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 And it's really been replaced by seedy Chicago politics, when you think about it, backroom deals that amount to bribes.”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

    This coming from one of the key authors of the Graham-Leech-Bailey act, the legislation that over turned Glass-Stegall. Convince me that not back room seedy politics went into that legislation. Look how that has benefited all Americans.

    December 20, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  2. Brent

    I continue to find the status of our government to be reprehensible. Instead of two sides working together to further the agenda of this great nation, they instead decide to mudsling at one another. Personally, as an independent, I hold the Rebulican side responsible. This is a party that doesn't seem to want to do much of anything outside of constitutional ammendments against gay marriage, flag burning or abortion. It is obvious the intent is to discredit democrats who are trying to address the problems this country has.

    December 20, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  3. John

    So the Democrats are using sham accounting? That is not good. But compared to the $8 Trillion Medicare part D bill, when Republicans handed the entire bill to our children, this seems like a vast improvement.

    December 20, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  4. NH

    It is a noble thing to stop this criminal president and his communist cadre of world government criminals who do nothing but lie lie lie. Thank God for SOME Republicans who are trying to save us from this PURPOSEFUL attempt to destroy America by monstrous debt spending and 100% entitlements. Nothing could be seedier than what these people are doing to ram this crap through... and every single one of them is a crook, corrupt, sex criminal or otherwise.

    SHAME SHAME SHAME on you progressives pukes. Go fly your communist flags elsewhere and leave the rest of us the hell alone. You are all going to be sorry in 2010

    December 20, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  5. James D

    People..Kent Conrad the person who calls this bill a ponzi scheme.........is a democrat.....let me make that clear HE"S a Democrat !! you know like Obama, Clinton,Biden , ect NOT G.O.P like Bush,Bush,and Gore.. get it !!! ...say it with me Dem/ o/ crat ...Bush, and Gore have nothing to do with this Obamanation of a bill nor the shady backroom bribes that go with it , oh and lets stop hearing about the Bush's war !!!! Your supposed super hero president has had a year to do something and has done nothing to change anything except his approval rateing which is now less than 50% looks like Obama's blinding light is fadeing even for Democrats

    December 20, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  6. Fed Up

    Chicago politics is right. Increasing the deficit every time another vote is added is right up their alley. Why not? No big deal. It's not their money. It's yours. Wake up and smell the stink.

    December 20, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  7. oldtimer

    The new american way, gangster style politics. When you know that the legal way will never work, you resort to illegal tactics. That's what politics is all about for this new administration. But i blame all our elected officials in this scam. Good thing elections are coming and there will be 57 million seniors that won't forget.

    December 20, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  8. Jay

    Millions of uninsured Americans will gain coverage under this bill. In fact, 94% of Americans would have health insurance, and the non partisan congressional business office says the bill will reduce deficits over the next 20 years....to the tune of over $100 billion. The GOP should support it.

    Once this bill passes, I hope the two parties will work together on tort reform, which should also help lower health care costs.

    December 20, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  9. Reggie

    The Dems will suffer in the next election, but we, the American people, will suffer for years due to this horible bill.

    December 20, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  10. This bill will die...

    Wow..10% unemployment (going to get worse)...12T budget defecit (more spending by one president then all others combined)...shady practices to pass this montrosity of a health reform bill (closed doors, no transparency, lack of bipartisianship)...

    ...and the liberals still blame Bush (when it was actually Carter, Clinton, Bush and BOTH parties of Congress fault) and they keep the blind eye turned towards "socialism." This is the greatest country in the world and the principles that developed this wonderful country to be what it is today are being DESTROYED by the ones CURRENTLY in charge. Unreal....

    Thank God I'm not one of them and that I fall into the "majority" of this wonderful country.

    December 20, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  11. Jim

    I didn't hear Senator Graham calling President Bush's politics seedy. These are the guys who forced all the lobbying firms in Washington to fire their employees who were Democrats. These are the guys who promised not to use the filibuster except in dire circumstances yet they are filibustering every single piece of legislation before the Senate. The Republican party is seedy incarnate.

    December 20, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  12. Wake Up !

