December 20th, 2009
12:35 PM ET
11 months ago

Graham: Dems engaging in 'seedy Chicago politics'


Washington (CNN) – Saying the White House and congressional Democrats were using “backroom deals that amount to bribes,” Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham slammed Democratic efforts to pass health care reform.

Speaking Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, Graham, R-South Carolina, took issue with a campaign trail pledge made by the Obama campaign to change how things work in Washington.

Obama and his team “ran a brilliant campaign,” Graham told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King,” but they're doing a lousy job governing the country, in my view.”

“You know, change you can believe in,” Graham said referring to a frequent theme of Obama’s underdog presidential campaign, “after this health care bill debacle, [that] has now becoming an empty slogan. And it's really been replaced by seedy Chicago politics, when you think about it, backroom deals that amount to bribes.”

Acknowledging that those were strong words, Graham backed up his assertions by pointing to a number of attributes of the health care reform bill now under consideration in the Senate. “This bill personifies the worst of Washington,” Graham said Sunday.

Referring to one of the biggest accounting scandals in recent memory, Graham said the bill was characterized by “Enron accounting techniques.”

The South Carolina Republican said that the House and Senate are not likely actually to impose cuts on the amount the Medicare program pays doctors. “So when you put that into the health care mix, this thing doesn't save money; it costs money. And that's phony,” said Graham.

The Republican senator also said that Congress is not likely actually to cut $470 billion from the Medicare program, a move that finances roughly half of the Senate bill’s costs over the first ten years.

“We will start forgiving those cuts to doctors and hospitals,” Graham told King. “So it is Enron-accounting. It is a sham.”

Graham also faulted the Senate bill for beginning to collect taxes immediately in order cover its costs but only paying out benefits during six of its first ten years after passage.

And the often soft-spoken Republican let loose on a provision in the Senate bill that involves the federal government in paying for long-term care insurance.

Graham quoted fellow Senator Kent Conrad, D-North Dakoka, who had described the new long-term care program “a Ponzi scheme of the first order,” a program “that Bernie Madoff would have been proud of.” Graham added, “So any Democratic senator who votes for this bill is a co-conspirator to one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in the history of Washington.”

And Graham took issue with a sweetheart deal Senate Democratic leaders negotiated with conservative Democrat Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Under the deal, the federal government will foot the bill in perpetuity for any additional Medicaid costs incurred by Nebraska as a result of passing the health care reform bill.

“Is it constitutional?,” Graham asked Sunday about the deal negotiated by Nelson. “I want the attorney general of South Carolina to look at this.”

Appearing earlier on State of the Union, Obama senior adviser David Axelrod defended the deal top Senate Democrats made with Nelson in order to secure the crucial 60th vote necessary to get the bill through the chamber.

“I think every senator uses whatever leverage they have to help their states. That's the way it's been. That's the way it will always be,” Axelrod said to King. “And people want their legislators to advocate for their states.”


Filed under: Health care • Lindsey Graham • Popular Posts • Senate • State of the Union
soundoff (210 Responses)
  1. Susan L.

    Oh, whatever. Tyring out a new meme since the "L" word is no longer such an epithet, eh? "Chicago-Style Politics", raising imagery of thugs and mobsters. Anyone who falls for this Republican brand-packaging is just a total moron.

    December 20, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  2. hank

    Normally Graham is one of the more sane voices of the Republican Party. But, sadly, he is acting like he just arrived in Washington for the first time. The GOP has collectively such conveniently short memories, wonder if the American people do too? Look, there is nothing that the Dems can do to get the Republicans on board. They are staking everything in their future on the failure of the Dems. So, it's not about the good of the country, its about some rigid, failed, ideology somehow prevailing. If they had practiced what they preached while Bush was in office, they may have a chance at being taken at least a tad seriously. But they didn't. Still, like any killed, snake, never write off the resiliency of the Republicans.

    December 20, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  3. harold

    As long as you got your gold plated health insurance coverage from the federal government everything is ok with you.. huh Mr. Graham?

    December 20, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  4. Mad Matt

    And "seedy Chicago politics" are different from racist southern politics how?

    December 20, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  5. Hugo

    Please remember that we foot the bill for all, we are not being represented as a people, the special interests are being represented.
    Wait till this spending spree catches us, you'll all be singing out of the other side of your pie holes. I am sure that many are younger and have never seen the repercussions of what previous Administrations economic mishaps have resulted in, unfortunately we all soon will. How's that balance sheet Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

    December 20, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  6. John in Indy

    wow, so much hate for the Bush years. Your hatered is fueling your incompetence, and your jingoistic comments show the beligerence of your ignorance. Have any of you leftys even bothered to read any of the bill? You may not like the Republicans, but your wailing against logical and well thought out arguments to bad law is stunning. The versions of yourselves that protested the Bush years would be kicking your own butts for putting up with this malarky from D.C.

    December 20, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  7. Truth-Bomb Thrower

    It would have sounded a lot better coming from a credible republican.

    December 20, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  8. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Republicans need to take the daggers out of the Democrats' back before they can talk about bribes or anything seedy. President Obama has punked the Republicans out and they are angrier than ever. Time for a diaper change Graham because the one you're wearing is a stinking mess.

    December 20, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  9. Really?

    He should know since he and his buddies are so good at southern good ole boy politics.

    December 20, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  10. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    It is the republicans who proudly announced they would not do their job for Americans. They are so desperate to see American fail, because then they will be popular. What is it about being a senator from South Carolina? Do you have to fail an intelligence test? And to think Lindsey is the smart one from S.C.

    At least these republicans will get to keep their health care and get paid for being on welfare.

    December 20, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
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