Graham says he'd break no-tax 'pledge'
November 25th, 2012
12:42 PM ET
8 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."

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- 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. Ron

    How come Republicans ALWAYS accuse Democrats of spending money like water, yet under the Democrats the economy historically prospers, while under Republicans, the debt ALWAYS soars? Most recently witness our resurgence under Clinton, after years of Republican excess. The first time we had a surplus, in about 30 years. Bush gets in, the surplus is gone, and not just our economy, but the worlds economy tanks. Obama gets in, and slowing we claw our way out of the crater Bush left us in. It was quite clear at election time, that the Republicans wanted to snatch the White House, so that they could claim any credit for the turnaround Obama started. And don't give me any nonsense about Obama running up the deficit. If your house is cratered, it WILL take lots of time & money to rebuild, as surely as it takes time & money to rebuild what mad king George left of our economy. Go ahead flame this post, this last election says what most Americans believe, and it wasn't in twoface & his sidekick the joker.

    November 26, 2012 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  2. Thomas

    Sen. Lindsey Graham needs to go , all he supports are wars and inflated military spending.

    Another GW Bush yes man .

    November 26, 2012 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  3. rs

    This represents a real-life watershed moment for the GOP. If they choose to take it. Right now, they have the opportunity to show who it is they really support. Their most recent Presidential candidate was an unabashed plutocrat- and it cost them the race, plus seats in the House and Senate. The GOP can "stay the course" and remain in the pocket of one lobbyist who represents the richest in America, or; they can side with the American people and reign in their 10 years of insane and wasteful spending- much of it on tax breaks for people who don't need them, or produce anything in the American economy.

    My challenge to you all:
    Write your Congress persons today- demand they renounce Mr. Norquist's pledge and to work across the aisle for the betterment of all Americans.

    November 26, 2012 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  4. Malory Archer

    Elected officials shouldn't sign anti-tax pledges at the bidding of an individual whose major source of income is inherited wealth.

    November 26, 2012 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  5. Realist

    The Norquist pledge is patently anti-american as are all who sign it

    November 26, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  6. Dave

    Rep. King's point about the timeframe is very well said. The historical tie-in (war with Japan) really drives it home.

    November 26, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  7. japester

    i think all business should sign a pledge not to lay off employees... Oh wait, that would just be silly wouldn't it...

    November 26, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  8. Hugh Jass

    The guy's trying to get his credibility back after being duped by FOX into howling about Benghazi. Yes, Lindsay, we don't always tell the public all we know. Surprised? At your age, you ought to know that. They are all going to have to dump Norquist and his stupid libertarian "starve the government" ideas before he sinks their boat, so he's just going to try to grab headlines by being first.

    November 26, 2012 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  9. NickAnast

    The Republicans in Congress have to accept 4 things:

    1) They lost the election. And they lost to a president and a Democratic party that openly campaigned on raising tax rates for the wealthiest 2% of Americans.

    2) The American people support raising tax rates on the wealthiest 2% of Americans. A full 60% of voters told exit pollers they wanted the Bush tax cuts to expire on those who make more than $250,000 per year.

    3) Most Democrats in Congress - and about 80% of the American people - oppose any cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

    4) If the country goes off the fiscal cliff, most Americans will blame the GOP.

    November 26, 2012 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  10. Honestly?

    @ Clyde–

    I like the way you think. The congress/senate is paid way too much to do way too little. It seems like every time I turn around they're taking some kind of break for this or that. You're very generous w/ their vacation/sick time. I worked at a company where if you had to stay home sick, you used a 'vacation' day. They would like that even less.

    November 26, 2012 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  11. Pete

    Republicans,Democrates signing any pledge is an act of treason and should be handled that way.It goes against the Constitution and it goes against the constituents that put them there,the voter.You reps work for America not an anti tax rebel who's own idol in Reagan raised taxes 11 times and cut out many deductions .Reagan was also quilty of stealing from SocialSecurity to balance the budget in the "80s if you never knew as well as Nixon so to all you sanctumonious republicans your crookedness has been going on for years but never been punished!!So to Graham and all who want their jobs you'd better eat your pledge to Norquists and get working if you want a job after midterms because there's more of us wanting you obstructionistic republicans out than teapartiers that want you in,the choice is yours,work for America or get out!!

