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. rvoter

    Lets taxes the rich and give it to the government we know how good they are at managing things. And let's not blame the one that live off welfare all there lives I know that has nothing to do with waste. It is total impossible never to have a job in your live but complain the rich has to much. So tax away for a new America dream

    November 25, 2012 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  2. jason

    this 'more revenue will result in more wasteful spending' thing is funny, considering republicans control the house. So, yes, I agree. More revenue would not be used by republicans to pay down the debt – instead, they would truck all the money to defense contractors and oil companies.

    November 25, 2012 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  3. jeff

    Waiting for a Democrat budget ! Really? McDaniel writes, " as long as he is in office. Which just might be for the rest of his life", Pathetic. Romney didn't have any answers and he never even got in office. Racist threats.
    The last time that we had a surplus was under a Democrat named Clinton. Exactly how are the Republicans working with this President.

    November 25, 2012 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  4. thatgrlinaz

    Watch out. This guy is a bigger con artist and liar than John McCain. Sadly McCain's mental state is getting worse. Hmmm, looks like early Alzieheimer's or dementia. His erratic behavior is much worse lately. He now acts like some of my brin injury veterans I treat at the VA every day. Both tese guys are DANGEROUS I positions of any power. Sad nbut true and they both should retire – real fast too.

    November 25, 2012 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  5. J.V.Hodgson

    Graham and Chambliss are beginning to sound sort of realistic. The peoblem is that cutting tax allowances even with caps yields much less than a rate increase. QED not viable. what chambliss and Graham do not add specifically is that they like Boehner are aiming at PPACA again! Obama needs to Nip that one in the bud via a veto threat, along with anything not giving arate increase ge campaigned and won on BYE GROVER and good riddance.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    November 25, 2012 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  6. NameKen

    Allow the tax breaks to expire for the rich

    November 25, 2012 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  7. BIG MAN

    about time rational thinking enters the GOP mindeset.. Grover's pledge is holding the country hostage

    November 25, 2012 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  8. C Anderson

    Obama is a strong leader, head and shoulder above those clowns.

    November 25, 2012 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  9. mgrgurich

    We need to end coroporate welfare. They whine about high corporate taxes when the fact is we only collected 237 billion in corporate taxes in 2011 vs 2 trillion in income and payroll taxes. They whine about a 35% rate when we actually collect 237 billion on 1.7 trillion in profits= 13.9% ENDING THE CORPORATE LOOPHOLES AND SUBSIDIES WILL CUT THE DEFICIT BY 595 BILLION A YEAR

    November 25, 2012 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  10. Josh

    And if you agreed to that pledge 20 years ago you should no longer be in congress! It is about time they set term limits as well!

    November 25, 2012 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  11. TEX

    Who will Obamanure blame for the last four years and the mess we are in now, Bush.

    November 25, 2012 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  12. Doggbreath

    Lindsey? Saxby? What in the living Christ kind of first names names are those for men? I grew up with exotically-named young men like "Tom" and "Ricky". The names of these guys, including "Mitt" should be a good indication of just how well they can relate to the median population of the USA.

    November 25, 2012 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  13. LegalizeReason

    The Oath of Office of Members of Congress is, S FOLLOWS:

    I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

    HOW CAN MEMBERS OF CONGRESS WHO HAVE SIGNED A PLEDGE WITH A LOBBYIST "BEAR TRUE FAITH AND ALLEGIANCE" TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES?

    November 25, 2012 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  14. DEM Winners

    Republicans now have no backbone. Obama is re-elected for a second term, contrary to Republicans vow. The Republicans all along failed to realize they were on the wrong side of history – far to the right and engulfed by the rifht wing Lambour. The American people did not buy Ronmey's lies. They lost. We now k now who's telling the truth.

    November 26, 2012 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  15. 66Biker

    All politicians need to remember what they swore to do when they took office. Serve the country. Not themselves, not their richy rich friends. The Country. I bet they could balance the budget and pay down the debt with a few common sense changes, such as...

