Oh no – The photo shows Senator Graham's mouth open – He must be lying again – LOL. Sorry I could not resist.

    November 25, 2012 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  6. ST

    What is eating the brains of Lindsey Graham nowadays? Why is he putting conditions on raising taxes? Hands off Social Security and Medicare for seniors, please!

    November 25, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  7. onlyfacts

    The GOP idiots are getting scared. Slowly but surely they are realizing they'd better change or its over. This will be fun to watch.

    November 25, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  8. maf

    Wow, this information was available before the election . . . it is pretty clear to see that the GOP was really ready to allow the economy to melt down in order to retake the White House. Unbelievably short sighted and way too narrow a focus.
    Now revenues are in play. Despicable, shameless, unwarranted partisanship . . . well, you deserve what is coming to you.
    2014, a time when the house can be cleared of the negative, obstructive nature of this version of the Republican party.

    November 25, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  9. Squigman

    They really don't have a clue, but neither has the public. If the public were enlightened, Grover, would have been exiled from public office a long time ago. He's never been elected to any office, yet he seems to believe he holds court over the entire country as if it were his land to reign over. It's hard to believe the people have put up with this kind of abuse as long as they have. Shows the sheep mentality that flows through the masses. WAKE-UP.

    November 25, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  10. wylie

    I've been a registered Republicaqn for over 35 years. I am appalled at UN-ELECTED people like Norquist exerting political pressure on the ELECTED officials of our nation and demanding oaths of allegiance to HIM not the nation. Let the elected officials do what their constituents sent them to Congress to do.

    People like Norquist are quickly making the Republican party as relevant as floppy-drives.

    November 25, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  11. Don't Like John McCain

    "...if Democrats are willing to help pass spending reforms on government programs like Social Security and Medicare."

    You republicans still don't get it, do you? The American people have spoken and we want you to cut spending by eliminating fraud, waste and the perks all you Congress and Senate folks enjoy that cost the American people millions, billions, whatever. Before you even think about touching social security or medicare, I want to see you, Lindsey Graham, living the life of a normal American, not some rich guy who will destroy this country just to keep things the way they are: rigged in favor of rich people! Get over yourself and do the will of the people or you will be unemployed. We've had enough of the likes of you AND John McSenator and Mitch McSenator . . . you're all on your way OUT!

    November 25, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  12. Facts don't Lie

    don't jump up and down yet with joy thinking that some of these GOP senators and congress persons are on board with raising taxes on the wealthy..read between the lines of what they are saying. They are in favor of closing tax loopholes which is far different than telling the likes of Rush Limbaugh or Donald Trump his tax rate is going up.

    November 25, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  13. Montana dude

    I suggest that the everyone keep an eye on Sen. Lindsey Graham. I can;t believe this conservative suddenly decided to act like an in the interests of the people of the United States. Unless the Republican party really is changing. You know a party that actually welcomes minorities.

    November 25, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  14. Over the hill

    Norquist and his pledge are now just a part of the "ugly past" that he helped create. Only Norquist and his bumbling band of fools ever actually believed you could pay off debt by collecting less money. He was a fraud from the beginning and now after the elections, and we see exit polls that say 67% of americans believe some people should be paying more in taxes. He has been overthrown.. now we start with the "bright future" without him and his ideas.

    November 25, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  15. Bessy

    Tell him to " stuff it ". The President promised no changes to Social Security and medicare and we expect him to keep his promise.

    November 25, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  16. apostle14

    Graham is playing what's called a zero sum game. He's a trickster and deceiver. He's not in a position to do anything because whether or not he breaks his pledge taxes will be automatically going up. What is he going to do? Agree to something that is going to happen whether he supports is or not?? And if the dems don't put entitlement reform on the table what is he going to do? Frown when taxes automatically go up?? Graham is trying to gain something for nothing. It's kinda like someone promising to stop holding their breath if you agree to give up something you have that they want. If they keep holding their breath you lose nothing. Another republican gimmick.

    November 25, 2012 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  17. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    The real "wrong" here is that these Republicans have allowed people like Norquist, Rush Limbaugh, Koch Bros et al, Karl Rove et al and few others dictate to them what they can and cannot do and the "H" with what the American people want. They're not running away from Norquist's Pledge, they're running away from one another knowing that their party is doomed if they continue on the same path. They won't win in 2016 election because they've need more than 4 years to prove to the American people that they've changed.

    November 25, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  18. jpmichigan

    Elimination of tax deductons for the wealth is the way to go. Those who can afford million dollar homes and in fact own several homes should not be given interest paid on homes as a tax deduction, nor should income frome non-worked monenies. It is disgraceful that those who net worth is so great , they don't have to budget or watch how the spend or on what, should pay their farir share, instead of being greedy and take more than their fair share.

    November 25, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  19. SOLESUVIVOR

    I guess he's not as stupid as he looks.

    November 25, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  20. IK Okafor

    I think this is a reasonable and realistic way to think. I hope President Obama and the Dems will also reform Social Security and Medicare for good and cut spending; so that the future trajectory of our debt will be downwards. I'm proud of America in that I'm very confident that when the chips are down, our leaders will put aside partisanship and get the job done. You might call me naive but history is there to prove it.
    I'm an Independent but I'm proud that some of the GOP leaders seem to be open for compromise. I hope the hard core Tea party law makers will play ball too.

    November 25, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  21. Thinkergal

    'Bout time the Repubs grow up!

    November 25, 2012 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  22. Dude in Colorado

    This sounds a little like the 'ole PR shell game to me.

    Some Repubs are saying they're going to "break" their pledge to Norquist by, um, implementing exactly what Romney said he wanted to do, i.e. place a cap on deductions? Riiiight... So it wasn't breaking the pledge when it was part of Romney's 5-Point Plan, but now it is. Next these people will be saying they're completely breaking with long-held Republican beliefs by increasing military spending $1T/yr.

    November 25, 2012 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  23. migeli

    We don't need no stinkin Norquist.When did tax cuts for the wealthy create jobs? Just tell me, when?

    November 25, 2012 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  24. jonaty

    So far it's the Republicans doing the concessions, where are the Democrats?

    November 25, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  25. Elbonian

    When Republicans were in control a decade ago, they didn't cut spending either. The record in Congress of actually cutting spending and balancing the budget is that it happens when Democrats lead and Republicans follow, such as happened under Bill Clinton. So, if you really think the budget should be balanced, wish Obama well.....

    November 25, 2012 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
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