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. Dave in Arizona

    This is actually a more complex situation than one would see at first glance.

    Logically speaking:

    I don't see anyone suggesting taxes should be explicitly raised, but instead should be set back to agreed-upon norms by letting the Bush Tax Cuts expire as was planned. In effect the Republicans that voted for them /already/ voted for their expiration as well. So it's not so much that these people are now willing to raise taxes as it is they're willing to abide by past agreements to let them expire.

    That said, I think even Norquist stated a few years ago that letting the tax cuts expire isn't the same as raising normal tax rates. So even then he gave his blessing to the GOP politicians to let the tax cuts expire. They didn't then, so why should we take this latest move as compromise? They could have done this regardless of their pledge, according to Norquist.

    Then there's the perspective...

    I'll give the GOP politicians some credit for doing this. They'll certainly appear to be more compromising and reasonable than the stereotype has been of late, but at the same time they're breaking a pledge; a promise, very visibly. So there's a risk, but also a reward. All in all I'd call it a good move on their part. It'll pay off given the majority of Americans probably won't realize they're offering to do something they could have done before, anyway.

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

    It's amazing how losing to Mr Obama twice is really making the gop pay attention. We the middle class will no longer except the sole responsiblity of paying down this debt. gop had better remember no matter the amount of funds Norquist promises for a campaign if the people dont vote for you.......ask Romney.

    November 25, 2012 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  3. Steve

    Republicans are throwing Mitt, Norquist's, and Rove under the bus. It's about time. There is no sense in keeping losers around.

    November 25, 2012 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  4. RBSG

    The GOP posturing would be credible, if only Republicans (in the general population) did not include themselves in those programs that these GOP Senators/Congresspeople are trying to gut. The fact is that Republicans also draw Medicare, Social Security, and even other social programs such as Medicaid, Food Stamps, WIC and SSI (the welfare part of Social Security), not to mention public education, public parks, public libraries, and even wanting to have their kids watch PBS.

    It's simply a matter of hypocrisy and these GOP senators should understand that they are hurting their own constituents (who just happen to be stupid enough to vote for them).

    November 25, 2012 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  5. Kevin

    About time people started recognizing what a hack Grover is. Perhaps the GOP really IS heeding their wake-up call.

    November 25, 2012 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  6. Ann Marie

    While I could see possible cuts to waster in Medicare...Social Security is off the table.

    November 25, 2012 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  7. Charlie

    Thank God, Grover dins he's in ruling the Republican Party!

    November 25, 2012 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  8. Dale

    Say a lot but saying nothing windbags both parties, the seniors in these parties concerns are there insider information pork, they are not there representing the people they are supposed to be representing their representing themselves and their insider information givers. Both parties Washington DC is broken nothing but corruption , you can do whatever you want to to the other guy, but just leave me alone mentality.

    November 25, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  9. kaitlyn marshbanks

    Thank you, Lindsey Graham! When our elected representatives are grownups who work together for the common good, we are even prouder of being Americans!

    November 25, 2012 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  10. NameGail Loder

    I am from Georgia and I support Senator Saxby Chambliss!

    November 25, 2012 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  11. blf83

    It's about time! When Republicans finally recognize that the Tea Party is their nemesis and that compromise is essential to governing, they may also recognize that making pledges to any individual or group will eventually come to haunt them.