    November 26, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  12. Vinusa

    Republicans: you lost! Deal with it!

    November 26, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  13. Sniffit

    Good for him. The only manner in which people who signed that pledge in the first place should be "breaking" it is by resigning their position in Congress. Period. You go to Congress to use information, facts, historical record, evidence, expert opinions and a thoroughly objective understanding of the issues to make decisions in the best interests of the American public...NOT to promote and defend ideological absolutisms from having to bend or yield to the demands of reality. Anyone who signed that pledge shoudl be excuses, no rationalizations, no justifications and no apologies are acceptable.

    November 26, 2012 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  14. Maria balderas

    Most of the rich people can live up to at least 100 years old because clearly they do have the money for doctor visits and such but the people who work day by day and are barely making it well those people do die much earlier so do thy get their benefits or retirement? That's why they wanna raise it to seventy.

    November 26, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  15. Sniffit

    "Norquist says he'll go after pledge-breakers"

    Not to worry...plenty will be going after YOU, Grovey, if the attempt to make a fiscal cliff deal is thwarted by your mindless pledge. Prepare yourself.

    November 26, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  16. Grahame Rhodes

    Norquist can go and live on Gilligan's island along with Romney and Santorum and Bachman and Ryan and all the other stupid fringe GOP Tea Party losers. They will be happy there while the rest of us get on with our lives without them.
    Oh Happy Day

    November 26, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  17. Laurie in Spokane

    Is this finally a Republican willing to be a statesman rather than just a puppet to Norquist? Of course, he wants something in return, but compromise is after all, the name of the political game.

    November 26, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  18. ThinkAgain: All of the GOP's policies are PROVEN FAILURES

    @Sniffit: "Anyone who signed that pledge shoudl be excuses, no rationalizations, no justifications and no apologies are acceptable."

    Personally, I think it's treason to put your loyalty to a person ahead of your sworn duty to the Constitution. It's especially laughable when you consider how all these Repub yahoos love to say that President Obama is a
    "dictator" and George Soros "controls" the Democratic Party when so obvious it's Grover they are talking about.

    November 26, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  19. Sal

    We know Republicans will bend but that self rightous louse Harry Reid is not going to cut spending and we aren't going anywhere but off the cliff. The pain is going to roll down hill.

    November 26, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  20. An Observer

    Lindsey, you and your republican cohorts lost! You don't get to dictate the terms of the fiscal curb deal. Live with it!

    November 26, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  21. Chris

    It's about time! Once this is done with, I'd like to see Congress pass a law that makes all pledges to anything other than the Constitution of the United States a crime of treason and pushing such a pledge be deemed sedition.

    November 26, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  22. rs

    The reason the GOP needs to dump Mr. Norquist is that he is the proof that the GOP was the party of the 1%, and of fiscal obstruction- unless of course, they wish to continue losing elections.

    November 26, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  23. Wake up People!

    I'm with Sniffit. Anyone that signed the pledge should GO!

    November 26, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  24. Sniffit

    "We know Republicans will bend"

    HAHAHAHAAHA. Really? After the past 6 years of obstruction, fililbuster records, secret hold records, record-setting nomination delays, etc? We "know" the GOPers/Teatrolls will bend? Only bending I think we "know" they do is to get under CEOs' desks. It certainly isn't to compromise and enact sane fiscal policies.

    November 26, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  25. Hugh Jass

    Meanwhile, Grampaw McCain says he didn't really mean all those things he said about Susan Rice. He was just carried away by the lynch-mob mentality and 'everyone else is saying it' fever. Proves he's no leader, just a fervent follower. Everywhere I look, I see a Republican having a snit about the election. Move to Canada, losers. See how you like it there.

    November 26, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
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