    Seriously people... wake up! None of you have a problem with a $300 million dollar payoff (bribe) to Sen. Landrieu? Where do think that money comes from – all of us taxpayers! Or the bribe to Sen. Nelson to keep the air force base open in Nebraska for his vote. Good grief – they are all crooks... I don't care what party you belong to – VOTE THEM ALL OUT IN 2010 !

    December 20, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  13. tee

    The GOP is at it again.....I'm shaking in my boots.......NOT

    December 20, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  14. Jacob

    while he points the finger at "seedy" he must realize the four other fingers are pointing right back at him!

    December 20, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  15. Larry

    Funny how even when Axelrod doesn't disclaim that a super sweet deal was made to one senator in one state to get this passed that there are still posters on here who call it GOP rumor mongoring. Grow a brain and make a comment with substance for a change.

    December 20, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  16. J murphy

    It's amazing how blind so many of you are...

    all you can see is Dem or Rep... forget what's gonna happen to this country...

    There is no way anyone can looking a this whole health care deal without bias and say that it is a good thing for this country... talk to any small business owner... Change is not always a good thing people...

    I DO NOT want the opportunity to say I told you so because it will be too late...

    December 20, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  17. B. Stratton

    Remember your words, whether they be pro or con, they may become thorns of ignorance as time passes.

    December 20, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  18. La Chatte

    Pretty much the only things that makes me gag worse that the Obama administration and the spineless Dumocrats are Lindsey Graham and the Repubs. Worthless all!

    December 20, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  19. Steve

    Let's see, in 1935 the Republicans said the same thing about Social Security. In 1965 they said the same thing about Medicare. In 1993 they said Clinton's tax bill would ruin the country. In 2002 they said that their tax cuts would make the economy hum and balance the budget. They don't seem to get much right. Why should anyone listen to them now? And Republicans complaining about back room deals? Seriously? In 1994 when they took over the Congress there were 4126 earmarks. By 2005 there were over 15,000. There whole philosophy is base on people forgetting the past.

    December 20, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  20. Jon

    Democrats are too funny! I honestly don't know if they actually read this specific article or just logged on to vent. Obama said he would have all of this on CSPAN in regards to a Health bill. I haven't seen it on and I have looked for it! Nancy Pelosi (She's a winner) also said everyone in the house would have time to read the bill, that was a lie. So now that the Senate is working on a bill why did they not include all of the senators in this closed door meeting? HHHmmmmm I wonder?!?!?!?!?!?
    So the idiot above saying the Republicans offered nothing, how do you know? Were you in the closed door meeting with Reid and gang?
    Then you have idiots talking about Bush!!! WHY? What does this bill have to do with George Bush? Then the same idiot talks about our two wars, does he realize the President (Obama) is sending more troops and that were still in Iraq? I doubt it!
    I would say just about everyone in the house and senate are just about corrupt. You might have a few good people from both parties but that is about it. None of them are working for the best interest for 'US' or our country. People are fed up with our government!

    December 20, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  21. jared

    you never heard a peep out of these lindsey graham"s 8 yrs ago when these same republicans ran through the money with their tax breaks and the war profits. his and the good ol boys reaped heavy rewards and now these same folks are trying to flip the script and lay the blame on the democrats . why can't there be trem limits. this person speaks of /and like a fool. a"plantation aristocrat"

    December 20, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  22. steve

    These nutjob liberals who are in denial will defend this highly suspect president at all costs, how pathetic!

    December 20, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  23. Four and The Door

    “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.
    _______________________________________________________
    This from the architect of Obama'a "Change". Ironic, isn't it that they said," Vote us in so that we can change the way Washington does its business!" and then when they see it is only getting more perverse the way they run it, they say,"Hey, this garbage will never change!". 60% of Americans duped by their lies. Once.

    December 20, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  24. Rush Limbaugh

    When Carolina farmers stop taking subsidies, talk to me about health care subsidies for Big Red

    December 20, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  25. Ruty

    Hey, Lindsey take a look around your state. Talk about seedy politics! How about Demint, Sanford and Wilson - to name a few. I would be ashamed to be from South Carolina. You need to stuff it old man.

    December 20, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
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