    November 25, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  12. gary

    Well well Senator Graham I guess you have forgotten that the entitlement Social Security is already paid for by us as a payroll deduction. I paid into it for 47 years and it is my money not the governments. The government was suppose to oversee the money but instead they stole the peoples money and now instead of us getting what we should be getting after the government holding our money for 47 years we are getting about half after we pay for your retirement and healthcare. Do you think, Senator Graham that we are all just backwoods bluecollar workers? If the government paid back what was stolen from the Social Security fund I could be getting a cost of living raise that would equal the raise in cost of living and might be able to enjoy my golden years (what a joke) more that just being able to make ends meet. Just think in the last year food prices have risen 25% and gas prices (thanks to GW Bush) have risen 20 to 25% and us on Social Security we be getting a big fat 1.7% increase for a cost of living raise in 2013. Where in the hell did you learn math? Must be the new math that the government is teaching their Senators and Congressmen and women. I think you are the joke when you don't want to tax the people who can afford to be taxed and continue to tax the bluecollar workers and middleclass citizens. I sure would like to debate you on taxes and show you that you are not really in touch with mainstream America. People on Social Security shoud have gotten at least a 10% cost of living raise in benefits and we should stop paying for your healthcare, and retirement and you should pay the amount of taxes on all your monies that you draw from the people. Just remember the government (you Senator Graham) are not trustworthy enough to be in charge of such a large amount of money. So what are you saying or what is the government saying that the Social Security tax is just another income tax tacked on to us. The government is trillions of dollars indebt to the Social Security fund thanks to people like Ike and Ronald Reagan who gave a speech and stated that the Social Fund was not THE SACRED COW and took even more than anyone else to fund Grenada invasion. Y'all better wake up soon or we won't have nothing left but HUNGRY PEOPLE and if you look back in history what happens to a government when you get the populas hungry?????

    November 25, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  13. Put America First!

    Good for you, Senator Graham! I left the GOP several years ago because of the growing extremism, the blind allegiance to the power hungry extremists like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Grover Norquist and their ilk. I totally lost respect for Republicans because they are now pawns of Rupert Murdock and FOX. This gives me hope that sanity is returning to the GOP. Stand your ground, Mr. Graham, and maybe people like me will return to the Party we were once so proud to belong to!

    November 25, 2012 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  14. Eugene

    Wonderful news. Now let's just get this great country back on the road to recovery and good health.

    November 25, 2012 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  15. Vence

    I loved when republiklans recognize that they are alone in this unwinnable war on taxes! Elections have many changes! long live to democracy.

    November 25, 2012 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  16. Farrok

    Forget it, no cuts to Social Security or Medicare. Cut Defense spending as it is blotted and swollen up like a fat nasty tick........

    November 25, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  17. Gurgyl

    Why not we CUT ALL THE BENEFITS OF THESE SENATE/congress thugs??? Gut? Ask for it then remove all thest nasty thugs of this nation in next election. Do not even respect these thugs. America is so vulnerable with these GOP thugs.

    November 25, 2012 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  18. Farrok

    Mr. Grover Norquist is nothing more than a political worm that is out of touch with today's conditions and financial realities.

    November 25, 2012 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  19. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Is Graham really breaking the pledge or is he "breaking away from John McCain" whom he embarrassingly sided with not to support Susan Rice when in fact President Obama made no announcement of anyone replacing Hillary Clinton. At one time I thought Graham was a voice of reason, I'm not so sure anymore about him.

    November 25, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  20. n

    Why not come around, there plan to make this president a one termer failed. So back away from running to economy into the dump and start coming together for the good of the nation. Period.

    November 25, 2012 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  21. mitchlabuda

    Imagine if lawmakers followed their own will and not the will of another. The budget process may have been worked on sooner and will less drama

    November 25, 2012 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  22. stan

    just another ploy with fancy words, but if you read between the lines, he's saying as long as the senate passes the ryan budget, he'll stiff the middle class with capping tax deductions because that is who will be affected, not the upper 2%

    November 25, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  23. plantain_11

    Do we really live in an age where our politicians sign "pledges" from political hacks in order to garner votes and then somehow feel bound by them? This is the United States of America. Any government officials signing pledges should be ousted for dereliction of duty. Stoooopid Republicans. GRRR!

    November 25, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  24. Al-NY,NY

    I'll believe it when i see it with these supposed "renegade republicans." I predict a mea culpa once fatty Limbaugh and the rest start tearing them apart

    November 25, 2012 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  25. El Lobo

    graham's proposal might as well be written in water. SSI we pay for. Its our to be used as it was intened. I am sure graham states never benefited from raiding the SSI fund and returning worthless IOU's. This year over 700 billon dollars will be borrowed by the defense budget how much of that is coming from the SSI Fund. Isnt it funny now that the ssi fund is not funneling as much money to be squandered by the pols like lindsay its a must do to gut it? lindsay you are phony as you are clueless. Now if you mention means testing in your scenario I might pay attention to you, as if that would ever be mentioned by the likes of you.

    November 25, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
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