Sen. Lindsey Graham became the latest Republican lawmaker to break with anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist and his Americans for Tax Reform group, with South Carolina’s senior senator telling ABC’s George Stephanopolous he is open to raising tax revenue as a way of balancing the federal budget.
Graham still opposes raising income tax rates, he said on ABC’s This Week, but would support raising revenue by cutting tax loopholes — as long as Democrats compromise on cutting entitlement spending.
“Republicans should put revenue on the table,” Graham said on Sunday. “We’re this far in debt. We don’t generate enough revenue. Capping deductions will help generate revenue.”
By supporting an increase in tax revenue, Graham would violate the pledge signed by most congressional Republicans to “oppose any and all tax increases,” including loopholes and tax credits that amount to billions in giveaways each year for corporations and the wealthy.
“I agree with Grover, we shouldn’t raise rates,” Graham said. “But, I think Grover is wrong when it comes to [saying] we can’t cap deductions and buy down debt.”
A number of other Republicans have joined Graham in breaking up with Norquist, including senators John McCain, Bob Corker and Saxby Chambliss, as well as Rep. Peter King. Norquist said his Americans for Tax Reform group would work to unseat any pledge signer who has “impure thoughts” about raising tax revenue.
Graham’s move is not likely to win him any support from the Jim DeMint wing of the Republican Party, which follows Norquist in lockstep by refusing to raise tax revenue under any circumstances, and has already signaled an intent to oppose Graham in 2014. State Sen. Tom Davis, who is reportedly weighing a primary campaign against Graham in two years, was quick to take a shot at Graham’s willingness to compromise on tax revenue.
“GOP politicians vow to raise taxes, act like it’s patriotic,” Davis wrote on Facebook in response to Graham’s announcement. “We’re now completely through the looking-glass.” Davis also posted a photo of Graham and Norquist shaking hands, encouraging his supporters to “take a shot” at South Carolina’s senior senator.
Watch video of Graham announcing his support for increased tax revenue below: