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. Jack

    That is why you won't make it past your next primary unless you have a D by your name.

    I live in SC, we are done with you as a RINO.

    November 25, 2012 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  2. Jack

    Oh yeah CNN, he isn't a leading anything; let alone Republican.

    November 25, 2012 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  3. Free Man in the Republic of Texas

    Graham says he'd break no-tax 'pledge'...
    Just like OBAMA. His lips were moving...

    November 25, 2012 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  4. America1st

    Really!!! Guess what, in 29 days, REVENUE INCREASES back to the CLINTON TAX RATES ARE THE LAW OF THE LAND. Get over it. The rich may actually have to pay something. Romney paying 13% to my 21% is a national joke. George Bush's tax policy was an economic fiasco and NOW, FINALLY, it's coming to an end.

    November 25, 2012 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  5. America1st

    Let the Bush tax code written by Washington DC lobbyists expire. Who cares. All it did was allow a guy like Romney who was a corporate raider, OUTSOURCER to communists to pay 13% to my 21%. GOOD RIDDANCE. Bring back the FAIR Clinton tax rates. What's wrong with fiscal solvency, fairness, and JOB GROWTH. Bush' tax plan created NONE, NADA, ZERO jobs here in America and paved the way to send countless American jobs to Communist China.

    November 25, 2012 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  6. Liz the First

    Any senator or rep who signed this pledge should be voted out of office. they promised to support the country when they were elected, not to cowtow to this madman. norquist should be exiled to Somalia so he can experience what it's like to live in a country with no functioning government. if he's capable of learning anything, he'd be begging to come home and pay his taxes. the choce between left and right isn't between big government and small government, it's between good government and non-functioning government. the bush years and the stonewalling of the recovery prove this beyond a shadow of a doubt. people who hate government shouldn't BE in government. when will voters learn that?

    November 25, 2012 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  7. Stanley

    We all know that some of the rich became rich through hard work and some without. However, since it is difficult to separate them, taxing them is like punishing them for working hard. Yes we may have to increase taxes but there should be a mamoth effort to cut spending. There are many in our nation who would like to get everything free with absolutely no effort and that attitude is ever increasing when Democrats are in power. I am not here pointing at those who have paid their fair share working until retirement. None of the able bodied individuals, and the irresponsible ones e.g. promiscuous life – many children – no income etc. should be given a free ride. Otherwise we could just keep increasing the taxes for ever – just what the Democrats want to do. The Republicans are not right either in holding on to their no tax stand.

    November 25, 2012 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  8. Deb

    Lift the salary cap on SS and it will be solvent for at least 75 years. Why does all the pain have to come from the poor and middle-class? The rich and corporations benefited disproportionately under the Bush tax cuts, lets see them pay some of that back.

    November 25, 2012 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  9. DENNA

    LOL I am just loving watching the GOP in their death throws. The American public gave them the cold hard slap of reality. I love this country. It was nice to see, just once, right win out. The voters spoke and right prevailed. Yes, it is good to be an American.

    November 25, 2012 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  10. BB

    These Republican legislators must be commended for their pragmatism

    November 25, 2012 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  11. Robert

    Thank goodness logic is starting to enter into this. "Compromise" is not a curse word. Sticking with their tax cult has not only hurt the Republicans, but it has hurt this country.

    November 25, 2012 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  12. vs101

    Considering to renege on an incredibly stupid pledge is not courage. T party republicans are simply a bunch of thugs that need to be ejected put of office. This country has had enough of this invasion of the stupid.

    November 25, 2012 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  13. MikeTexoma

    C'mon Rick. C'mon Ray. The one thing that never changes is change. Our world is in a constant state of flux. You do not have to change with every change in the breeze, but when the winds blow If you cannot or will not make adjustments you get left behind.

