On Sunday’s broadcast of ABC’s “This Week,” Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham told host George Stephanopoulos that he’d be willing to violate Americans for Tax Reform head Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge if it meant averting the looming fiscal cliff.
“When you’re $16 trillion in debt, the only pledge we should be making to each other to avoid becoming Greece,” Graham said. “Republicans should put revenue on the table. … Raising taxes will hurt job creation. So, I agree with Grover. We shouldn’t raise rates, but I think Grover is wrong when it comes to, ‘We can’t cap deductions and buy-down debt.’ What do you do with the money — you buy down debt and cut rates to create jobs. But I will violate the pledge, long story short, for the good of the country, only if Democrats will do entitlement reform.”
Most Republican lawmakers, including Graham, have signed Norquist’s decades-old pledge, which calls on members to “oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses … and oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.”
Graham also took issue with Norquist’s claim that going over the fiscal cliff and taking automatic sequestration spending cuts is an option.
“Well, what I would say to Grover Norquist is that the sequester destroys the United States military,” Graham said. “According to our own secretary of defense, it would be shooting ourselves in the head. You would have the smallest Army since 1940, the smallest Navy since 1915, the smallest Air Force in the history of the country.”
Other top Republicans, including New York Rep. Peter King and Georgia Sen. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, have also walked back their support of the anti-tax pledge in recent days.