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. Henry1234

    At last, GOP is reading the writing on the wall!

    November 25, 2012 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  2. Namebigburnzie2000

    Franklin Roosevelt took away monopoly empires and created equal competition so the little guy could compete and create a middle class.The GOP needs to understand Prescott to George Bushes plan on NAFTA and free trade is a failure and get there butts in gear.Raise taxes on the rich,get rid of corporate loop holes to get the deficit down.Get your act togethor or lose the House in 2014.

    November 25, 2012 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  3. ann

    Why do Republicans keep mentioning..........SS and Medicare..........We pay into that. Why not mention the Corporate welfare that goes on and cut that

    November 25, 2012 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  4. dc10

    To set the record straight, the Republicans are trying to negotiate a problem that the Democrats have signed into law. To reduce the run away debt under Obama, he signed off on the Supercommittee to come up with the formula as he always does in naming a committee to solve this or that without ever leading it (thus, this shows where deficit reduction was in Obama's priority list ....), and if it fails, there would be an automatic spending cuts which are straight across the board without any consideration.... Lo and behold, the Supercommittee failed and here we are.....

    November 25, 2012 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  5. Name

    Compromise..no hate ..love my conservative friends and family

    November 25, 2012 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  6. Namebigburnzie2000

    CNN pleaze do a documentary on Norquist and find out who is supporting him and why.What lobbyist has made him rich he really is a menace to our government.

    November 25, 2012 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  7. marty

    Social Security does NOT add to the nation's debt. It should not be on the table. Raise the FICA cap a little to extend its solvency, after all, milk and bread have been raised as well as all other living expenses. The mantra that, 'more revenue will lead to more wasteful spending' is a stupid, irrelevant talking point with no substance, uttered by robotic followers of yesteryear thinkers.

    November 25, 2012 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  8. mb

    It's funny that economist say we need more revenue, and some in the GOP are realizing that now. But some of these clowns posting here want to say Obama's got a spending problem, I think bush is the clown that got this mess started, and Obama's been trying to fix it. Talkabout wasteful spending what about this fighter jet that we have spent billions on, the military says they dont want it, but the republicans keep spending money on it. Why? Because its being built in boheners district, and he's worried about the job losses because of ending this program. Maybe its the GOP that has the spending problem?

    November 25, 2012 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  9. Larry L

    @Ray E. (Georgia)

    There are two schools of thought. One is take personal responsibility for your own life, the other is hand it to the government. Too many posters here want someone else to pay your way and run your life. Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. Like it or not, there is no free lunch out there. You get something here, you pay for it there. If no deal is done, you may pay with no job. The Union's at Hostess thought they were too big to fail. IThe Cold Hard Facts reared it's ugly head. At least the next 4 years are in the doldurums if Obama refuses to see the writing on the wall. Sorry but those are the facts.
    ------------------------------------------------
    I reviewed the posts and don't understand your comment " Too many posters here want someone else to pay your way and run your life.". Really? I see some people complaining about pledges to Grover Norquist, a few who realize how the GOP is heavily slanted to protect the wealthy only, and some who think we need a level playing field. Where are those posters who are "looking for a free lunch"? Your posts always have "facts" which are nothing more than your opinions or Fox News sound bites. Here's a fact for you – the Republican platform was rejected because it offered no actual facts – relying instead on "trust me" statements from Romney w/o any substance to his economic vision. You were rejected because you offered America social radicals and economic anarchists. America rejected those of you who fuel your hated with Fox News hate media. Those are facts.

    November 25, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  10. Dan5404

    Obama has spent less in new debt than any president in 50 years. He also has cut government employment. The debt you're harping on is primarily to pay on and pull us out of what was created by 8 years of GOP under Bush. You can say whatever you want, but Republicans secretly agree or they would have mentioned his name and invited him to their convention.
    They abandoned him just as they have Mitt Romney. Suddenly, moderation has been discovered by the right wing, because the election showed everyone that their way is a downhill path for the country.Extremism dies hard, but it is slowly being eroded, even among those who are still fighting the civil war in their minds.

    November 25, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  11. christopher reid

    perhaps if some of the electronis rubidews would let go of their hammerstones and freegrooves and the remax could reintroduce regenerates into the stratosphere to compensate for the frequent problems of terra firma. Make sense ............no ..............neither does what we hear from congresss.

    November 25, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  12. Chris

    Republicans keep saying that they'll close the loopholes and cap deductions... Only one question... Des that include Swiss and Cayman bank account loopholes??? Or just the ones that affect the middle class like the Mortgage deduction???

