December 20th, 2009
12:35 PM ET
4 years 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 And it's really been replaced by seedy Chicago politics, when you think about it, backroom deals that amount to bribes.”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. GI Joe

    He definitely knows seedy when he sees it.

    His party invented it, and they are continually refining it.

    STFU Graham.

    December 20, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    Maybe the headline should read:

    GOP Engaging in typical FearMongering politics.

    December 20, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  3. Ex-NC-Pub


    Mafia, domestic terrorists.... Lindsey, I am shaking in my boots.

    You want to see a good example of Lindsey Graham/Bush/McCain WASHINGTON politics? Take a good look at Iraq and Afganistan. Talking about RUSHING something through that is bankrupting this country!

    December 20, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  4. John Gio

    Democrats are crooks

    December 20, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  5. Bob Jones

    Senator should keep quiet. I don't see how any Republican has the nerve to say ANYTHING right now. We all see what happened when they were in total control for 6 of the last eight years. The only reason they don't like this health bill is probably because not of their fat-cat corporate buddies are going to profit from it. We should raise taxes on the super rich to pay for this plan.

    December 20, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  6. lila

    As if. The republicans are engaged in seedy rumor mongering... in a dark corner whispering campaign.

    December 20, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  7. Another Reformed Republican

    Just typical whining from the Refusenik crowd. They claim they want to participate but they only say NO and offer NO new ideas, only tired old rhetoric.

    The only thing the Refuseniks will support is killing men, women, children, and babies in wars they started but they get all exited about abortion. How is killing babies in war any different than killing babies by abortion? The Refuseniks seem to be using some twisted logic here.

    December 20, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  8. GI Joe

    As soon as Limbaugh or Palin decides what the "truth of the week" is, I'm sure they will give these guys their talking points.

    December 20, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  9. Nate

    Seriously people have no problem with the obvious deals being done to get this passed?

    GI Joe if he knows seedy when he sees it your admitting this is a bill being passed with seedy deals. You're okay with that??

    I'm not going to argue the merits of the bill, but anything that has to have this many backroom deals to get passed has got to raise some serious questions.

    December 20, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  10. lila

    The one thing I've learned about the GOP is that they are the party of projection. What ever they claim the democrats are doing is in fact what they are up to. So, what we now know is that the GOP is up to some dirty business. Thanks for the heads up Graham!

    December 20, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  11. B

    Talk about Seedy.. just look at the last eight years, or what the Republicans are trying to do now! They admit to trying to destroy the Obama administration!

    The Republicans are deceitful bottom-feeders...

    December 20, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  12. Lynda/Minnesota

    “This bill personifies the worst of Washington,” Graham said Sunday.

    I'm quite sure that Graham and all his cohorts in congress who sat back and ignored the warnings of a failing economy time after time might not want to point fingers in the other direction.

    How *seedy* is that, I wonder?

    December 20, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  13. J.C. - Independent 4 Public Option

    GOP is just sour over the greater possibility of passing a second health care reform by a second Dem president.

    Well, they had all the time and opportunity they could have done it and in a better economic environment, but chose not to.

    However, a health care reform with mandates but without a public option will be a big problem. How can you mandate health insurance without providing affordability? As long as premiums go to pay earnings for shareholders, health care costs will continue rising to increase the bottom lines. The ONLY way to stop it cold is through Public Option or Universal health Care.

    December 20, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  14. holdingupthemirror

    Lindsey.... all that non-sense you spewed this morning.... boring. Lets get to brass tacks Sen Graham. Why don't you explain to the seniors and baby-boomers why you are not voting to reform Medicare/Medicaid? If we do not reform this system, then M/M will rival our national GDP in a decade. This has to be fixed. If its not, then the 35 Million elderly (over 65 and in the system) and the 75 million baby-boomers who will begin to hit the system next year will not have the safety net they have been paying for all their working lives.
    This is more than a bill for the poverty stricken, it is a bill for seniors as well. Go ahead (R) Sen. Graham, tell the seniors why you are against this bill.....

    December 20, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  15. GI Joe

    NATE – the republicans are projecting seedy onto other people, because the republicans are seedy and they know it. Look at all the back door deals your GODs Cheney/Bush pulled.

    December 20, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  16. G.G.

    Lindsay Graham speaks the truth.
    Now if people would have an open mind and actually listen to what he has to say.
    Too many people in America sit in their small box and without using their own indepent mind only follow party lines.
    Dimwits being run by dimwits.

    December 20, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  17. Robrob

    “backroom deals that amount to bribes,”

    So now completely legal things *all* political parties (including the GOP) engage in are being compared to criminal acts?

    Maybe if you concentrated on representing the electorate you would win more elections and have more say in these "backroom deals"?

    December 20, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  18. Joe

    Senator Graham could promote openness, if he publicly addressed the persistent rumors that he is a self-loathing homosexual.

    December 20, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  19. J.C. - Independent 4 Public Option

    The only good idea from the Republicans is tort reform. We should reform malpractice insurance as no other country in the world has as expensive a system as we do. And, we all have to pay for it.

    December 20, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  20. lasvegasrose

    Oh he's just upset because he didn't think of it first. hahah. By the way, I'll put up good ole East Coast politics against Chicago politics anyday of the week. Time to put a dead fish in Emmuels bed and get rid of the guy. woohoo.

    December 20, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  21. Mike

    I'm from Chicago and I resent Graham's allegation that the politics here are "seedy." Chicago politics has made it the best-governed big city in America (which it has been for many years). South Carolina has given us a steady stream of "Republicrat" politicians over the years: hypocrites who preach one thing and (in secret) do quite another. Lindsey is better than most, but his state has consistently produced some of the country's most notable political low-life.

    December 20, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  22. FM

    Whatever Repubs say, I do not think will stop or slow down the Dems. They have determined to accomplish something!

    December 20, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  23. Florence

    And throughout the segment Lindsay was looking down at his script that he cooked up with his BFF McCain and the turtle McConnel. Republicans are not worthy of telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth – anything this man and his colleagues say I take with a grain of salt. Democrats will be in worse shape if they don't pass the healthcare bill and if Republicans don't like it, well they can tell their constituents not to sign up for any benefits. They can continue to pay astronomical fees to the insurance companies and refuse subsidies from the gov't. But don't tell folks who want to sign up for healthcare to stand on the side and not support the bill.

    PASS THE BILL or DON'T and will see what happens in 2010.

    December 20, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  24. ac

    Health care reform is necessary. BUT not this bill, which would only be good: 1) if you could trust Washington to administer the program competently (which you can't) and not merely expand it (which they will); and, 2) if you could trust the dollar figures involved (which you obviously can't).
    So there you have it, a complicated, poorly run program which will further bankrupt the country.

    December 20, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  25. jim

    more republican idiocy. name calling and innuendo to the ends of the earth. it sure would be nice if they were capable of just trying to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

    December 20, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
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