Today, multiple high-ranking Republicans announced that they were willing to raise taxes as part of a deal to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” breaking the pledges they had made to Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform. Said Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos:
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.
Graham did say he would not vote to raise tax rates, but that he would vote to 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,” said Graham.
Graham wasn’t the only Republican to backtrack on his pledge not to raise taxes today. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) said he’d vote, too, to cap deductions on NBC’s Meet the Press. “I agree entirely with Saxby Chambliss. A pledge you signed 20 years ago, 18 years ago, is for that Congress,” King stated. “The world has changed and the economic situation is different.”
All of this follows on the heels of Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) announcing last week that he’d vote to cap deductions. Chambliss said, “I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge. If we do it his way then we’ll continue in debt, and I just have a disagreement with him about that.”
Of course, the world hasn’t changed. If anything, it has become less worthwhile to raise taxes in an ailing economy. But Republicans are getting ready to cave, basing themselves on Mitt Romney’s tax plan of capping deductions while not raising rates. The Republican base was less than enthused about that concept to begin, but embraced Romney in order to avoid Obama. With Romney gone, his ideas remain. Unfortunately, more and more Republicans – including House Speaker John Boehner, who has also taken the position that deductions should be capped but rates should not be raised — are seeking safety in numbers as they prepare to cave on taxes.