Graham, others break with Norquist

With most Americans pessimistic about the chances for a compromise that could avert the “fiscal cliff” — and inclined to blame Republicans for the failure — it’s worth noting that our own Lindsey Graham is among those trying to lead the GOP away from Grover Norquist and toward a somewhat more rational course:

A pair of congressional Republicans reiterated their willingness Sunday to violate an anti-tax pledge in order to strike a deal on the “fiscal cliff,” echoing Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the Georgia Republican who suggested last week that the oath may be outdated.

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said he was prepared to set aside Grover Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge if Democrats will make an effort to reform entitlements, and Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) suggested the pledge may be out of step in the present economy.

“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,” Graham said on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.” “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.”…

Hey, Lindsey, I’ve got your entitlement reform right here: Eliminate the income cap on contributions to Social Security, and raise retirement age slightly. That would save that benefit, and would be a good place to start. Then, bada-bing, go raise some revenue for the general fund…

37 thoughts on “Graham, others break with Norquist

  1. Michael Rodgers

    I’ve decided that I was wrong about what President Obama should do. Instead of “wising up” to the reality that the Republicans won’t ever ever raise taxes on the 1%, President Obama should do what he is doing, which is to keep putting the pressure on the Republicans. Do they want to do what’s right? I think that they do. I think that they do.

  2. Doug Ross

    Eliminating the income cap on Social Security is raising taxes. Mine. By thousands of dollars. But that’s okay. As long as someone else feels the pain, a liberal can feel good.

    Since Lindsey is also bought and paid for by the military industrial complex, we can’t expect him to actually cut spending there.

    Funny how he waited until after Obama was elected to pull this. Had Romney won, he never would have said a word. He’s the biggest phony in the Senate.

  3. Doug Ross

    Luckily, since Obama promised not to raise the taxes on any family making under $250K, he can’t raise the Social Security maximum limit.

    Because that would make him a liar. But then we don’t actually expect people to do what they say they will do when they are politicians, right? That would be setting the bar too high.

  4. Steve Gordy

    Social Security isn’t the real spending problem; Medicare is. Vows never to raise taxes ring hollow unless our solons wise up and do some systematic thinking about how to establish spending limits that will hold up under stress.

  5. bud

    We really shouldn’t even be having a discussion about the budget deficit right now. What we should be doing while unemployment is at 7.9% is borrowing like crazy to improve our infrastructure while interest rates are at historic lows. Evenutually we need to fix our roads, why not now? That would put folks back to work and reduce the amount we pay our for unemployment compensation while at the same time putting money in the hands of folks who will spend it.

    We could partially offset the spending increases with a big tax hike on the rich, perhaps moving to a marginal tax rate of 40% including on interest and dividends on incomes above $500k. The rich do little to stimulate the economy with all their money hoarding so why not go after their largely unearned money stash?

    All this talk of a “fiscal cliff” is just one more example of media hype. Remember the Y2K hysteria?

  6. Silence

    I’d like to hear a little more about what Lindsey is talking about when he says “buy down debt and cut rates”, can you explain that statement?

  7. Doug Ross

    Before the hype and spin starts, let’s remember that reducing the rate of growth of spending is not a “cut”. A cut is spending less than you did before.

  8. Doug Ross


    “We could partially offset the spending increases with a big tax hike on the rich, perhaps moving to a marginal tax rate of 40% including on interest and dividends on incomes above $500k.”

    Please do the math. Show your work. Or I will do it for you. To generate just a billion dollars worth of revenue, you need to apply your 40% tax rate on 2.5 billion dollars of income above $500K.

    To generate a 500 billion (the size of TARP), you would need to tax incomes totaling 1,250,000,000,000 (1.25 trillion) above $500K. And that’s assuming you could rewrite the entire tax code that allows the “rich” to avoid taxes.

    You can’t tax your way to prosperity. You have to stop spending what you don’t have first.

  9. Elliott


    Raising the income cap means my family and also my grown children will pay more taxes, and I consider myself a liberal. Imagine that, being for a tax increase that costs me more for the good of the country.

  10. bud

    What everyone in congress along with the president is talking about is austerity. Austerity is a polite way of saying they want to cut income for those who can afford it least. That is a formula that has been tried in various parts of Europe and has failed. Let’s learn from our friends overseas and not repeat their folly. Instead let’s spend our way to prosperity by rebuilding our broken roads, railroads, bridges, water systems, electrical grid and other infrastructure needs while interest rates are low. These things will have to be upgraded eventually anyway. Why not do it now while borrowing costs are ridiculously low? In some cases people are paying Uncle Sam to lend them money. It is pure madness not to take advantage of this unique opportunity. That would make sense even if unemployment was not still so high. But with high unemployment it’s a no-brainer.

  11. Silence

    I do feel like we need to take a stand here, freeze spending and ensure that any tax increase from this point forward is put towards real debt reduction.
    Otherwise we’ll be back in this same boat a decade from now raising taxes again because we have an enormous deficit.

  12. Steven Davis II

    @Doug – “Eliminating the income cap on Social Security is raising taxes. Mine. By thousands of dollars. But that’s okay. As long as someone else feels the pain, a liberal can feel good.”

    There’s already been a term coined for these people, the FSA (Free Sh!T Army). Their sole purpose in life is to see how much they can get from the government with as little effort as possible. To them “work” is standing in a welfare line with a filled out form expecting a payday once they reach the front of the line.

    I seriously hope we do fall off the fiscal cliff. Sure it’ll cost me more, but the way it’s written, those leaches will also get their entitlements cut severely. Am I against the poor, nope… I grew up very close to that economic line. But I worked my butt off to make something of myself and I see others who grew up in similar situations who did nothing more than required and they’re complaining because they don’t have anything and expect me to give it to them. Well “F” that.

  13. Steven Davis II

    @bud – “We really shouldn’t even be having a discussion about the budget deficit right now. What we should be doing while unemployment is at 7.9% is borrowing like crazy to improve our infrastructure while interest rates are at historic lows. ”

    As the line in the classic movie, Dumb and Dumber goes, “just when I thought you couldn’t go out and do something dumber…”. In this instance, substitute “do” for “say”.

    “We’re broke, let’s go shopping… sign up for another credit card!!!”

  14. Steven Davis II

    Do these people realize that the tax cuts they’re asking to go away will also increase the tax rate for the lowest income earners from 10% to 15%?

    If we’re going to cut, make it across the board, not just for the select few who are actually successful.

  15. Steven Davis II

    @bud ‘ ” Instead let’s spend our way to prosperity”

    Has that ever worked out? I mean it’s been tried weekly by the women on “Real Housewives of (insert city)”, but weeks later you read about them filing for bankruptcy.

  16. Karen McLeod

    The rich as well as the poor use the infrastructure. To be paid to build/repair a road or a bridge is not ‘getting something for free.’

  17. bud

    The rich benefit the most from the roads. Afterall if it wasn’t for roads how would all the materials to build their mansions or yachts get delivered?

  18. Kathryn Fenner

    Spending is demonstrably good for the macroeconomy. Whether it works for a personal microeconomy is debatable.

    Macroeconomics is different from microeconomics in many ways.

    And if you are so dubious about spending our way collectively to prosperity, then raising taxes should have no impact on the economy, right?

  19. Brad

    Yeah, I’ve done construction work. That’s who should get the big bucks that athletes and movie stars get. But instead, they get what the market dictates. Which shows you how messed up market forces are.

    By the way, there was a good op-ed piece in the WSJ the other day that was sort of an ode to the writer’s Dad, who had been a lineman for the power company, back in the days when they had to climb those polls, rather than be lifted in cherry-pickers.

    Excerpts from the piece: “As a kid, if I was still awake when he returned home from a trouble call, I would sit at the kitchen table while he ate a warmed-up dinner served by my mother. He shoveled in food like he was feeding a coal furnace, and metaphorically speaking he was: Pulling double shifts while dangling in the air during a subzero ice storm burns a lot of calories.

    “After working 48 hours straight, he always had a can of tuna fish handy in his toolbox for a quick energy fix. In the blazing Midwestern summers he fought the nesting wasps while climbing steel towers as hot as a flapjack griddle. The dried salt in his sweat made his leather belts turn white and rot.”

    Now THAT’s working for a living. More: “After two operations on a bad back that was aggravated by years of climbing, my father retired early. He had loved the job and confessed to me that it suited him perfectly. He took a kind of macho pride in the raw physicality it required, along with the inclement weather and the not infrequent danger…

    “In a world that seems increasingly dominated by politicians, pundits, community organizers, professors, lawyers, marketing managers and others who mostly specialize in the production of words, there is often little understanding of what it takes to produce an essential product or service that we frequently take for granted….”

    As one of those word people, I take that to heart.

  20. Brad

    Not that word people don’t work hard, it’s just different.

    In response to SDII’s “But I worked my butt off to make something of myself…”

    Yeah, so did I. For 35 years. Long, long hours, sometimes (in the earlier days) a couple of days straight without resting. Greatly neglecting my family while my kids were growing up, which is the greatest regret of my life. Gradually making my way up to the highest job I even wanted, and continuing to pound away at that job, until…

    I got laid off. And there WERE no more jobs like the one I had “worked my butt off” for.

    That’s happened to a lot of people, in very different lines of work — not just journalism. In past economic downturns, it was just the blue-collar types previously mentioned (and pink-collar as well) who got laid off, which of course was unfair. What’s happened since 2008 is that “word” workers and managers were equally vulnerable. And I look around, and it seems unlikely — for many of those rendered unemployed or underemployed by that recession — that they will ever regain the levels of employment that they worked so hard for for all those years.

    Just so you know.

  21. Kathryn Fenner

    I regularly worked 16 hour days, five or six days a week in my twenties, under ridiculous stress, but that does not constitute working one’s butt off. Road work in a SC summer, picking produce, manual landscaping: that’s really working your butt off! Sitting at a desk in a climate controlled space can be soul sucking, but it is nothing compared to what laborers do.

