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 And it's really been replaced by seedy Chicago politics, when you think about it, backroom deals that amount to bribes.”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

    What don't the politicians understand about "we are tired of party politics as usual"? As an independent, neither of the two national parties are properly serving the people of America. Both parties are now more about themselves than they are about the american people.

    December 20, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  2. mike jones

    maybe lindsey graham should worry about his state of south carolina who has the highest unemployment rate of the 50 states

    December 20, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  3. ANDROLOMA, Commerce City, Colorado

    republicrats are criminals, and Americans need to stop voting for them.

    December 20, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  4. Joyce in South Carolina

    He makes me embarrassed to be from South Carolina.

    December 20, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  5. Kevin

    At least Obama's trying to change things...politicians generally expend more effort slandering others or furthering their own party's political agenda than actually doing their best to make the world a better place. While many Democratic politicians are completely useless, lately it seems as if the Republican party's plan is simply to throw words around and try and prevent any sort of progress whatsoever. The government already acts slowly enough on issues without self serving politicians trying to stall what little progress occurs. All talk and no actions will simply further the decline of this country, both economically and in terms of reputation.

    I swear, 90% of the people in political offices or discussing politics simply are unable to view events through any other viewpoints than their own. It's truly pathetic. Keep squandering money on probation, the drug war, and ensuring the survival of corporations that are unable to manage themselves effectively, rather than putting it towards education (which is really the future of the country). Temporarily burying issues isn't really a solid way to run a country...and that's all that words and tirades such as this accomplish.

    December 20, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  6. Biased

    Just look at the comments here and see that democrats can't address what Graham says – they only attack Graham. It hurts hearing the truth doesn' t it! Back room deals and special carve outs permanently for Nebraska at the expense of every other state, billions to others who withheld their endorsement to the last minute. This is politics at its worst and nothing more than bribes paid out for a Senator's vote. This is not negotiating but extortion. I am glad all this rush for votes at 1:00 am in the morning when there will now be a three week holiday where nothing will be done and the vast majority of the bill doesn't kick in for 4 years. Way to go Reid for selling out 49 states.

    December 20, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  7. mary mtl can

    Mr Graham eight years of mess on your watch

    December 20, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  8. Louis

    For 6 of the last 8 years, Republicans in Washington and have run things and pretty much ran things into the ground.

    Now, we have to listen to Rep Graham and and his ilk complain about not being included. All they have to offer is a big, fat "NO" to anything President Obama and the Democratic have to offer. Everyting they proposes has "the sky will fall" if this legislation is passed.

    If they have no new ideas other than the same failed policies which has spawned many of the messes that Obama now has to deal with, they need to step aside. I can't see one example where the Republicans have tried to reach across the aisle, whereas Obama has had key Republicans to the WH, all for nothing.

    The American people understand that politics can be down and dirty, however, we have to believe that their representatives are working for them, not Big Business. So many people are suffering now due to the Republican massive failures of the last 8 years. It is time for the ship to be righted and Obama seems to want to to do that. It is a shame the Republicans won't help unscrew the mess they played a large part in creating.

    December 20, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  9. j

    Sounds like the pot calling the kettle black but the Grand Obstructionist party has the market cornered. The Party of NO made the decision early on not to participate and now they're whining that they're not being included. The Republicans only have themselves to blame.

    December 20, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  10. j

    On the other hand, I'm a progressive and I'm not at all satisfied with this health bill in it's current form. It's more of a pro-insurance health bill than a health reform bill.

    December 20, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  11. T. Carr

    Who cares what Graham says.

    December 20, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  12. chris

    Ok, lets see your proposal? None? ok...

    December 20, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  13. S M R

    What about President Bush using Reconciliation To give tax breaks to the Rich while fighting 2 wars, Democrats tried to stop it but He went against Their warning. He used it not only once, but 3 times.

    December 20, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  14. Iamsonaive

    O, my goodness me! Icky mud being thrown by Mr Graham. Who would have thought. O, dear me.

