Graham says he'd break no-tax 'pledge'
November 25th, 2012
12:42 PM ET
2 years 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. Joseph

    You want to fix Social Security.QUIT giving away S.S. money to people that haven't put that amount of money in S.S.That includes children.

    November 26, 2012 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  2. anon

    Typical politician going back on his word. America is long overdue for another revolution.

    November 26, 2012 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  3. Free Man in the Republic of Texas

    Senator willing to break 'pledge'

    It depends on what the meaning of "is"... is???

    November 26, 2012 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  4. Tony in Maine

    While it's encouraging that Grover no longer has the whip, Republicans need to remember that voters did NOT tell them to toss Grampa and Grandma onto an iceberg and shove them out into the ocean. If Lindsay and his sidekicks think they can screw around with Social Security and Medicare with impunity, they may find normal folk blocking their place on the ballot.

    I know it's the conventional wisdom that we can't afford to care for our citizens, I would maintain that most of the industrialized world does exactly that without terrible consequences. The secret – they don't go rushing off to play cop every time one of those countries wrings its hands about a neighbor.

    November 26, 2012 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  5. larry5

    It's about time that these politicians out themselves. Keeping promises is something for those with principles,. That kind of person is never confused with a politician. If you can't figure out how to do your job as a politician then just call for higher taxes.

    November 26, 2012 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  6. anon

    So another politican going back on his word. Big surprise. I wouldn't be surprised if America goes through another revolution. Maybe we need one to fix things?

    November 26, 2012 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  7. general

    for real we spend enough...im no gop'er, but spending is our problem...the American Revolution was fought over 15% taxation...15%...

    November 26, 2012 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  8. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    He has already broken his pledge to the American people he represents.

    November 26, 2012 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  9. trex

    .......Soooooo,......did YOU contact your Congressman and Senators to tell them to COMPROMISE?.......or are ya just LAZY.?????

    November 26, 2012 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  10. Phil

    I am not sure how you people come up with winning by a small majority is a manadate. The other half of the country believes we should not raise taxes.

    November 26, 2012 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  11. ronvan

    UNKNOWNS: Right now there are to many unknowns as to what will happen with this fiscal cliff mess! You cannot get a straight answer from politicans, experts, etc.. It is all based on THEIR opinion! Remember, not to long ago, that they were reporting 2000+ millionairs collecting unemployment checks? Now hearing that these "rich" people are finding ways to move their monies into "off shore", out of country, accounts! Republicans "giving up" their pledge, made 20yrs. ago, to not raise taxes! IF this turns out to be just another "divide" of Dems. & Reps. with nothing getting done, then, for me, the ONLY way for US, is to vote ALL of these idiots out of office and bring in some fresh blood.

    November 26, 2012 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  12. Billy

    I agrees that entitlements need to be on the table, and the first item should be Congress's own pension. Let's see if Senator Graham agrees with that!

    November 26, 2012 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  13. David Friedman

    Raise tax rates AND cap deductions.
    These losers lost the election.
    Can't wait to vote them off the island!
    ObamaCares!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 26, 2012 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  14. Leeford

    Letting tax cuts expire (the ones that were designed to epxire) is not breaking a pledge to not raise taxes.

    November 26, 2012 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  15. aurelius

    Graham was the leading panel member who demanded Bill Clinton's impeachment. I think he should now taste his own medicine and be impeached himself for breaking his vow.

    November 26, 2012 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  16. IvotedearlyforObama

    What about the pledge to the American people and not just some rich loser who don't want his taxes raised?

    November 26, 2012 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  17. DOG1

    Among the entitlements you cut how about billions in Oil subsidies and the other handouts that corporations in this country are getting even though they are sitting on record profits?

    November 26, 2012 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  18. rs

    Every single politician (regardless of party affiliation) has to decide: Whether they support the Constitution of the United States and the citizens of our nation, or the twisted, selfish desires of one man who represents about 1% of the population. The choice should be crystal clear. To support the Constitution and our people means denying Mr. Norquist. Supporting Norquist through his written pledge should mean the office holder resigns immediately, or stands trial for treason.

    November 26, 2012 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  19. Kevin

    The "fiscal cliff" wouldn't have terrible repercussions. It is hardly a "cliff". Don't buy into all this, it just sounds good on a headline so it's reported on daily.

    November 26, 2012 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  20. Carolyn Foster

    Medicare is not an entitlement program, I have put money into the program since 1963. Medicaid, CHDP, WIC are entitlement programs. No one pays into the programs yet certain groups of the population have received benefits sometimes generations.

    November 26, 2012 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  21. lolo

    The GOP is just trying to fool people as usual, but they know that their jobs are on the line now. The American people have spoken and they had better try to work with the president or they will be voted out come mid-term elections. They should have not signed a pledge from anyone but the American people who they are suppose to be working fo, not Rush or Grover. McCain needs to get over his lose in 2008 and McConnell, Boehner, Cantor and the rest of the clowns are put on notice.Either get it done or you are out period.

    November 26, 2012 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  22. Honestly?

    I hadn't realized the Grover Norquist pledge has been around for 22 yrs. That ticks me off. If any politician from any party signs another stupid pledge from some stupid lobbyist, your goose is cooked come election time. You've been warned.

    November 26, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  23. Bill

    Just remember...this 'no-tax pledge' is nothing more than promise made to a lobbyist. Nothing more, nothing less. I think it's absurd so many Republicans would feel so bound to the promises they made to some scumbag lobbyist, especially when it conflicts against the best interests of the country, but then again, I guess that's par for the course with House Republicans.

    November 26, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  24. Rosslaw

    Grover Norquist has promised to personnally bugger any republican for (1) violating the no tax pledge and (2) because he likes to.

    November 26, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  25. Malory Archer

    AFDC (Aid for Dependent Corporations) should be the first cut. In fact, it should be completely severed. There – problem half solved! Another solution would be to allow Americans to opt out of Social Security and be reimbursed every dime they and their employers on their behalf have paid in. This is a great option for the 45 – 54 crowd who have been working (for declining wages) for at least the last 25 years and would be royally sca-rewed by any changes to the system. We're too old to try to recoup anything they would change, but if we could get our $$$ back in a lump sum we could pay off mortgages and other bills (economic stimulus!). We could then save the $$$ that went to other expenses and retire with more $$$ than would be in our SS accounts at the current rate. It's a win-win for all 45 – 54 year olds!

    November 26, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
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