  22. Steven Davis II

    @Brad, Adapt and change, adapt and change. As they say, “That’s the breaks” and “sometimes life sucks”. You get knocked down you get back up, you down crawl off whining because nobody wants to hear that. When you only know how to do one thing in life, you put yourself at a disadvantage.

    If you were a “pink collar”, I feel the termination was justified.

  23. Steven Davis II

    @bud – The rich can always have those products flown in by helicopter or jet.

    Now let’s talk about the trucker who makes his living on these same roads.

  24. Steven Davis II

    @Kathryn – “Macroeconomics is different from microeconomics in many ways.”

    Really, so is one large and one small?

  25. Steven Davis II

    @Brad – Read your lineman story. And as someone who grew up around construction, I’ve also heard more than once that, “I do this so my kids won’t have to.”.

    How many kids raised in the last 20 years don’t have a skill to fall back on? Hacking an XBox or iPhone isn’t a skill. Pumping their own gas is considered a skill to them. How many can do basic maintenance on a vehicle or small engine, how many know which end of a hammer or screw driver to hold? I’d love to see a kid today try to figure out how to layout a set of simple stairs without having to Google or search YouTube. I was doing things like that on my own when I was 15.

  26. Bryan Caskey

    “Spending is demonstrably good for the macroeconomy.”


    The economy benefits when more goods and services are produced. Spending is just counting the dollars. You have to look at what goods and services are being produced.

    Why haven’t we gotten out of the crisis from 2007-2008? We’ve spent trillions of dollars, yet no recovery. Hmmmm….

    Would it be good for the economy to spend a billion dollars to dig holes and fill them back up? Well, we’ve just spend a billion dollars, right?

    Why isn’t Greece the most prosperous country in Europe? They have had some of the highest spending in Europe as a percentage of their GDP.

    Having said all that, I think we should raise taxes on everyone (especially rich people) and then have the government spend it on more/better roads and bridges, tunnels, and railroads.

    It will be really funny to watch the results.

  27. Silence

    @bud – Unemployment at 7.9% might be the new normal, 5% might have been the anomaly while the economy was getting fully juiced by cheap foreign capital, deficit spending and consumer/business credit. Also, austerity means that we are being thrifty and/or forgoing luxuries. We are nowhere near that at this point, and neither is anywhere in Europe, really.

    @ SDII – I really don’t think falling off the fiscal cliff is a good idea.

    @ Kathryn – Some spending is better for the economy than other spending. Often times our leadership makes decisions for political considerations – and short term considerations, rather than making decisions that are best for the country collectively in the long run. Also, how does being dubious about spending our way to prosperity even relate to the potential impact of a tax hike?

    @ Brad – There’s nothing messed up about market forces. If a movie star or athlete fails to draw a crowd, he’s done. After a few flops nobody will finance your pictures anymore. I guarantee that people lost their jobs after John Carter, the Oogieloves, The Postman, Mars Needs Moms, and Leonard Part 6.

    If a job is desirable or prestigious, you don’t have to pay someone as much to do it. There are probably 50 college students trying to be on the TV news for every job, so at the local level the pay doesn’t need to be very good. Same for print reporters – there’s a surplus of candidates relative to the number of jobs. Linemen work hard, my best friend’s father just retired from SCANA as a line supervisor. He worked hard, but was paid pretty well, has a pension, company stock, etc.

  28. Silence

    @ Brad – I’ll bet Red Adair got paid very well to put out oil well fires. Once again, that would have been the market setting prices. Since he was pretty much the only person (or had the only company) who could do what he did, he could name his own price.

  29. bud

    Would it be good for the economy to spend a billion dollars to dig holes and fill them back up? Well, we’ve just spend a billion dollars, right?

    Actually it would if unemployment was high. That’s essentially what happened in the 80s during the Reagan military buildup. It’s obvious now that we didn’t have any use for all that military crap but the spending for it gave people, including soldiers and sailors, work.

    But given our many needs that is a mute point. We can spend on stuff that we actually do need and don’t need to spend on stuff that we don’t.

  30. Steven Davis II

    @Kathryn – I can chalk up roadwork and landscaping, not in SC but in another state where summers can be miserably hot. Physically hard, mentally and “stressily” not. I learned early on that wasn’t the type of work I wanted to do so I did what was required to better myself and now I push buttons on a keyboard for a living.

    If I knew that I was only going to be able to do one thing the rest of my life, and didn’t want to have the stress of that job going away I would have gone to mortuary school. I don’t like dead bodies, so I made sure I had a Plan B.

  31. Silence

    @ bud – I think the term is “moot point” not “mute point”, just sayin’. Of course Joey, from Friends called it a “moo point”.

  32. Steve Gordy

    Anyone who passed over in silence the various spending binges under Dubya should think twice before criticizing spending during the last four years. I doubt this criticism applies to Doug and Silence; it may be valid for others.

  33. bud

    I guess it was all just too much for Jim DeMint. Thankfully the worthless scoundrel has departed the Senate.

Comments are closed.