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 And it's really been replaced by seedy Chicago politics, when you think about it, backroom deals that amount to bribes.”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

    Lila is totally right; I've come to the same conclusion. Whenever a Republican says anything negative about President Obama, his policies or the Democratic Party, they are simply talking into the mirror.

    Projection and transference are handy tools, used by people incapable of admitting their own faults and problems. The GOP keeps telling themselves they are the ones who care about our country, all their actions to the contrary.

    December 20, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  2. katiec

    Graham fails to mention the millions of dollars wasted in hospitals due to negligence or totaly lack of desire to rein in costs, unnecessary, unbeneficial tests, and having a free rein for far too
    many years.
    And, the doctors who charge exhuberant fees for their services, and, even lack of service. The hospitals, doctors line their pockets with charges for what never happened. Read your bills sometmes. Am sure you will be amazed at what is added.

    December 20, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  3. Big Red

    Let's see, first the electorate provides a strong endorsement of the need for change, Then to the astonishment of nearly everyone, the Republican party and its fringe base declare publicly their desire for Obama to fail and their intention to vote "No!" on any and all changes proposed by Democrats. Then we have Senator McCain expressing outrage that Senator Franken would not allow Senator Lieberman additional time to lobby on behalf of insurance companies and calling that denial "unprecedented," when the record clearly shows McCain doing precisely the same thing to a Democrat in 2002 during debate the debate about whether to invade Iraq. Now we have Senator Graham, one of those who led the charge for impeachment of President Clinton on charges resulting from behavior that was a private matter among consenting adults but who remains silent in the face of much more serious sexual behavior-reated charges against two of his Republican Senate colleagues, whines in public about Democratic plans to reform the badly broken US health care system.

    So goes the history of the Party of No-No (no to any legislation proposed by Democrats, but no ideas or policies of their own)

    December 20, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  4. Carole

    Graham SHUT UP!!!!!! After the WMD that were NOT in Iraq, you have alot of nerve. When I look at Republicans and Bush/Cheney I need to take a shower.

    Republican Party = Pale, Male and Stale (Corporate Friend)

    December 20, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  5. vwrtb

    Thank you graham for reminding the American people that less government regulation is an unrealistic fantasy... Maybe in the days with George Washington and Thomas Jefferson it was feasible but with a country with a population over 300,000,000 people ... Not so much... I bet every one of those people who has scams named after them was a die hard republican... Time to get with the program dinosaurs ... by the way... My premiums just went up again...

    December 20, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  6. unemployed by Obama and now a TPN member

    We all knew this and cannot do anything about it because you have the traitor obama along with Reid, Dodd, Pelosi and the rest of his crooks. The wanna be dictator of America wants to control your life and with his I Will Fine You if you dont buy my ObamaCare attitude then dont pay they will jail you. I dont care Fine Me, Jail Me but remember that the American people put you there and we can remove you and the removal starts with midterm elections in 2010 . VOTE THEM OUT!

    December 20, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  7. Rick

    The party on no is up to it again., spreading fear and hate.

    December 20, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  8. Rob Breisch

    So typical of the overtly corrupt GOP to crtiize any effort by the Democrats to do anything to improve the quality of life in America or try to reform the health care issues.
    The GOP supports and bankrolls corruption in insurance reforms and foreign policy.
    For those of you too young to know the hows and whys of us being at war in the middle east-as an example-do some research-it was a GOP president that authorized Osama bin Laden funds to fight in Afghanistan, and funded Saddam in Iraq, funded and trained terrorists in both regions in the 1980s,passed bills to ensure insurance companies screw us all out of benefits.
    Most of you are unaware that no member of congress pays into social security or benefits from it-nor do any of them pay a cent for their health care! We the tax payers bankroll their coverages!
    they have zero incentive to reform any policy that has no financial outcome from their paychecks!!
    The GOP is highly corrupt! Pork begins in a GOP reps office to feed the greedy hands of the rich at the expense of everyone else.
    Ever wonder why its illegal not to have car insurance but legal for the insurance company to stall or deny your claims?
    Ever wonder why we ended up in Iraq or Afghanistan?
    Or why on 911 our entire military was on stand down?
    Ask Bush & Rumsfeld!
    You may not like the fact that this attack was an inside job to get support to overthrow Iraq and get into Afghanistan..history will prove this in 20 well as any future failures to any government reform package that any Democrat tries to put into practice.
    The GOP uses mafia like practices to ruin any measure that benefits the common man,woman or child in America.

    December 20, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  9. kgeukes Michigan

    Ok's time for the people in this country to take it back from the party of no!! Any state that has a republican 'em out!!! put in an independent or Dem...let them actually go out and try to find a job!!!!! John must be a rethug because Dems are the only ones that want this country to get back on its feet...I am so tired of the whiners in the Rethug party of NO!!!! Get off your asses and put forth the so-called plan you SAY you have but the people have YET to see...or STFP!!!!!

    December 20, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  10. mike

    When all the Democrats above can only bad mouth Republicans, it becomes very obvious that the only way they can contribute is to ignore the "merits" of the health care bill. Not a one of you has anything good to say about the bill....only negative contributions about Republicans.

    So is the health care bill worth the paper it is printed on?

    December 20, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  11. normajean

    Well, if anyone should know about "seedy back room dealings" it would have to be Lindsey Graham. The Republicans are the last people in this country that should be calling names . At this point in the political game, they are masters of lies, innuendoes, do nothings,name calling, incites of all varieties, but my favorite"The Party Of NO ". I firmly believe that the next election will show that a large number of voters will have become disillusioned by the Repubs and will change their thinking while casting votes. If they just remember that their party sat on their hands and were doing nothing to help their own constituents while trying to put down the opposition.What ever happened to the two party system working for the betterment of everyone?

