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 And it's really been replaced by seedy Chicago politics, when you think about it, backroom deals that amount to bribes.”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. Denis

    This bill and all the other assaults on the American economic system, with an ever-increasing escalation of our national debt, will eventually totally undermine our private sector and the U.S. dollar. Goodby capitalism. Hello dependency on the government handouts to the ever-increasing number of unemployed, to mothers of dependent children, to the poor for food stamps, to companies favored by the administrations, etc., etc., etc. Hey everybody! Socialism or communism hasn't worked. What makes you think it will now?

    December 20, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  2. diridi

    This Lindsay Grahm is another George Bush type idiot....he heeds to shut up.....does n't he know we are in 21st century....totally an idiot....just pass the health care with public option...ok, don't pay any heed at this idiot of south mark sanderson....ok

    December 20, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  3. Brendan

    Yeah John Gio because there have been way more democratic crooks in office the past forty years than republicans right?

    December 20, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  4. Dcook140

    Geez look at all the Dems getting in a twist over a minority Senator stating his views. The liberals attack the Republican Party, the Senator and the past. Not one of the comments reflect what Graham asserts. Do any of you liberals deny that the process was closed to the Republicans. Do you deny that it took place behind closed doors...not in front of the CSPAN cameras as the Oman professed to want? Do you really think the Dems will cut the medicare docs wages 20% or do you think the Senate will follow the democrat house and spend $300 B to correct the salaries? How about the $500B cuts to about the states portion of the 33 million new folks on medicare? Using Chicago politics, Nebraska, Vermont, LA won't have to pay for any of this increase forever... In return for their votes... did the liberals see this on CSPAN??

    You liberals won your victory... enjoy it.

    You liberals won, so enjoy it while you can.

    December 20, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  5. Mary in Toronto

    Lindsay Graham to be Republican is to have a twisted view of logic. Seedy politics is sending millions of Americans to their deaths through lack of health care. Give back your greedy, seedy, sneaky, rich people only tax cut entitlement under the Bush administration and donate it all to the troops and their families for proper fighting equipment and pensions afterwards. Remember that seedy Iraq war lie against the American people that you supported.This is where your tax cut should have gone in the first place. I know you believe your entitled as a Repulican. Its no surprise Republicans need to go for colon cleansings.

    December 20, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  6. Four and The Door

    Senator Graham is exactly correct and actually being kind to the Democrats about the process they have abused to squeeze this lousy legislation in and the terrible impact it will have on our economy and the quality of our national health care industry.

    It still shocks me that so many politicians can be coerced to vote in a bill that actually increases the cost of health care in the middle of a recession. They absolutely know that they are selling out against the good of the entire country and its future. They are not stupid but certainly they must be convinced that the majority of Americans are.

    December 20, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  7. wg

    Loser why didn't you come up a solution when you inept baffoons were in charge....shout up and go color

    December 20, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  8. Suzanne

    You people are ridiculous!!
    You are so divided that if the good "dems" do it it must be wonderful and if the nasty "GOP" does it it must be bad.
    Have you seriously lost any real independent judgement?
    I voted for Obama and have been a democrat all my life. I have no idea if this health bill will work and neither do you. The people who voted for haven't read it so you certainly cannot know,
    I will say that Obama scares me now. It is a case of misleading, backdealing, Chicago style politics. His judgement on may things has been shown to be very flawed. My problem is that the GOP is no better than these liars. Rev. Wright said of Obama "He is just a politician and will say anything he has to". Those words echo in my head now every day.

    December 20, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  9. Janet from California

    No one would know better than Senator Graham and the Republicans about seedy Chicago style politics. After all, they wrote and edited the manual for 8 years! More fear, fear, fear! Enough already! The American public wants health care reform. So, Republcans, move out of the way. The train is coming down the track!

    December 20, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  10. Lonny Davis

    First off I am a libertarian. So you can leave the partisan flames out of this.

    This deal is full of back room politics. Have any of you read the bill? I read about 400 pages of it. It is a scam. It will ruin the best health care system in the world. Read the bill and stop blaming the republicans. This has nothing to do with them. It has to do with a bad bill this country can't afford. Before you whine about not being able to pay for the system we have now, maybe you should get a better job or go to school to do something other than screwing on a bolt on a substandard US made automobile. Unions are the death of this country. It is a lame version of communism. I can tell you this. The harder you try to squeeze the rich, the poor and the middle class pay.
    It's sickening that people complained about the AIG bonuses when Obama forgave Billions to the Auto Unions who elected him. Wheres that outrage. Now that is a scam.

    At least Graham has the guts to say the truth.

    December 20, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  11. Q

    Didn't Graham and the rest of the GOP refuse to help make this a better bill. Instead they chose to put the Party above the needs of the country and make this Obama's "Waterloo".

