Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said Sunday that he would be willing to violate Grover Norquist's ''Taxpayer Protection Pledge'' to strike a deal with Democrats to address the so-called fiscal cliff.
In a separate interview Sunday, Representative Peter King of New York echoed the assessment of a fellow Republican, Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, who said last week that Norquist's pledge may be outdated.
''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.''
"I will violate the pledge, long story short, for the good of the country, only if Democrats will do entitlement reform,'' Graham said. But he made clear that he remained opposed to raising tax rates on the wealthiest Americans, something President Obama and congressional Democrats favor.
''I will not raise tax rates to do it. I will cap deductions,'' Graham said. ''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.''
Norquist, who founded Americans for Tax Reform, strictly opposes tax increases, even during the fiscal cliff negotiations. Graham had previously signed on to the pledge not to raise taxes. Last week, Chambliss drew attention when said he was willing to buck Norquist's pledge. ''I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge,'' Chambliss told WMAZ-TV of Macon, Ga. ''If we do it his way then we'll continue in debt, and I just have a disagreement with him about that.''
King, who has also signed the pledge, said he agreed that changing times and a different economic climate justify a new approach. The New York representative said that while he opposes tax increases, he does not advocate taking ''ironclad positions'' during the negotiations between Democrats and Republicans on the nation's fiscal issues. ''A pledge you signed 20 years ago, 18 years ago, is for that Congress,'' King said on NBC's ''Meet the Press.''
GOP opposition begins to ease on Rice nomination
Republican opposition to UN Ambassador Susan Rice as the next secretary of state began to crack Sunday as Senator John McCain said she was ''not the problem'' in the White House's handling of the Sept. 11 attack in Libya and suggested he could be persuaded to swing behind her possible nomination.
McCain's comments provide an opening for the Obama administration, which struggled mightily in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 6 election to tamp down speculation of a cover-up involving the attack against the US diplomatic post in Benghazi. The assault killed four Americans, including the US ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens.
At issue is Rice's account — as the administration's representative on the Sunday talk shows Sept. 16 — that the violence was the spontaneous result of a mob angered by an anti-Muslim video posted on YouTube.
She said she relied on talking points provided by the intelligence community that were later discredited.
''I think she deserves the ability and the opportunity to explain herself and her position,'' McCain, an Arizona Republican, told ''Fox News Sunday.'' "But she's not the problem. The problem is the president of the United States'' who misled the public on terrorist involvement.