Alex Wong/Getty Images for Meet the Press
"Grover Norquist, talk to the hand."
Cracks are beginning to show in Grover Norquist's once rock-solid hold over the GOP on taxes. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham urged his members of his party to consider eliminating tax deductions and be more flexible in the interest of paying down the country's mountain of debt.
"When you eliminate a deduction, it's OK with me to use some of that money to get us out of debt. That's where I disagree with the pledge," Graham said in an interview with ABC News on Tuesday. Paging Norquist on the set...
"When you talk about eliminating deductions and tax credits for the few, at the expense of the many, I think over time the Republican Party's position is going to shift. It needs to, quite frankly, because we are $16 trillion in debt," he said.
Graham expects equal flexibility from Democrats on entitlement reform. "I'm willing to move my party, or try to, on the tax issue. I need someone on the Democratic side being willing to move their party on structural changes to entitlements."
Graham's position is a baby step towards independence from Norquist and he's one of a small club of Republicans currently in office, like Senator Tom Coburn and Congressman Frank Wolf, who are standing up to Norquist's organization, Americans for Tax Reform. Retired Republicans like Alan Simpson and Jeb Bush have spoken out, although Bush recently conceded that would probably make him unable to get elected given the current climate of the Republican party.
Lawrence O'Donnell previously pegged Norquist as "the most powerful man in American who does not sleep in the White House" over his pledge holding thousands of GOP leaders — including the likes of Graham and presidential nominee Mitt Romney — at the mercy of Americans for Tax Reform. They agreed to oppose all tax increases unless they are met with a matching dollar-for-dollar tax cut. If this eye-for-an-eye oath sounds like it was crafted in the 7th grade — bingo! — it actually was.