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. stevelng

    It's good to see some of the Moderate Republicans have a voice again. It seems Norquist and his thug conservatives don't intimidate the Republican party like they used to.

    November 25, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  2. RayJ

    Senator Graham took an oath to serve the people of the United States, not Grover Norquist. It isn't unreasonable to be frustrated with the way tax rates seem to ratchet up and up but ever increasing debt is not sustainable either. If part of the solution has to come from increasing revenues, reducing deductions is a good way to go about it since they are so obviously perverse and unfair. It isnt hard to realize that the people getting the most deductions are the people who can spend money on expensive accountants and shift their income into areas other than wages, Mitt Romney's embarrassingly low tax rate should have taught us all that. I also agree with what some people are saying about wasteful spending, It would be a lot easier to sell tax increases to people if we could be sure they were used to pay down the debt and not going to pay for entitlement programs.

    November 25, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  3. M

    As I recall, the Republicans sang quite a different tune the last time this issue came up. My, what a difference an election makes!

    November 25, 2012 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  4. David

    I am against any tax increases until the President and Congress will have a budet..........we have not had one in over 3 years and until they sit down a look at every item and cut the fat. While it is only millions it is really just not appropriate to keep giving taxpayer dollars to Middle East countries that hate us. There really should not be a cap on what each individual and company pay into social security. The social security age needs to be increased. There are so many things that can be done, but our President and Congress are just to interested in getting themselves and their parties re-elected. They might also throw into the mix term limits for Congressmen and Senators.

    November 25, 2012 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  5. Gurgyl

    @Rick McDaniel-could you please quit your venom and open your eyes knowing it is Bush two needless wars and Reagan idiotic Tricle-down nonsense that put this nation in the biggest ditch ever founded in nation's history. Just know it color is no matter here. Don't be stupid in 21st century. God bless.

    November 25, 2012 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  6. Brian in TX

    All of them should reject Norquist's pledge. There is only 1 pledge that matters and the one that was sworn into office on. Every time I look at Grover I see a spoiled little boy (who has the most irritating voice) and is used to getting his way. A mouthpiece for the Koch's. That's it. Put this tea party nonsense to away and let's get on with the business of governing this country.

    November 25, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  7. Namejonny madamada

    For years I have wondered how some idiot like Norquist could hold an entire political party hostage I am grateful the republicans are finally asking the same question. Just do us all a favor & quit interviewing this clown until he realizes his own irrelevence

    November 25, 2012 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  8. another VA guy

    Do you think if the GOP had adopted that stance earlier, that they could have won?

    November 25, 2012 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  9. 2012liberal

    Earned benifit cut is fair? But asking rich 2 pay 4 there wars and keeping their boot on the american workers is questionable? These 'Job creators hv only kept us peasants at their mercy with pitiful wages while they stuffed fists fulls of $ n their pockets' economy getting better not going 2 get away w it much longer. Start paying workers their worth or waste $ trying 2 find ppl 2 work 4 nothing.

    November 25, 2012 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  10. ThinkAgain: All of the GOP's policies are PROVEN FAILURES

    @Ray E. (Georgia): If you're looking for moochers, look no further than those in the top 1% who whine about how they might have to pay 3% more in taxes – when they'd be NOWHERE if it weren't for all the infrastructure, customers, and security provided by OUR COUNTRY.

    November 25, 2012 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  11. ThinkAgain: All of the GOP's policies are PROVEN FAILURES

    @Rick McDaniel: When GW Bush cut taxes during wartime (NEVER done before in our nation's history), and waged two unfunded wars and passed unfunded Medicare Part D, WERE YOU WHINING THEN?!?

    Didn't think so, you hypocrite!

    November 25, 2012 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  12. ThinkAgain: All of the GOP's policies are PROVEN FAILURES

    An elected official putting their allegiance to a mere citizen with an ax to grind ahead of their sworn oath to the Constitution should be charged with treason!

    Or better yet, how about Grover and his rich pals all start paying those officials' salaries and benefits?

    You want to own them; start paying for them and get them off the taxpayers' dime!!!!

    November 25, 2012 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  13. John

    It's about time for America (especially Republicans) to realize that Norquist's agenda is probably to destroy America from within by pitting the rich and the poor, the Republicans and Democrats, conservatives vs liberal. Norquist is probably a mole (perhaps self-motivated) to destroy the American economy due to his wife's interest for a pan Islamic world. Notice that his wife is still a practicing Muslim, it's very likely that Norquist is also a Muslim (a veiled one). Notice that he also started and supported Islamic Shariah market and laws. FYI, I live in a Muslim country before, I know that a practicing Muslim can only marry another Muslim. So, it's very likely that Norquist is a Muslim.

    November 25, 2012 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  14. Radgast

    They have had a year to get this fixed, they squandered it til after the election, now instead of putting this issue behind us, they will whittle away at it and fight the political tug o war posturing to try and save face even as they discuss what they are open to. cutting social security is a retro tax to me, but they are ok with that, people paid into it and now they want to take more of it away.

    November 25, 2012 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  15. Words

    I hope Republicans give Obama everything he wants so he can finally take responsibility for a change.

    November 25, 2012 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  16. An objective observer

    Republicans always want something in return, no thought for what is good for the country...

    November 25, 2012 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  17. sdbluestem

    Hurray for Lindsey Graham! Today he announced he's willing to violate his pledge to Grover Norquist if the Dems violate their commitment to seniors, young people, the middle class and people working to get into the middle class.

    November 25, 2012 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  18. Namebigburnzie2000

    Why is it the Republicans care about free enterprize and not the working people entitlements in this country.Ronald Reagan raised taxes on the rich.They better do it or lose the House of Representatives in 2014.

    November 25, 2012 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  19. Namebigburnzie2000

    All I ever hear is a Republican won't raise taxes on the rich, wants to take away my social security,screw the elderly on Medicare.Why would anyone in there right mind vote for them.

    November 25, 2012 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  20. Name Independent Thinker

    Norquist, along with Karl Rove are becoming the most irrelevant men in US politics. Hopefully both parties will give and take, and we will find a solution to this fiscal crisis with no interference from the above mentioned.

    November 25, 2012 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  21. Ms. B

    McCain and Graham need to be voted out of office. with MIchele Bachman We should remember the GOP'S at election time 2014. It is obvious nothing is going to get done in Washington with the GOP's majority in the House. Please elect out of office South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Indiana,Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana GOP'S out of House to get something done for the middle class. And Banner need to be out of office along with,Cantor, and McConnell.They are more interested in keeping rich richer. This is not about racism to many Americans but people everywhere.
    VOTE DEM'S 2014 HOUSE AND SENATE FOR FAIRNESS AND CHANGE.

    November 25, 2012 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  22. Armand

    Boehner, Cantor and Norquist are going to try and bluff their way through this and it's nothing short of political suicide. The only leverage they have is more obstruction... unfortunately we'll have to wait until the next election cycle to vote them out. BTW...

    Remember back in the good old House Speaker Newt Gingrich days?

    When House Majority Leader Dick Armey, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, Boehner and Paxon presented Gingrich with an ultimatum: resign, or be voted out. All because they didn't think Gingrich was giving Clinton a hard enough time.

    This was when Gingrich created 11 million jobs, paid off $400 billion worth of debt and balanced the budget in four years and they reformed welfare.

    This was the last time the GOP accomplished anything constructive and Boehner squashed it.

    DeLay and his friends were all tied to Jack Abramoff and Abramoff laundered money for them all by screwing Indian Tribes.

    When Gingrich left he said, "I'm willing to lead but I'm not willing to preside over people who are cannibals."

    November 25, 2012 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  23. dan

    This is nice, but it is not the Senate I'm worried about – laws regarding tax revenues aren't subject to filibuster anyway (I do not believe) so they would pass the Senate anyway with the Dem majority – It is the House that is the big problem – Right? Now when I start to hear some House Republicans say they will budge – then that's good news – perhaps these declarations by Senators are to test the conservatives tollerance level – first.

    November 25, 2012 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  24. ObaWendon

    I do not believe in taking government handouts. I do believe that we pay taxes to help assist us in a catastrophic situation and without paying those taxes the funds would not be there to help (such as Sandy). However, I also believe that most Americans are hard working tax paying patriots and anyone saying less of them maybe should take another look at themselves. I myself am currently unemployed for the first time in my 60 years. My job was given to the bosses daughter who was younger and less experienced, not because I did anything wrong. So for the FIRST time in my life I am collecting unemployment and finding that employers are not interested in hiring people of my age. Every interview I have gotten for jobs I am qualified for has been given to a younger candidate. It makes me sad, but I am glad for them that they have been lucky to be hired. I do however blame a do nothing Congress who fight and battle along party lines and completely undermine the confidence employers should have about hiring. Hooray for this Congressman who is willing to move to comprimise. He is a rare Republican. Maybe more should follow his lead. Grover Norquist's pledge has done nothing for this country except cause pain and suffering for the middle class. I hope more politicians follow his lead and tell Grover Norquist and his pledge go jump off a cliff because it solves nothing good for our country.

    November 25, 2012 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  25. SDabby

    When I was in my early 20’s, I was recipient of grants totaling $30,000 over 5 years. By today’s standards, most Republicans would view it as a wasteful handout,
    However, I went on to become successful and have paid about $1 million in taxes – and I am not done yet.
    So was the $30,000 a handout? Or was it an investment?

    November 25, 2012 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
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