Graham defiant over constitutional amendment
July 17th, 2011
11:12 AM ET
3 years ago

Graham defiant over constitutional amendment

(CNN) - Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Sunday that a balanced budget amendment, one of the provisions of the “cut cap and balance” pledge, is the only solution to stave off default on the country’s loans.

“The real deal to limit spending and get us in balance would be an amendment to our constitution,” Graham said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Without that we’re just going to talk to each other and run America into the ground.”


The pledge, which includes budget cuts, caps on future spending and a balanced budget amendment to the constitution, would likely pass through the Republican-controlled House and face more obstacles getting through the Democratic-controlled Senate. But Graham said it could pass the upper chamber and is the only avenue through which the country will make the “hard choices” necessary to raise the debt ceiling, including tackling entitlement spending and closing some tax loopholes.

“Every two years, we jockey for the next election. We never make long, hard term decisions,” Graham told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.

Earlier on “State of the Union,” White House Budget Director Jacob Lew called the amendment “quite draconian.”

“What these amendments do is not just say you have to balance the budget, but it puts in place spending limitations that would force us to cut Social Security and Medicare more deeply than even the House budget resolution did,” Lew said.

On Friday President Barack Obama said political leaders do not need a constitutional amendment to “do our jobs.”

The White House and Congressional leaders are attempting to reach a deal before the government potentially defaults on its obligations August. 2. Republicans reject tax increases and Democrats will only agree to reforms in entitlement programs if wealthy Americans pay more in taxes.

Graham signaled there was room for the two parties to negotiate, including how much spending as a percentage of economic production would be allowed under spending caps, and how much congressional support a future effort to raise taxes would require to pass.

When asked if he would consider a "Plan B" to reach a deal, including a debt ceiling agreement being worked out by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, Graham said he is determined to pass the constitutional amendment.

“I am going to focus on Plan A. That, to me, is the only plan that will work. It's the real deal, not a big deal,” Graham said. “I think that’s going to be the Republican position."

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.


Filed under: Congress • Debt • Deficit • Lindsey Graham • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. oregonian101

    I think the debate on a balanced budget amendment is a good one, but, should not be a part of the current need for action to raise the debt ceiling. Even though it is a good debate the GOP knows that the amendment will not pass at this time, so, they can say "we tried, but, the dems would not pass what we suggested".
    Personally I don't think a balanced budget amendment would be good for the Fed. There are too many things that could happen that would create serious problems. Another Katrina, the predicted catastrophic earthquake off the west coast, etc. If there is a balanced budget amendment the Fed would be required to take money from other programs to pay for the costs of national emergencies. Since it the money would not come from national defense, guess who suffers the consequences: The money will come from Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security. In other words, the middle and lower middle class will feel the most pain.

    July 17, 2011 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  2. Canuck

    "the only solution to stave off default on the country’s loans" Really??

    What is it about increasing revenues (through increases in taxation) as well as spending cuts that these guys don't get???

    July 17, 2011 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  3. Randy, San Francisco

    Looks like Graham received marching orders from the Tea Party. Didn't take long for him to fall victim to the bullying tactics of the Tea Party. Even an old time politician like Graham is afraid to compromise with the Democrats.

    July 17, 2011 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  4. GI Joe

    TOTALLY different issue from raising the debt ceiling to continue making payments on the $4.4 trillion unfunded wars and the unfunded tax cuts.

    Get the debt ceiling done for a year or two and THEN start on debt reduction.

    WE OWE THE MONEY, WE HAVE TO PAY IT.

    Confusing apples and oranges is NOT good for this country.

    July 17, 2011 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  5. GI Joe

    Did Grover Norquist die and make him God over everyone?

    July 17, 2011 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  6. IKE

    We don't need a BBA. Obama is ready to sell-out his base, poor people, working and middle class. Give tax breaks to corporations that are actually creating jobs, don't give them to everybody.

    July 17, 2011 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  7. vic , nashville ,tn

    When Ronald Reagan took office unemployment rate was 7.5% by June 1983 it was 10.1% up by 2.6%
    Obama took office unemployment rate 7.8% (2009 Jan) now 9.2% up by 1.4%

    Same time period that mean obama is handling good

    “Cut cap and balance” pledge, is the only solution why they talking about this now because obama is in the white house

    Budget is Congress job

    July 17, 2011 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  8. Avram Baskin

    I find it ironic that Senator Graham is advocating for a balance budget amendment at this time. It's my recollection that the Republican controlled congress and President George W. Bush inherited a balanced budget from President Clinton. And then they proceeded to run up the biggest budget deficits in history. I don't recall Senator Graham calling for a balanced budget amendment when his own party was (literally) breaking the bank and wrecking the economy.