    1: Eliminate tax loopholes. Just get rid of them across the board.
    2: Get rid of all current individual and business tax brackets and replace them with two simple ones. Individuals pay 10% federal tax on every dollar they make, and businesses pay 15% federal tax on every dollar they make.
    3: Set up a quarter of one cent federal sales tax on all goods and services except food, and use half of it to pay down the national debt and the other half to shore up the Social Security and Medicare trust fund.
    4: Stop allowing people on food stamps to buy junk food like potato chips, ice cream, soft drinks, etc. It's supposed to be for healthy food, not food that will eventually kill you.
    5: Reduce the federal fleet of motor vehicles by 25% to 30%.

    And that is just a few things that popped into my head as I typed this...

    November 26, 2012 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  16. rob

    Why does members of Congress need permission or approval from one single citizen ..that is absurd.

    November 26, 2012 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  17. Hugh Mann

    Smart move, politically, but in truth will he keep his own pledge to "work together"? Very doubtful.
    Congress needs to eliminate "the aisle" and sit alphabetically from now on....

    November 26, 2012 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  18. Don W.

    I hope everyone in Congress will get serious without pointing fingers; do the real work of those that elected you. Congress can get better approval ratings if they stop nonsense that got many of them booted from office.

    November 26, 2012 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  19. Rick (Boca)

    Why do republicans have no upper lip?

    November 26, 2012 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  20. alex

    Let's be honest here... Obama is the scapegoat for congress. Nothing Obama wants to do is passed... plain and simple. He had his first term bogged down with issues from the previous 2 terms. Republicans deregulated the banks and other industries in the 80's... and bush was warned by many economists that the housing market was a sham. And guess what?...it was. Bank of America and other banks got so big that they literally helped grow a market with no real equity. S & p rated the mortgage backed securities as AAA when they wernet, companies bought them and then got no money because the loans were crap. All because the Republicans repealed the glass steal act and helped make the banks as horrible as they were before FDR helped regulate them. So you can't blame Obama for spending... you can't blame him for anything, cause the republicans 20-25 years ago made mistakes that hurt us now

    November 26, 2012 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  21. tadesse

    all of the republicans who signed the pledge will be thrown out in 2014 election. this must be the american people pledge.

    November 26, 2012 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  22. Daniel

    I would like the talk about SSI (Social Security Insurance) being an 'entitlement' when, in fact, it is 'self-funded' by payroll taxes and doesn't take a dime out of any other tax structure to stop. It is NOT an 'entitlement' other than the fact that I am 'entitled' to my own savings and investment gains that I invested in. Medicare and Medicaid have to be carefully scrutinized in integration with health care (and particularly health care insurance) reform. Banking reform needs to be given real teeth. So far all the bluster and bills passed have had pretty much ZERO real world application to date. Why can't we discuss creating a modern day version of 'Glass/Steagal'? In fact, take it one step further, and make any bank that takes payroll deposits and gives personal loans including mortgage, auto loans, and credit cards be treated as a 'utility' like gas, electric, and water? Isn't 'residential banking' just as crucial to modern life as those other utilities? So... why doesn't that work? Put the regulatory controls underneath the various state and federal utility commissions. Can someone please explain why that would NOT work? Oh yes, don't get me wrong, the industry would fight it tooth and nail as it would drastically cut into profits, but why is that a bad thing for the WHOLE economy? I realize those investors and that sector; which already takes an egregious amount of GDP into very few hands, would take a hit, but overall? Better stability, no more 'too big to fail' because failure becomes much more difficult to accomplish. Do the same thing with Fannie and Freddie and go back to the dollar standing for a service or good instead of just 'money being made on money' in some insane high-stakes version of the shell game. Just my two cents on the matter of course.

    November 26, 2012 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  23. wmms

    What? Republicans coming to their senses?

    November 26, 2012 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  24. Geordie

    So where is Obama , he doesn't have a plan just the same old thing to raise taxes on the rich.
    That's fine but there has to be more than that , we need an economic strategy , debt reduction , job creation and paying down the debt.
    Get to work , Mr. President , you promised a lot , now put it into action.

    November 26, 2012 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
  25. jrm03063

    A couple of Republicans seem to have received the message from the recent elections. Adios baggies! Remaining members of the GOP won't be keeping Grover on speed-dial either!

    November 26, 2012 02:32 am at 2:32 am |
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