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. NameGhost

    Tea party republicans are angry hypocritical self righteous know nothings who have held this country hostage while they tried to defeat the president. They did it for four years and failed. Now they either start to join hands and start to cooperate or they face extinction. The country will go on and leave without
    them. Personally, I have no use for them and think their selfish misguided temper tantrum was more unpatriotic than anything the president ever proposed.

    November 26, 2012 02:37 am at 2:37 am |
  2. Name Tadpole

    How about making everyone pay the same tax rate and get rid of all these loopholes in the tax code. Every week I pay FICA in my paycheck, isn't that for social security. I thought entitlement meant, something for nothing. Last time I checked, I was paying for my social security. How about getting rid of the politicians entitlements, such as lobbyists! The legal form of bribery!

    November 26, 2012 03:27 am at 3:27 am |
  3. Name john

    Who in their right mind gives grover whatever his last name that much power to over a replubican party.that party must be scared about something.how can the u.s. to borrow money from a communist country china and feel comfortable about bankrupting your country..I can go on but I find it too disgusting

    November 26, 2012 05:23 am at 5:23 am |
  4. Centrist

    Sounds like the way to make a deal with Democrats to cut spending includes a very modest tax increase. I'd say go for it.

    I'd vote for Graham.

    November 26, 2012 05:28 am at 5:28 am |
  5. John

    I don't think Republicans are in a position to demand anything of Democrats at this point.

    With the re-election of Obama, the new mandate is clear: Americans want the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes, and they want Social Security and Medicare to remain untouched. This is the new mandate.

    Republicans who hold hostage the middle class with some willy-nilly 'pledge' of taxation, are playing with fire in their political careers. With the devastating defeat of the GOP this last election, the majority of Americans already expect such pledges to be broken, certainly with nothing in exchange on the table.

    What is on the table for Republicans that refuse to cooperate, is a short lived political career. The message sent to *all* Republicans by voters this last election is, 'cooperate.. or else'

    November 26, 2012 05:34 am at 5:34 am |
  6. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    2014 comes quickly for the unhinged GOBP tea potty. Nov 6 was a loud wake up call.

    November 26, 2012 05:55 am at 5:55 am |
  7. Russ

    The more money Washington takes from the people the more it will be wasted. Washington is the mafia.

    November 26, 2012 06:06 am at 6:06 am |
  8. TommytheT

    yes tax away...no need to worry about the fact that last year, we spent $1.50 for every tax 1.00. I'm sure we can find a way to increase taxes in total 50%. And no need to worry about the unfunded promises of Social Security and Medicare that have no chance of being solvent as more baby boomers hit retirement age. Maybe at that point in time we will just find another way to increase taxes 50%...and why do I believe it will be from new taxes or tax rate increases and not an increase in the tax base?

    November 26, 2012 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  9. Name kuntz

    I can't believe our representatives sign a pledge to honor one person. Do the republicans ignore our Constition? They should represent their constituents...

    November 26, 2012 06:11 am at 6:11 am |
  10. pwr65

    Why don't we all do this together...why not take what revenue is needed and raise everyones taxes?...so that we all have skin in the game....I am not a one per center but i believe it's wrong for us to single out a certain class even if they are rich...kind of makes me feel like a hypocrite...like saying yes it is time for us to sacrifice, just not me

    November 26, 2012 06:16 am at 6:16 am |
  11. LakeRat1

    Norquist has been the dictator of the United States WAY too long! We can't have a great country by totally defunding the government.

    November 26, 2012 06:18 am at 6:18 am |
  12. t3chn0ph0b3

    Grover needs to crawl back under the bridge from whence he came. His precious pledge will go the way of the dodo, like it should have many years ago.

    November 26, 2012 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  13. Susan

    If Norquist want to run this country into the ground...he should be voted in and not do it with threats.

    November 26, 2012 06:23 am at 6:23 am |
  14. Marry

    @Ray E. (Georgia)
    There are two schools of thought….
    There is so much more than black and white! The idea of for OR against, yes OR no, left OR right is an insult to human ingenuity, responsibility, new developments, needs to adjust, opportunities…etc. The only thought that should present a base is good will and the honest evaluation of the country/world to find ways of positive, just, smart, practical, responsible solutions on every topic as it presents itself! The GOP has for a long time now ignored its responsibility to make a POSITOVE contribution to the country!

    November 26, 2012 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  15. Anonymous

    His responsibility is to work for the American people not for Norquist! The idea that he is negotiating his pledge to Norquist is an insult to democracy and the American people!

    November 26, 2012 06:28 am at 6:28 am |
  16. Anonymous

    I find it hilarious that we whine about the cost of healthcare etc when the most interresting debate would be how to lower the cost and still get equally good care. That's an extremely simple task that noone wants to deal with.

    "The cost" of something is always determined by someone. The cost could be zero if we wanted to. It's ridiculous to hear people whine about healthcare being expensive and the only way to fix it is to throw people off or reduce quality. Private companies will always do their best to rip off the government when it comes to pricing, and the government plays along because individual lawmakers and other government employees benefit from the system.

    That's where you start if you want to fix spending levels for things that actually benefit most people and are necessary for our society. You might not need to take more of peoples money, if you just use what you already have wisely.

    November 26, 2012 06:35 am at 6:35 am |
  17. Tom

    Read the Article Al, it says the Repubs aren't going to live in the past and are open to tax cuts. They just passed the ball to Obama to see if he will cut programs as his peace offering. Clever Repubs they aren't going to be standing in the way as we go off the cliff.

    November 26, 2012 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  18. Otis B Driftwood

    Congress – the very people who have spent us unto oblivion -now say we don't send them enough money and we need to send more. Isn't that a surprise. Never a discussion about cutting waste and fraud. Always taking more from the populace to throw into the cesspool of Washington....and so many posters here are OK with that. Unbelieveable.

    November 26, 2012 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  19. ken weavrr

    Give a corporation a tax break and they'll buy a machine to lower production costs, give a tax break to the middle class and they'll buy a new smartphone a new television and take his family to dinner. Which one will improve the economy?

    November 26, 2012 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  20. Washington Is Out Of Touch with reality

    Just as I thought, more taxes from our elected officials, a storm is brewing and a revolution is coming and the cause is from the idiots in Washington.

    November 26, 2012 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  21. Btea5503

    Hell he should be open to her appointment after he found out that those talking points were edited by the intelligence department, and not her. He acted like she was one of those terorrist carrying a RPG!

    November 26, 2012 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  22. Tim

    If Congress wants to cut Social Security and Medicare/Medicade then they should also cut their pensions and health coverage by the same amounts, they should share the sacrifice. Why should the 99% be the only ones to take the cuts.

    November 26, 2012 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  23. cestlavie3

    A Senator willing to break a pledge? Are you serious?

    November 26, 2012 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  24. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Perhaps the GOP and their rich friends should pick up the $5 trillion Iraq/Afghan price tag and then we would be back on the road to fiscal stability and domestic growth.

    November 26, 2012 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  25. Don

    This is a true profile in courage. Possibly the GOP's last statesman.

    November 26, 2012 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
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