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 And it's really been replaced by seedy Chicago politics, when you think about it, backroom deals that amount to bribes.”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. Tony T

    I'm glad the Republicans are calling it what it is. Keep showing Obama's words and how he has lied all thru this process. Beck said it a long time ago, Chicago style politics, He couldn't have been more right. Dem Bloodbath 2010 coming to a voting booth near you!!!

    December 20, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  2. S Callahan- God IS helping America!

    David A you have so disappointed me.....yes that is the way it is...but it doesn't have to must do things that are right and fair..anything short of that can not have God's blessings.You know that!

    December 20, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  3. KO

    Graham is just a sore loser, like the rest of the Republicans. The Republicans are also discovering what happens when Chicago Democrats get elected–stuff gets done. They better get used to it.

    December 20, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  4. Peter s

    I think most Republican are decendants of EVE, who ate the forbidden fruit later to deny she did!. A typical republican will say something today and tomorrow he/she will say I was misquoted. Please, let me remind you that you had 8 years that is 2920 days to come up with a healthcare bill but what did you come up with? Halliburton, black water! ,four thousand of our soilders dead, and millions of iraqians dead ! and now here come like a saint talking about the healthcare? Pathetic!!!

    December 20, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  5. Tony T

    If this was a good legitimate bill, why would the Dums need to pay off bribes, have midnight votes and try to push on thru? Its actually funny how stupid these people are. The loony libs in the House barely passed their POS, and this one will barely eek by along party lines. Hopefully Byrd can't get thru the snow!!!!

    December 20, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  6. Tom

    Poor, poor, poor Republicans! It's about time the Dems cram something down the Repubs throats....I only hope they choke to death on it!

    December 20, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  7. krex

    No one is surprised at votes being BOUGHT
    every socialistic run government allows this type
    of crime to go unpunished......No true democratic
    government would stoop to such low levels, at least they

    December 20, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  8. Lou from CT

    Once again, Republican splatter theory politics are in progress.

    Sen. Graham sounds like a bratty child...

    Hey Sen. Graham, maybe your party should try to reach out and WORK with the Obama Administration. Your party sounds whinier every day.

    Until you can learn to work with the Democrats – don't go away mad, just go away.

    December 20, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  9. Mike S., New Orleans

    Where was Graham's concern when Bush, Cheney and Rove used 'Enron Accounting' to run our country into the ground?

    December 20, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  10. Stan Coleite

    The Republican Party has clearly stood AGAINST anything designed to help the average person, from minimum wage legislation, social security, to health care reform. THAT is seedy. The tragedy is that in their appeal to greed, many Americans buy it...and then get hurt...Reagan Democrats anyone? If it weren't so sad it would be laughable. On the verge of at least some reform and the GOP can't stand it...

    December 20, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  11. JR

    If so Graham, then he learned it from you republicans.

    December 20, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  12. Licensed Healh Care Professional

    Fortunately, the group I work for DOES NOT EXCEPT medicaid/medicare patients. The reason being...The Medicaid/Medicare system routinely either pays late or not at all. The current GOVERNMENT run systems are so poorly managed that they pay private companies ("contractors") several hundred million dollars a year to to fix their mistakes.

    On the actual health care side, I get to see some of the fine work done by the "physicians" that provide services under the Medicaid/Medicare system. Oh, I forgot to mention that I see them after they receive their legal settlements (various reasons) and go to real professionals to receive a proper diagnosis and corrective surgery/treatment.

    For those of you without the medical training to recognize quality medical care...good luck with your government run health care.

    December 20, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  13. Chris

    Guilt-by-association, McCarthyism mentality is alive and well in the modern GOP. I have heard this kind of remarks over and over again coming from the Right. They label Obama as a Chicago Politician – and all the corruption, graft, and slimy deals that suggests. No proof of any of this, of course. Just the fact that Obama is a Politician with a background involving Chicago is good enough for the Right. After all, every person in Illinois who is anyway involved in politics must be crooked as a three dollar bill, right?

    It's the Republicans who wrote the book on seedy politics. Here's a handy rule of thumb, anytime a Republican accuses a Democrat of something, it actually means the Republican is the one guilty of it.