    December 20, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  15. ThinkAgain

    Typical GOP fear-mongering, hoping and trying and wanting President Obama and our country to fail.

    If the GOP were good at ANYTHING, they wouldn't have left our country in such a MESS after 8 years of being in the White House!

    You guys don't know jack about the economy: Tax cuts for the wealthy who ship jobs overseas; two unfunded wars; tinkle-down, voodoo economics – HAH!

    You guys don't know jack about foreign policy: Turning the world against us; creating the perfect recruiting tool for extremists with our views and actions; ignoring North Korea; taking an FU attitude towards anyone who doesn't agree with us – HAH!

    You guys don't know jack about military policy – Letting bin Laden escape into Pakistan; ignoring the generals in the lead-up to Iraq; having a bunch of Chicken Hawks in charge of two wars; thinking we'd be greeted as liberators and the whole operation would take less than 6 months; sending our troops into harm's way without the proper protection – HAH!

    Lindsey, you guys are a joke, whose policies and ideas are PROVEN FAILURES!

    Only ignorant, hateful, unthinking fools are listening to you!

    December 20, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  16. Steve, Chelsea, MI

    This from the guy that deregulated the banks. Thanks for the economy!

    December 20, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  17. ThinkAgain

    Typical GOP response: Whine, complain and lie!

    December 20, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  18. Lori

    Hey Lindsey, remember this?

    "This will break him, this will be his Waterloo". Jim DeMint – Republican in ref to Obama's attempt at making healthcare affordable to everyone.

    Remember the memo Republicans passed around on how to "destroy" Obama? Delay, delay, delay....

    As usual, the Repubs continue to put Party Before Country and Profits Before People.

    Repubs have had generations to improve the system, yet chose to accept insurance company bribes as "campaign donations" instead of doing what's best for We The People.

    Every small business owner I know can't afford to pay for healthcare for their employees anymore. They are clsoing up shop now. More layoffs. Yet, while claiming any dem plan is bad for small business, we know the Repubs are really speaking about large businesses aka their Corporate Masters.

    I vote for no more taxpayer funded healthcare for Congress until they vote for affordable healthcare for the rest of us.

    TERM LIMITS FOR CONGRESS NOW!!!!!

    December 20, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  19. Allen

    The reason that “This bill personifies the worst of Washington,” Senator is because the republicans have done everything they can to stand in the way of doing what is best for the American people. Therefore the bill has been perverted to pander to republican whining. It "personifies the worst of Washington" because republicans are "the worst of Washington".

    December 20, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  20. a voter

    The Republicans had 8 years to run this country in the ground. They have absolutely no credibility left. Lindsey tried immigration reform and as soon as Limbaugh coughed he gave up. Republicans can make war, they can poison the environment, they spent more than democrats, but they can't solve anything.

    December 20, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  21. Alan Goldstein

    When you've got one entire party that says NO to everything, you do what you gotta do to get things done.

    December 20, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  22. j

    I might like to mention that I've heard the Canadian health care bill for their current system was only 8 pages.

    December 20, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  23. S M R

    This guy voted for Bush 98% of the time, obviously a Corporate SHEEP.

    December 20, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  24. ThinkAgain

    Lindsey and the rest of the GOP just don't want to help the American people.

    They want to help the health insurance CEOs kepp their (on average) $14 million/year salaries.

    They want to continue letting the insurance companies put shareholders ahead of the health of Americans.

    They believe in money over people.

    It's that simple. And Lindsey and others will try anything to stop health care reform.

    December 20, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  25. ThinkAgain

    If Lindsey and the rest of the Republicans are so darned concerned about health care reform, then why didn't they propose it the last 30 years?

    ..... I'm waiting .....

    Exactly: They don't want it. They want to keep the status quo where a person can lose everything they've worked their lives for should they or a family member get sick.

    It's all part of the Republican strategy of destroying the Middle Class. They want us poor, uneducated and desperate, so we're easier to rule, while the Republicans continue to give money to the wealthy.

    It's the only logical conclusion, based on the Republican policies of the last 30 years and what's they've done to our country.

    December 20, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
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