Lindsey Graham: Republicans Must Be Open To Raising Tax Revenues

Appearing Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Sen. Lindsey Graham explained his disagreement with Grover Norquist’s no-taxes pledge and said his party needs to put tax revenues on the table for debt reduction.

Well, what I would say to Grover Norquist is that the sequester destroys the United States military. According to our own secretary of defense, it would be shooting ourselves in the head. You’d have the smallest Army since 1940, the smallest Navy since 1915, the smallest Air Force in the history of the country, so sequestration must be replaced. 

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. 

But 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. What I’m looking for is more revenue for entitlement reform before the end of the year.

Graham added:

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.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sahil Kapur is TPM's senior congressional reporter and Supreme Court correspondent. His articles have been published in the Huffington Post, The Guardian and The New Republic. Email him at sahil@talkingpointsmemo.com and follow him on Twitter at @sahilkapur.
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