    December 20, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  14. banderson

    Lindsey Graham must be kidding. This is the type stuff that the repubs have been pulling for years. Heck, Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman are actually repubs so this stuff shouldn't matter to them.

    December 20, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  15. Bill

    When is this president going to stop whining about Bush and do his job? He knew (or should have known) the situation before he ran for this job. He got the job, now maybe he could just start doing his job.

    December 20, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  16. chicago4obama

    What a joke. Look at the backward red neck state he represents. John DeMint and his stupid remark about Obama and Waterloo, Joe Wilson and "shut up" and of course the star of the state "Mark Sanford" We admit we have our idiots also in Gov Ryan and Gov Rod, but we are smart enough and educated enough not to throw stones. If South Carolina disappeared it would not be a loss. They contribute nothing just like Lindsey to this great country.

    December 20, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  17. Jeremy

    Hah, talk about the pot calling the kettle black! And bringing up Enron as an argument against Democratic policy! Hilarious!

    December 20, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  18. jb

    all those who gather that there is no republican side, there is no democrat side, raise your voices. The spectacle of which side is evil Is blinding all of you.

    December 20, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  19. Jose

    I'm sure if Jesus and Santa would bring toys to every boy and girl during Christmas without costing anyone a dime, the democrats would be for it, the republicans would be fighting to stop it and others would be claiming there is no evidence that there is Santa.

    Congress (especially republicans) – there are many of us who are so tired of your petty politics. If you don't want us to have insurance, than please do the right thing and stop all insurance coverage for each of you until this is settled. Why should you get insurance when the rest of us can't?

    December 20, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  20. Confucuis

    And how much in contribution did the good senator accept from the greedy, gluttonous, gleeful insurance industry?? He has the GALL to criticize Obama's policies in regard to 'running this country'. But one must ask about the disastrous past eight years when the good senator and his cronies ( including my own wonderful senator from LA–that paragon of virtue and family values–Davy Vitter) were in charge. When your toooo busy accepting $$$ from lobbyist, the welfare of the citizenry is nae important. What parasites!!!

    December 20, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  21. David Jones

    A South Carolinian politician talking about seedy politics?

    December 20, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  22. Jeff

    How many of you defenders of this piece of garbage live in Nebraska or Louisiana? If you leave any where else, ask youself this: how much did MY senator extort from the Dems to buy his/her vote? If you live in any other state, are you happy paying for the Nebraska/Louisiana perks while your taxes go up and your state doesn't get the same perks.

    I thought buying votes was a felony.

    December 20, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  23. EJ

    No sir, you're reaction represents the worst of Washington. They won the campaign because Americans voted for them. Then, they move to pass health care reform as polls show most Americans want them to do. Isn't that the best of Washington? The worst would be GOP scare tactics and a failure to participate in improving the country during the past year.

    December 20, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  24. Common Sense

    Wow, does anybody that isn't a political hack comment here? There's not a single intelligent comment.

    If you want to debate the merits of the proposed bill, that's fine, but since it's obvious that nobody posting on this has any idea what the CBO did to get to its numbers, quit attacking, defending, and commenting in general.

    CNN political commentators (the ones posting the inane comments on this site – the paid commentators are a different situation all together) are no different than homer SEC football fans – they just root for their side and shout out whatever rhetoric they are told will sway others to their side.

    Here's a tip: if you can't explain how an HMO works or what an actuary does or the role Moody's plays in healthcare or what a board of directors actually does or what the CBO does to determine it's estimated costs, you should keep your mouth shut. People need informed comments, not this drivel that keeps spewing forth from both sides of the aisle.

    December 20, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  25. John Anthony Castro

    President Obama is forced to deal with the Senate the way the Senate has designed itself to be treated with, and unfortunately, it resembles bribery, but this is the reality of how things get done in politics.

    This is no reflection upon the character of the President or any individual Senator. It is a reflection upon the system. At least they're not lying to the American People like Bush and sending our young ones off to die for a lie.

    The people need healthcare, and at the end of the day, we will fall on the same side which our Lord would stand. I don't think Jesus would tell a woman dying from cancer that she should have acquired healthcare before developing an incurable disease and evict her from the hospital.

    December 20, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
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