    November 25, 2012 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  13. wootdude

    Hey Rick McD., that almost sounds like a threat against the Pres. I'm sure the men in black will be visiting you soon. Get a clue dude, it's congress that controls the money, not the President. But hey, keep listening to Fox 'not the' News, and I am sure that they will declare that Romney is the President

    November 25, 2012 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  14. CBP

    Sen. Graham and others who signed these pledges have violated the trust of their constituents. There is the question of giving their allegiance to Mr. Norquist even while they have taken the oath of office of Senator or Representative of the USA. There is nothing in the Constitution which allows them to swear allegiance to a third party. They are sitting in Congress and refusing to give full attention to any legislation that may call for an increase in taxes. Sometimes there will be a need to raise taxes when legislation is needed for the good of the country. The fact that these men and women have signed an agreement with a man who has never been elected by the people to speak for the people is outrageous. They have given over their authority and power to someone outside of government.

    November 25, 2012 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  15. Delivery Man

    My personal belief is that Norquist himself is a traitor to this country in his relentness to work together for all of America and not his own self serving rose colored glasses beliefs.

    November 25, 2012 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  16. Ralph in Orange Park, FL

    How about making all the incoming members of the new Congress sign a pledge not to run for reelection if they cannot solve the budget crisis? Obama is on his second term and cannot run for reelection. Get the job done or get themselves gone.

    November 25, 2012 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  17. Entitlement

    If you contribute to something you're entire adult life, expecting it to be properly invested, and cashing it in, when you reach retirement, would this be called an entitlement? Calling SS an entitlement is pure propoganda. Social security should have a massive surplus, but our government had squandered, looted, and spent it all. So now it's just an entitlement. Thanks greed heads.

    November 25, 2012 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  18. norma jean

    Please state what the president is wasting all this money on!!!! You blame him while he's trying to get the country together but you are as spare with FACTS as was Romney...and look what it did to him!!!!!

    November 25, 2012 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  19. Iamnotfooled

    Grovers Pledge is silly. Are we in grade school? Thank Goodness some Republicans are beginning to see the light.

    November 25, 2012 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  20. christopher reid

    To get things started they have to do the Gary Cooper walk ,as seen in a movie he did about a cowboy and a girl whose fateher is considering running for president and Gary Cooper's charater has a few lines of advice fot those seeking government office in America.

    November 25, 2012 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  21. minto

    Why isn't corporate welfare and the defense budget on the table? Haven't we squeezed the poor and middle class enough? The "job creators" haven't been creating any jobs that actual families can live on. There are plenty of jobs that require you to get food stamps to feed your kids but there isn't much out there for more than that. In the last census, the median household income in America was about $50,000 a year. That means that half of the US households make more than that and half make less. How do you get the American dream with a modest house, a car, a couple of kids, and save for retirement on that? How can we grow the economy when people are so poor that they don't have any discretionary income to purchase consumer goods? How is forcing more people back into the workforce by cutting social security and medicare going to help when there aren't enough jobs as there is?

    November 25, 2012 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  22. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    Lies, hate, fear.

    November 25, 2012 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  23. Michael A Ruzicho

    We do not need reform of social security or medicare only improvements to these benefits deserved by the American people. I ask was it not these reforms and cuts that put us in debt, and created more debt and strain on the American people. When you cut or reform one thing it equals into affecting 20 things cost the American people more out of pocket in other areas. Don't be fooled America we need tough republicans and democrats put people in place when it comes to making life harder than what it should be.

    November 25, 2012 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  24. Hco

    Sen. Graham and others forgot just who sent them to Washington. Mr. Norquist did not vote in every state in the United States. These men and women showed no courage. They all feared Mr. Norquist and the TEA Party and swore their allegiance. They could be fiscally responsible without signing any contracts outside of the oath they have taken to be part of the Congress. We all allowed this to happen and then wonder why they cannot work together or even to make compromises or to cooperate. Shame on all of us for allowing our representatives to sign these contracts at all. shame on those who signed them.

    November 25, 2012 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  25. Michael A Ruzicho

    We do not need reform of social security or medicare only improvements to these benefits deserved by the American people. I ask was it not these reforms and cuts that put us in debt, and created more debt and strain on the American people. When you cut or reform one thing it equals into affecting 20 things costing the American people more out of pocket in other areas. Don't be fooled America we need tough republicans and democrats put people in place when it comes to making life harder than what it should be.

    November 25, 2012 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
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