    December 20, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  12. CBR

    Will someone please ask Senator Graham what the Republicans have been doing since last January – nothing but stopping any progress on any problems in the United States. In my way of thinking that is far worse than what the Democrats are doing. For any Senator representing any state to sit on his hands and do nothing for his constituents is not only mind-boggling but a misuse of public trust and funds.

    They do not have to agree but they should be willing to debate and work with others for compromise. The Republicans seem to be tucked into their own little corner refusing to look at the whole picture.

    December 20, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  13. Xavier

    I guess Graham would know all a bout being seedy, he wrote the manual for the GOP.

    December 20, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  14. Ed

    Why do the liberals bother writing comments here? All they do is say "Republicans are worse" and start the name calling. What about some specifics we can discuss. If any of you are proud of how the Democrats in the House and Senate have handled this health care bill, then you are the reason we have slimy politics as usual in Washington.

    December 20, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  15. Sox Fan

    Change you can believe in? Well I believe we are seeing a change in Washington...a Healthcare Reform bill being passed is a change from decades of avoiding and blocking attempts at reform. Sounds like a change to me! It may not be a rebuild, but its a nice foundation for the future~!

    December 20, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  16. Ren from Baltimore

    Senator Graham,

    Stop and listen to yourself and your Republican cohorts. DeMint at least voices the seething hatred of anything non-Republican, right out loud, no punches pulled, not double-talk. "Let's bring Obama _dowwwwn!_ he tweets, writes, and shouts-all without a whimper of disapproval from you or other party leaders.

    Your fear-mongering, big-business-at-all-costs, "kill the country to save it" b.s. is coming to its inevitable end. We are so on to your sick games. Let country and its morals thrive again, will you? You can explain to your insurance lobbyists later what happened...for now, leave us all alone.

    December 20, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  17. Roger

    We have just witnessed the most disgraceful event in this history of politics. Senator Graham is so right to be upset and his points are directly to the point and are cogent. Yes, Chicago politics is back with the added twist of thuggery. I wonder how the rest of the world will now consider our democracy?

    December 20, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  18. Pete

    "backroom deals that amount to bribes"

    So, let me get this straight, Sen. Graham. You are aghast over pork-barrel spending? I do not see anything that you're describing with all that vitriol that steps off this well-trodden path.

    Pork is not new, nor is it really news. It is business as usual in Washington. The Republicans did it (and still do it), and the same goes for the Democrats.

    Pork is just evil, right? Well, I'm going to say no. There's a lot of stuff in there that's fluff, yes, but there's a lot of needed stuff in there too. And quite often, if that needed project isn't getting funded via pork it's not getting funded. So, that's one.

    If these issues weren't addressed in this "back-alley" way, we would have only one option for addressing them. Bigger government. That's another.

    So, it's not as easy to get rid of as McCain might lead you to believe. And I am slightly offended, but at this point mostly bored with another Republican ranting about how this season's crop of Democrats just magically invented everything bad about Washington.

    Do I think pork is a good thing? No. Do I think Lindsey Graham was offering answers on how to address pork in congress? I sure didn't hear any.

    December 20, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  19. Debbie

    LOL Talk about seedy! Umm Mr. Graham have you looked in the mirror today?

    December 20, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  20. cobra Montana

    It is time for the left wing whiners to quit whining and tell obuma to quit trying to force this health bill on to the people. I know the left does not want to acknowledge that most of the people don't want this but pelosi and Reid keep buying the votes, disgusting. Time to clean all the liars out of Washington. Hurry 2010

    December 20, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  21. Annie, Atlanta

    This is just priceless. Graham of the obstructionist party who has no plan, who has had no plan other than tax cuts for the rich, deregulation of those same rich, and wars galore, is accusing the Obama administration of doing a terrible job running the country. Is he for real? And does he think we're that stupid?

    December 20, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  22. Justin - NC

    Graham represents the worst of Washington politics. First he claims to hate how Supreme Court confirmations are bogged down by slanderous accusations when Republican leaning Roberts is up for nomination, but turns right around and uses those same attacks against liberal leaning Sotomayor.

    Secondly, instead of Republicans trying to come to the table with Obama and Democrats, they are unanimous in their opposition to health reform, even saying we don't need it despite all evidence to the contrary (such as health care is the leading cause of bankruptcy in America).

    And if he wants to talk about bribes and backroom deals, look no further than George W. Bush, who orchestrated a WAR using phony evidence, conflicting reasons for war, and false evidence before he can criticize Obama.

    People, remember, Republicans got us in this economic mess, they're not trying to get us out of this mess, so don't put them back in come 2010.

    Obama/Biden 2012 (the winning ticket again!)

    December 20, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  23. WDM

    To pass a bill that is critical to the nations survival is considered seedy by the Republicans who would prefer to have a health care system that continues to pad the pockets of the Health Insurance Mafia.

    December 20, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  24. john q

    Republicans hate not being in power. There isn't a thing any Democrat or other opposition party if it were elected, could do right. They are power first, and issues second. Always have been, always will be.

    December 20, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  25. Steve

    What hypocrisy. The GOP is offering us nothing but the status quo. The bill is an incredible boon to insurance companies thanks to all the lousy compromises to the Party of No.

    December 20, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
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