    There was a silly woman on Meet the Press tbis morning, Ms. Fiona, I believe. She kept saying the president has no plan, that raising taxes on the rich is not a plan. She must be deaf. The president spent the entire election talking about his goal of rebuilding the American middle class. That is a big plan. That is a great plan. Increasing revenue is only a first step. Prioritizing expenditures and making government more efficient is another. Reducing spending is another. An infrastructure bank is another. Education and training is another.

    If you will not listen you get left behind. If you will ot understand you get left behind. if you cannot change you become chaff of the mill of change.

    November 25, 2012 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  14. n

    All these failed republicans still around voicing their rejected two cents? Are they still not wanting to put back into what they have pillaged, plundered and looted for the last twelve of so years and then not paying for the damage that they caused to this great nation? Losers, the lot of them!

    November 25, 2012 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  15. REPUBS 4 OBAMA

    Soooo...after a downgrade 4 years of kicking and screaming...the Repubs are FINALLY ready to get down to the business of raising taxes on the rich...Thank you! Better late than never I guess they got the hint

    November 25, 2012 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  16. Brian

    Wasn't a similar deal of tax hikes and spending cuts made in the '80s? The tax hikes happened easily but the spending cuts never materialized.

    November 25, 2012 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  17. Justus

    FINALLY! The age of hyped polarized, hyper partisan government is seeing the beginning of its end. Tea Partiers who say NOTHING of value – Palin, Perry, Cain, Bachmann, Santorum, Brown, the like – are finally hearing the warning bell that will send them packing, making way for true intelligent moderates like Jon Huntsman, Jr. to flood our government and see REAL change happen in America.

    November 25, 2012 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  18. plain&simple

    If you cut spending and increase revenue how does that equate to wanting government to run your life,or not take personal responsibility? It doesn't! It helps us pay for our services. Like medical care for our veterans, social security, roads,bridges,schools. No one is free from responsibility in a democracy.

    November 25, 2012 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  19. One L

    Glad to see more Repubs are freeing themselves of Norquist's grip – strength in numbers!!! What is he going to do, get rid of everyone? He's fighting back, telling them this is a conversation they need to have w/the people – well it should be – so far, it's only been with you Norquist, you idot!!! Tell the people the truth!!!

    November 25, 2012 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  20. maria

    Both sides need to work together for all people. If there r cut for ENTITLEMENTS it should be there entiltements. We work everyd day for our benefits. Look at the amount of days they have off w pay and no one to monitor their work attendance. Cuts should start at the top.

    November 25, 2012 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  21. Namerandy

    I thought that was mitts idea
    That worked out really well for him

    November 25, 2012 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  22. liss

    I'd like to see all of us pay the real price for products we consume and services we use (cut subsidies to big businesses and do not offset the difference between living wages and earned wages). Then I suspect the ones looking down on 'moochers' would realize how much they actually rely on tax money paid directly or indirectly to big businesses.

    November 25, 2012 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  23. Marie MD

    Is ms. lindsay saying that grover the traitor should be listened to by the rethugs in congress? Can he explain why? Jus wondering why a lobbyist has the tea baggers ad the rethugs under his thumb? I think we the people would like to know since they are doing everything possible to continue to sink the country!

    November 25, 2012 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  24. Clyde

    And the very first entitlement programs that should be cut are all retirement and medical benefits for members of congress. Next we can give them all huge pay cuts, dropping their salaries to between $30,000 and $60,000 per year. Further, they should get no more than 14 sick days and 14 vacation days a year. This would bring this bunch of government moochers in line with the rest of working class Americans and perhaps encourage them to leave office after a couple of terms . They may see things in a different light if they are forced to become productive Americans instead of being lifelong pigs at the public trough. And, finally, they should be prohibited fromserving as lobbyists for 10 years after they leave office and prohibited from speaking engagements paid with public funds.

    November 25, 2012 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  25. Tony

    Rick McDaniel, if the Bush tax cuts expire the deficits will drop well below 1 trillion. If not for the Bush tax cuts, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the doc fix and the recession we would not have a deficit at all. Yes, Republicans, it is still Bush's fault.

    November 25, 2012 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
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