Graham says he'd break no-tax 'pledge'
November 25th, 2012
12:42 PM ET
7 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."

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

"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. SteveOfTX

    Rick McDaniel: That kind of sounds like a threat. Please re-read your comment and let us know if that is what you intended.

    November 25, 2012 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  2. SteveOfTX

    Social Security does not add one single penny to the deficit. (You can argue this all you want, but it doesn't). Why do we still talk about it as part of the plan to reduce the deficit? The only way it would reduce the deficit is if you took the current payroll taxes for SS and diverted it from SS to the deficit. I don't think that would go over very well.

    November 25, 2012 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  3. Randy, San Francisco

    Amazing that some GOP/Tea Party politicians are not seeking the approval of Limbaugh, Norquist, Hannity, Coulter , or Fox news before voting for a tax increase.

    November 25, 2012 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  4. wiseup

    wiseup; Typical repubs : entitlements must be on table but not the Bush tax cuts over 250,000.00 . instead lets look at loop holes and deductions.. I am offended the way repubs talk about entitlements like it is a government handout. my wife and I have paid into social security and medicarefor the 45 years of employment. therefore we feel we are entitled to those benefits.Some repubs And T-pubswant a 4 to 1 ratio of spending cuts to tax revenue. Lets see just how serious the repubs are about balancing budgetwith a fairer 1 to 1 ratio.

    November 25, 2012 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  5. rob

    our government isnt goin to fix anything....put a bandaid on it and just keep spending money and leave us We the People holdind the bill...

    November 25, 2012 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  6. Erinnnnn

    The Republicans will be to blaim, if the cliff is reached. There is no real excuse to extend tax cuts to the rich. The highly influential rich will claim otherwise, but they are just being greedy. Which is more important: making the rich richer, or avoiding disaster? It's time to focus on the larger picture and stop paying godly homage to the rich. However, I have to agree that spending cuts are a tenable exchange. Let's do this Congress!

    November 25, 2012 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  7. Kerry B

    It is about time such a basic negotiation option was brought back on the table and the tyranny of NONELECTED officials like Grover Norquist through absolutist "pledges". Calling it a pledge is an insult to the term, if not then qualifier "do or die" would have been needed as the fallout for not signing that pledge would have meant a loss in the next primary such a republican would have faced.

    November 25, 2012 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  8. David

    Why don't congress and the president stop fight over tax rates. Go to a flat tax of 10% on every dollar made by tax payers. 20% on Business.

    November 25, 2012 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  9. Chad

    i lol at republicans who complain about debt but are for 5 trillion in tax cuts and two trillion dollars in spending to the military fighting people who can barely purchase air planes.. let alone the drug war. these are all republican ideas. lets talk about waste

    November 25, 2012 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  10. Michael

    Hey the whole country will have a reduction in their standard of living. Not just wealthy people but people at the bottom too – many millions just hoping for enough food. If not through income tax – then through no income or even something called inflation. Compare a pound of cheese – the cost over 2 years. 9/11 was and is the ultimate scam – we will all be paying for generations.

    November 25, 2012 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  11. MartyGRMI

    @Ray E. (Georgia) – There are not two schools of thought. That is a false choice used to distract from the real issues here. Reducing our deficit is about determining winners and losers, end of story. Why you and people like you seem to choose the top .1% of Americans is beyond me.

    November 25, 2012 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  12. Christina

    May Grover Norquist go rot and take Karl Rove with him ! Listen up republicans! Its time to ditch the pledge in service to your country and the people who elected you. Do what's right for the country not what's comfortable or convenient for you.

    November 25, 2012 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  13. Eric the viking

    If the fiscal cliff is reached because the GOP refuses to abandon tax cuts for the rich, it will futher prove that the GOP is not a party interested in repesenting the majority of the American people. Is it more important to protect the country from looming disaster, or protect the greed of the rich? Does the GOP love the USA, or just a very small percentage of the USA?

    November 25, 2012 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  14. Name if big min

    Norquist talks big but remember, he didn't win anyone's vote. He doesn't govern, he just promotes his ideology from the bubble of his think tank. I support the president and also congressman graham. If republicans could nominate and elect leaders like him then they might gain back some respectability.

    November 25, 2012 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  15. MikeB

    Can we please elect Constitutional Representation in 2014. You know, the candidates that will actually honor their Oaths of Office.

    November 25, 2012 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  16. Michael

    These GOP folk have no loyalty – their oath means nothing. Norquist needs to recheck his contract – hold their feet to the fire – the sooner these lobbyists are run out of town – the better. And that goes for the Democrats too.

    November 25, 2012 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  17. Name jeff

    Rick mcdonald...just made a threat to the president.. You will be dealt with very soon.

    November 25, 2012 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  18. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Believe Republicans will deal only when you SEE Republicans deal! Until then, be skeptical and you won't be disappointed.

    November 25, 2012 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  19. Discernment


    Here are the issues with 'Limp' Lindsey’s proposal.

    Social Security (SocSec) does not add to the debt, so there is no need for Congress to touch SocSec. The funds in SocSec were put in the lockbox by employees who expect to retrieve it when they retire.

    Limp Lindsey said he would raise revenue by capping mortgage and charity deductions for which the middle-class is heavily dependent on to survive. But he said nothing about capping deductions or eliminating loopholes on the rich. Lindsey is a hypocrite.

    Even if Limp Lindsey had his way and capped all mortgage & charitable deductions used by the middle-class to lower their taxes, it still would not raise enough revenue to significantly impact the national debt. Lindsey is not being honest with the math. Congress has no choice but to raise the tax rates on the rich by 4%-to-5% to significantly lower the national debt within the next 5-years.

    November 25, 2012 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  20. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    The pledge was never to the state or district that the member of Congress represents. It was always to Grover Norquist. He was the one with the idea. There has never been any proof that anyone from any state has publiclly called for this kind of stupidity.

    November 25, 2012 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  21. Dizzyd

    I love how Repubs come on here thinking that Dems are all about getting ppl dependant on gov't handouts. Wrong! We DO work and are responsible for our lives. All we say is have a safety net for those struggling to make ends meet. Conservatives seem to think 'taking personal responsibility' really means 'you're on your own'.

    November 25, 2012 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  22. Thomas

    @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


    Are you suggesting Obama will spend more then GW . Who put two ten year wars on a credit card ?

    November 25, 2012 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  23. popseal

    Further proof that most of these people are dirt bags filling their own bank accounts with our money. They pass laws from which they are exempt (obamacare),they retire in grand style (not social security), worst of all, they never seem to tell the truth when it counts......dirt bags!

    November 25, 2012 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  24. napoleon

    McCain has to go. He does nothing for the business community in AZ and needs to go. All he does is complain about issues or perceived issues all of which he was voted in to resolve. We need new blood to solve the problems as the current senator obviously does not have the ability or intellect to resolve. Be gone!!

    November 25, 2012 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  25. bereasonable2

    Chambliss is a courageous man. I applaud him taking a pragmatic step toward resolving our problems.

    November 25, 2012 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13