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

    Thank you very much Mr. Lindsey, but, I don't think you paid attention to President Obama during his campaign. He said he would not agree to raise taxes or cuts on the backs of the middle class. He said the rich has a responsibility in this matter. Sadly, you miss this point. You still want to cut medicare and social security. That was not the mandate of the people, or, the reason for the results of the election. Keep your vote.....let the Bush tax cuts expire. Who cares. Dig a deeper hole with the public. Republicans are at their lowest level now. Let's see how low they can go!

    November 25, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  2. Canuck

    Here's a radical idea – how about reducing defence spending instead of going after social security???

    November 25, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  3. Martha in CF

    graham is nothing but a blow bag, full of hot air and that is all. norquist is done anyway come the new year.

    November 25, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  4. dc10

    If anyone can say any of the current tax, Medicare, or Social Security systems are not broken and, thus, don't need to be fixed, then I will hear their arguments. However, if those are all broken, then they should all be on the table.... and I agree with Senator Graham.

    If someone acknowledges that any one of those are broken but still don't need to be fixed, then I would say those people are greedy enough to reap the current benefits and immoral enough to pass the ticking bag to their children.

    November 25, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  5. Randy, San Francisco

    Norquist's influence on the GOP/Tea Party has been detrimental to the governing process. Washington gridlock will ease as more politicians renounce their rigid and irrational stance on taxes.

    November 25, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  6. John.nosetip

    Social security has nothing to do with debt. Social Security has a 2.6 trillion dollar surplus and hasn't had a deficit year since 1984. It would be nice if the corporate press explained this to people. Politicians still speak in unified budget terms and the corporate press happily follows along with this deception.

    November 25, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  7. pk

    The American people have spoken. Now the GOP is scrambling like rats to avoid the wrath of the country. Grover Norquist is nothing but a typical lunatic and its nice to see his strangle-hold diminished by the ecelction results. GO AMERICA!

    November 25, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  8. Rick McDaniel

    Giving Obama more revenue will accomplish nothing.

    He will simply squander new wasteful spending.

    Obama will never get below 1 trillion in spending, per yr, as long as he is in office. Which just might be for the rest of his life.

    November 25, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  9. corina

    While im a democrat, i have to give some of the republicans credit for standing up to some of these extreme lobbyists. Hopefully these republicans that are speaking out against norquist can moderate some of the more hostile members of congress. Im also keeping fingers crossed that this is not just talk and they actually break the gridlock in congress.

    November 25, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  10. McShannon

    A pledge to uphold our constitution and to conduct themselves for the preservation of unity that benefits all citizens of the USA is what we should expect Mr. Norquist not some half-wit pledge that isn't relevant to responsible legislation.

    November 25, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  11. 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.

    November 25, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  12. al

    just like a republican always living in the past of the rich for the rich

    November 25, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  13. DaveF

    GOP=good old putz Grover should be in jail along with Ralph Reed for their money laundering. The only one who went to jali was Abramoff. I alos agree with the guy who sail "cut their perks"

    November 25, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  14. Surfer George

    Republicans can hear the siren's call coming from the bottom of the REAL fiscal cliff it's saying "Tax cuts for the rich is an "E" ticket home for any/EVERY Congressperson.
    The TEAPublicans will soon explode in a vapid ball of indignant rage as more and more Republicans TRY to keep their jobs.

    They are SO insincere that the "Thinking Class" is going to send them home anyway.

    November 25, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  15. Mike

    Fix them by removing the cap on SSI. Tax carried interest like income. Raise taxes on dividends. Cut defense spending. Start investing in our country. Education, infrastructure, regulation on the banks and hedge funds. It is time for the wealthiest that have found ways to transfer more and more of the economic gains to fewer and fewer at the top to help their country and the middle class. This time we grow from the base and middle to build a strong foundation tour economy. No more asset bubbles with the rich coming out further ahead while us workers are left holding the bag.

    November 25, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  16. daniel

    All Americans want sensible approach to tackle our national debt. I like the way Republicans are working with the President. Get rid off Tea party knuckle heads from any political involvements...they're still in the 50s and 60s set of mind.

    November 25, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  17. Jimmy

    Stooges all around. More revenue will lead to more wasteful spending. Still waiting for a dem budget.........

    November 25, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  18. texasnotea

    It's sad that it takes an election to wake up the republicans in congress to common sense.

    November 25, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  19. Ram Narayanan

    Who the heck is this Grover Norquist? Why do the stupid Republicans think he is some Messiah here to save the country? He was irrelevant then, irrelevant now, and irrelevant for ever. Please don't stoke his ego, he's just another Trump.

    November 25, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  20. David lian

    If the goverment didn't take tax then how will they provide us (people) with our need of protection?

    November 25, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  21. plantain_11

    RayE from Georgia, I wholeheartedly disagree with your assertion that there are "two schools of thought", and that people either take responsibility for their own lives or leave it up to the government. That kind of gross oversimplification doesn't solve any problems, nor does it bring people together. The truth is, we live in a complex world, with complex problems.Trying to solve them with a simplistic mindset will yield negative results.

    November 25, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  22. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    For all those who talk about wasteful spending, please remember that all spending bills start in the house. They are the ones who decide on where to buy the $10,000 toilet seats and $500 hammers, not the POTUS. As for a budget, the House rejected every budget sent by the President, but did not come up with one of their own, except for Ryan's.

    November 25, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  23. John

    Good to see Norquist's undue and unwarranted influence crashing down around him.

    No elected official of the United States government should be making a pledge to any special interest group or individual.

    November 25, 2012 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  24. mikithinks

    .The pledge to a non-elected power broker certainly does not compare to the pledge to serve the citizens and the country. It is it like serving God and mamon. I salute the courage of the Republicans who have woke to the year 2012 and the real facts of the current budget problems.

    November 25, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  25. NameSharon d

    It's about time Grover has been called out for the behind the scene bully he is. Grover, limbaugh, beck act as if they were voted into their positions of chief "hate mongers". They have made everything so much worse. This country is full of hate instead of patriotism we remember from the past. We r no longer a civilized society, nor a fair one. Greed and power is what they want. We are headed toward a plutocracy, wherein a few rich powerful individuals rule (Grover). The one thing that truly scares me is why the media has been so mum about Grover? Are we hearing only what they want us to hear?

    November 25, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
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