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 And it's really been replaced by seedy Chicago politics, when you think about it, backroom deals that amount to bribes.”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

    Republicans are hoping to destroy anything the Democrats can possibly accomplish so they can look back in 4 years and say "look they are just as bad as we are."

    December 20, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  2. JimCA

    When the facts are on your side, argue the facts.

    If not, but history is on your side, quote the historians.
    If not, but the people are behind you, appeal to the populace.
    If not, but the rules are with you, exploit them.

    If none of the above are with you, delay, delay, delay.

    When you can't delay any more, whine.

    December 20, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  3. Loren in CA

    Senator Pot...I'd like to introduce you to Senator Kettle.

    December 20, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  4. Patrick

    I am sure that the American people will conclude that the GOP is no longer a relevant party, as the Democratic Party has demonstrated its diversity, with the progressives- who want Public option, medicare, single-payer etc; Conservatives – Abortion issues, cost, budget deficit; and the Moderates – in between, the party has shown that it can do the work all by itself.

    Who needs a party that doesn't want to do anything? After all, these folks were sent to DC to solve problems.

    December 20, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  5. sara

    Beware! The "other" name for the PREZ is "SEEDY". They've ran their other Derogatory Names for him to past "STALE". Just WATCH and LISTEN....

    December 20, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  6. Bob

    Every member of the Democratic party should be up for treason charges. Not only are they passing a bill the majority of Americans are against they are doing it with bribes right in front of the citizens of this country. The bill itself has been hiden behind closed doors. Congress and Marxist Obama are taking over this country. Things could get very real. Let's just hope someone with the money can sue these b-–ds and carry it right to the supreme court. As far as paying for someone elses health care it's not my job. And no I don't want my taxes to pay for this socialism.

    December 20, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  7. Craig

    Sounds like Sour Grapes to me. A bit like the pot calling the kettle black. They can't stand that the people threw them out of power for all of their transgressions for the last 8 years of Bush. Funny how things turn around.

    December 20, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  8. Death Panel Sarah

    .....and the reptilicons aren't being 'seedy' in their numerous attempts to block this legislation?????

    December 20, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  9. Justin Boyd

    I believe Lindsay Graham and almost the entire GOP voted for a completely unfunded prescription drug benefit that will cost FAR MORE than the current healthcare legislation and do far less for Americans.

    And he thinks he's in a position to complain about bad accounting?

    If anything here is a sham, it's the GOP.

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

    Another term or "backroom deals" is "legislative process".

    That's how it works, and this disingenuous shill knows it better than than anyone.

    Get a grip, Lindsey.

    I really, really hate this crop of Rpugs. Liars, all (save Collins and Snowe, God belss 'em).

    December 20, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  11. thompson

    If anyone could recognize "seedy" politics, it's Republicans.

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

    I might not be so harsh as many of you, but I simply cannot understand who the GOP thinks they're convincing. The Democrats put forth a neutered bill, (which is better than nothing in my opinion) all because they wanted to find some kind of consensus. When Nancy Pelosi is giving you abortion control (one of the many concessions) and the GOP still wants to blow up the world, then I have no reason to care about what Mr. Graham has to say. Unfortunately, history tells us that this will NOT be the end of the GOP. And I don't want to see that anyway really, but they are seriously spiraling right now ...

    December 20, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  13. GuitRS

    Would people please realize that Bush had help from the democrats in his moves in office? So it is that evil mastermind (yet still called an idiot) with the help of the Dems that made the policies the last 8 of 9 years. This administration has a Dem majority all the way around, so they really have no one to blame but themselves. Wait until the elections next year, I think there will be a power shift. The dems just want to get this done ASAP before that happens.

    December 20, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  14. FL Libertarian

    So this is OK with most of you? I know you love to bacj republicans for any reason at all, but how about actually defending Nelson's actions if it's so defensable? I'd love to hear about it.

    December 20, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  15. MVDCT

    Sen. Graham is exactly right – It's beyond the pale that Nebraska is the only state that gets a free ride. You are a weak king Harry Reid.

    December 20, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  16. rwa20

    Sen. Nelson is a sellout! See the true colors of Reid and Obama and Vegas/Chicago crooked politics.

    December 20, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  17. joe z

    Warmongering! GOP at there best.

    December 20, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  18. Jason

    Again, all we get is finger pointing from Republicans, not solutions.

    I've written my Senators...Jim Inhoffe and Tom Coburn...asking them what their health care ideas are and I've yet to get any solutions from them.

    I did get an email from Coburn, but it was just a list of all the things wrong with the Democrats current health care bill.

    Republicans, here's your chance to win me over. I work two part time jobs and currently have to pay for all my medical expenses out of my own pocket...100%.

    Without saying how bad the Dems are, can any Republican...politician or Republican supporter reading this message...tell me why I should listen to your side?

    What solutions can you offer me?

    All I know is that at least the Dems are trying to fix health care.

    December 20, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  19. PM Obama

    Boooo Hooooo! Cry baby GOP to the End!

    December 20, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  20. Keeth in California

    No, the Dems are engaging in seedy GOP tactics. You get what you give, Graham.

    December 20, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  21. Randy, San Francisco

    We should thank George Bush and the GOP for their incompetence and malfeasance for 8 long years. It was due to the Amercian people's disatisfaction with the GOP that we have Democrats in control of both houses. Without George Bush, there would be no historic health care reform within reach and that is his real legacy.

    December 20, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  22. Patriot

    Don't you just love it when she whines? lol

    The republicons have been know to shut down the govement when those spoiled brats couldn't get their way.

    The republicons got the country deep in mess; yet they refuse the yes votes that could get US out of the mess they created. Talk about being UN-PATRIOTIC!

    It is still a mistery why some Americans would allow the republicon wrecking crew leadership over them.

    December 20, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  23. Patrick

    This from a member of the Republican party, a party known for seedy politics. The same party that was so bitter the last time a Democrat was in the oval office, that they spent millions of tax payers dollars to dig up dirt on him.

    December 20, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  24. FairtoAll

    "Seediness" abounds in all of Congress, not just those from Chicago. Since congressmen and women are from the whole country, they are all seedy. Congress is the body that welcomes the millions it receives from corporate fundraisers. The same greedy, seedy corporations that get upset because they are criticized for not being allowed to pay million dollar bonuses to retain the "talent" that colluded to create the toxic instruments that they helped to permeate the stock market with. Our Congress is so fractured and inefficient that if one party passes legislation the other party would have liked to get credit for, that other party has to accuse the successful party of "seedy" politics. Our legislature has been in a sad state affairs. I do not see it getting better. We, the people, are suffering for it and will continue to suffer because our legislative branch has become so partisan and confrontational, that it has become toxic itself.

    December 20, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  25. Clay

    ...and this from the man who personally conducted the witch hunt against Clinton and asked all of the nastiest questions during the congressional hearings. Well, I guess nobody knows seedy politics like republicans. Sounds more like a turf war grudge match to me.

    December 20, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
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