Some Top Republicans Are Breaking With Grover Norquist On New Revenues

Lindsey Graham John McCain

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Add Republicans Lindsey Graham, John McCain and Peter King to the list of top party members in Congress who are increasingly breaking with conservative Grover Norquist’s “Taxpayer Protection Pledge.”All three said on Sunday talk shows that they are willing to add more tax revenues as part of a deal to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff” in January, a position that is becoming commonplace among Republicans despite the fact that it would violate Norquist’s pledge to not raise taxes.

It’s important to note that this isn’t exactly a new position within the Republican Party. The first day after the election, House Speaker John Boehner said he was willing to accept more revenues as part of a deal. And no Republicans have been willing to signal any willingness toward raising taxes on incomes above $250,000, which President Barack Obama has said is necessary for him to sign a bill.

Nevertheless, the fact that more Republicans — including Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss — are breaking rank is becoming a major theme of the fiscal cliff negotiations.

Here’s Graham on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” saying he would accept increases in revenues if Democrats put forth a plan to cut entitlement spending:

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 — Republicans should put revenue on the table.  We’re this far in debt.  We don’t generate enough revenue.  Capping deductions will help generate revenue.  Raising tax rates 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?  I want to 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. […]

I’m willing to generate revenue.  It’s fair to ask my party to put revenue on the table.  We’re below historic averages.  I will not raise tax rates to do it.  I will cap deductions.  If you cap deductions around the $30,000, $40,000 range, you can raise $1 trillion in revenue, and the people who lose their deductions are the upper-income Americans. 

King, meanwhile, said on “Meet the Press” that he agreed with Chambliss’ thinking — that the pledge he signed when coming into Congress is outdated. 

“First of all, I agree entirely with Saxby Chambliss: A pledge you signed 20 years ago, 18 years ago, is for that Congress. For instance, if I were in Congress in 1941, I would have signed a support of declaration of war against Japan. I’m not going to attack Japan today. The world has changed, and the economic situation is different. Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill realised that in the 1980s.

“I think everything should be on the table. I myself am opposed to tax increases; the fact is, the speaker and the majority leader and the president are going to be in a room trying to find the best package. I’m not going to prejudge it, and I’m just saying we should not be taking ironclad positions. I have faith that John Boehner can put together a good package. I think so far, he’s been pretty conciliatory in his language.”

McCain, on “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace, said that he believes “we can close a lot of loopholes,” though he noted he was strictly opposed to marginal-rate increases. Two loopholes he identified were the deduction on charitable giving and the home-mortgage deduction.