Another GOP Senator Shows Willingness To Abandon Norquist Tax Pledge

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

Less than a week after Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R) signaled a willingness to abandon the radical anti-tax pledge authored by Grover Norquist that has brought previous debt negotiations to a standstill, another prominent Republican has joined him.

Asked last week if Norquist would hold his support for new revenues against him, Chambliss said, “I don’t worry about that because I care too much about my country. I care a lot more about it than I do Grover Norquist.” South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham (R) seemed to echo that sentiment today, saying on ABC’s This Week that he could conceivably abandon the pledge as part of a deal to avoid going over the so-called “fiscal cliff,” the package of spending cuts and tax increases set to take effect at the end of the year:

GEORGE STEPHONOPOLOUS (HOST): In the end, Norquist said that you’re not going to go through with this promise to raise revenues, because, quote, you like being a senator, your response?

GRAHAM: I love being a senator and i want to be a senator that matters for the state of South Carolina and the country. When you’re $16 trillion in debt, the only pledge we should be making to each other is to avoid becoming Greece, and Republicans should put revenue on the table. We’re this far in debt. We don’t generate enough revenue. Capping deductions will help generate revenues. Raising tax rates will hurt job creation. I agree with Grover that we shouldn’t raise rates, but I think Grover is wrong when it comes to we can’t cap deductions. […] I will violate the pledge, long story short for the good of the country, only if Democrats will do entitlement reforms.

Norquist is clinging to the support he does have, even as the pledge wreaked havoc on the GOP’s candidates in the November elections. Sixteen Republican incumbent Republicans and one incumbent senator who signed the pledge lost re-election, and a total of 56 House members or candidates and 24 senators or candidates lost. As a result, a growing number are abandoning the pledge.

Still, Graham’s insistence on entitlement reforms ignores that Democrats have already made significant changes to Medicare (as part of the Affordable Care Act) and have proposed reforms to Social Security, even though the program is not in need of an immediate fix. And his claims that raising tax rates will kill jobs is tenuous, if oft-used. Reports from the Congressional Research Service and the Congressional Budget Office, both non-partisan agencies, have shown that allowing the expiration of the high-income Bush tax cuts would have little impact on economic growth.