    December 20, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  12. MikeH


    You're spot on. I can tell what the Republicans are going to do, because they accuse the Democrats of it first.

    The other Rebuplican duplicity is to label a piece of legislation opposite of it's intended purpose ("Healthy Forest Initiative" = cut down the last of America's old-growth forest, "Clean Skies Initiative" = relax pollution laws, release more mercury, sulfer dioxide, etc.)

    There are plenty of corrupt Democrats, but the whole gang doesn't act in concert to destroy America's middle class and replace America's constitutional democracy with a plutocracy like the Republicans seem bent on doing.

    December 20, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  13. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    Let's see him and the rest of Congress forgo their "socialized medical care" paid for by taxpayers since most are millionaires.

    December 20, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  14. Bob Jones

    To B:
    No, Republicans are the scum that bottom-feeders feed on!

    December 20, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  15. Disappointed American

    I am very disappointed in the way Mr. Obama has pushed and bribed many of our senators into going along with this health care bill. I feel he is the biggest terrorist Americans have to fear. He is bent on doing what he wants regardless of where it leaves us. It's just sad that our Democratic senators have let him pressure and bribe them.

    December 20, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  16. vwrtb

    If its so back room... Then how do they know... Who helped Chaney create his energy bill... I still don't know that one... Give me a break... Republicans are disgusting... Yawn....

    December 20, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  17. Bev

    Obama and the Democrats have used sleazy, Chicago politics for this entire process.

    Where was the transparency that Obama stated would occur during his campaign??? Remember---all debate would be on C-Span, no lobbyists, any new legislation would be posted for 2 weeks before it it voted on, etc.

    No, this is not what happened. Closed door deals, threats, bribes is what happened through this process.

    However, the majority in the country are well aware of what happened during this process. The majority in the country are against this health care disaster.

    Indpendents are against this health care disaster by almost 70%. Independents no longer trust/support/approve of Obama and the Democrats--and plan on voting for the Republicans in 2010 by 50% to 37%. This means that Independents and Republicans will be voting AGAINST the Democrats.

    The Democrats are going to get clobbered in the 2010 elections!!!!

    December 20, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  18. terry,va

    I don't agree with Graham a lot, but he is right in this case. I've never seen congress write a bill behind locked doors and not let anyone know what is in the bill. Then, they buy off a couple of people to move something out of the Senate. Let the talking heads talk about a public option. Let the right complain about abortion being paid for. All of this is irrelevant. Obummie promised open, transparent politics. He is the LAIR IN CHIEF. I am concerned about getting stuck with higher taxes and potentially rationed care, but I'm more concerned about the man that holds the office of president is a bigger LIAR than Nixon, Clinton and Bush put together.

    December 20, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  19. rufus

    Congress needs to do something –anything - even if it is wrong. We need change and we need it fast. We can worry about what we changed or what it will cost later. Just get some change going, puhleeeze!!!

    December 20, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  20. German,Irish American

    How's that transparent, C-Span cameras will be watching, going for you Obama lemmings. The Democrats admit that Obama said it didn't matter what got sacrificed as long as he got a bill so he could keep his campaign promise. In other words good or bad, it makes no difference as long as Obama is made to look good. This is a deal cut by EIGHT Democrats behind closed doors. Dick Durbin, the third ranking Democrat, couldn't defend the payout to Nebraska because he admitted he didn't know what was in the bill he is pushing to pass.

    December 20, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  21. Val, NYC

    Attack, attack, attack.

    It's not possible to have bipartisan government when the GOP is doing everything they can to bring down the President. They're struggling to regain power, even though their focus needs to be on helping America.

    You cannot have bipartisanship unless both parties are willing.

    December 20, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  22. Shelly

    GOP the seediest party ever!!!!!! They are involved in the destruction of America and the American people for the last 8 years and continue to do so.....NO to health care, No to Defense spending for our soldiers, hate towards any one different from them, No to rights for women, No to taking care of our Mother Earth, No to helping the poor and unemployed.
    NO to everything anyone tries to do to better the lives of Americans!

    December 20, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  23. Newfie63

    There is no honor on both sides of the aisle. Politics is about dealing, double-dealing, underhanded stuff and is getting worse each year.
    Freshmen senators and legislators don't stand a chance in retaining their "innocence" because they soon see that the way to get things done is behind doors and in dark corners. Thomas Jefferson must be spinning.

    December 20, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  24. ted

    Much of the problems in washington are due to the politics that republicans like lindsey graham play. He is a typical republican that has no record to stand on and can only criticize the dems. If Graham and the rest woudl stand up and pledge bipartisanship and actually do it, we all would be much better off.

    December 20, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  25. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    Graham is absolutely right–the Senate's bill is edge-to-edge with distortions–and outright lies–and provisions meant to be ignored and/or quietly repealed at some later date.

    December 20, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
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