    July 17, 2011 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  9. emma

    Why are Graham and his GOP colleagues not understanding how impossible it will be to enact a balanced budget bill at all, and especially, before August 2?

    July 17, 2011 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  10. Tommy Jonq

    give these tea party retards what they ask for. shut it down. see how they like it.

    July 17, 2011 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  11. Ron in Asheville, NC

    While I am a fiscal conservative, it's pretty clear from the post-WWII period that a national economy has to have greater flexibility than a balanced budget concept would allow. Especially now, when global competition is so fast-paced, having no flexibility could–would–easily leave us literally dead in the water in terms of development, innovation, ability to respond to crisis, etc. On the face of it, a bad idea . . .

    July 17, 2011 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  12. stevetall

    Honestly, this pinhead wouldn't know a balanced budget if it walked over and said, 'Hello'! Just another Spend and Don't Tax Republican.

    July 17, 2011 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  13. Joan

    Your headline says it all. and that is the problem with all of the Republican leaders right now. They are all being defiant, stubborn, narrow minded and unwilling to compromise. They need to get a spine, tell the spoiled newbies in the Congress that their pledge is not good for the country and get serious about passing a sensible bill with spending cuts and added revenue. No matter how the Republicans try to spin it, everyone can plainly see that they are running scared from the Tea Party and that is dangerous for any party to be controlled so tightly by one segment. It is really interesting to see if the Republican leaders will finally really "lead".

    July 17, 2011 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  14. Anthony

    Before the Bush Administration, we had a balanced budget. If the GOP is serious, it should propose a balanced budget amendment that will allow tax cuts only they are balanced by spending cuts, and make it retroactive to the last time we had a balanced budget. This means no budget-busting Bush tax cuts, no funding of wars off budget, and no unfunded Medicare Part D. Since Republicans have done all of the above, they have to pay back what they did not pay for.

    July 17, 2011 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  15. Debbie

    1. Tea Party seems to think that we fought our war on No Taxes. That is in-accurate. We fought against a tyrant (King Geo) and we fought against taxation without representation. Every citizen 18 yrs and older has representation. Taxes were built into the Constitution. 2. Bal. Budget was an issue with the Federalists vs Anti-Federalists. Patrick Henry (Voice of Liberty & Anti-Federalist) spoke out against the proposed Constitution because it did not have a balanced budget or term limits written in it or a Bill of Rights. 2. One of Geo Washingtons first acts was to have Alexander Hamilton take on a Federal deficit by taking on the debt5 of the 13 colonies for their expenses in the Revolutionary war. (Hint war costs a ton of blood and a ton of $$) 3. Why is the GOP doing this now? 4. Takes years to have a Constitutional Amendment ratified by the states so the impact now is zero and the potential impact is unknown for years down the road. GOP version of kicking the can down the road. 5. Government budgets and Business budgets are not the same as Kitchen Household budgets. Gov/Bus run on accural and deficit budgets and borrow money monthly to make payroll and pay debts. They float $$ income/expenses every day. 6. Even household budgets take on debt. Few people buy a car or house outright but take on a loan. It's all political theater!

    July 17, 2011 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  16. Dahly

    Graham is a RINO in danger of losing his office because his "compromises" with dems has help to lead us into this Financial mess. Yes, raise the taxes on the top earners, they only pay 80% of our bills now. The fact 50% of our current workers pay nothing and most pick up government subsidies in addition haqs become the norm. Rather than push yourself to better financial success, punish those who do and vote to take their money! Lenin would be proud!

    July 17, 2011 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  17. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    why is it the GOP never wants to talk about the debt that would be added on with the Ryan Budget? They act like his plan is going to take our debt down to ZERO.

    July 17, 2011 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  18. The Elephant in The Room

    There is no economic linkage between cutting spending by "X" amount as a precondition to raising the debt ceiling by "Y" amount. The Republicans are the ones that have tried to insist on this linkage for the 1st time. Funny, they didn`t see the need to do this with Bush 41 or Bush 43 or Reagan 40. They are only doing it now for political theatre – not for the country`s benefit.

    They should draft the same 1 sentence debt ceiling bill that they have for the past presidents.

    Reducing the deficit is important but it should be a seperate discussion. Further, any deficit reduction will BE ACCELERATED by additional revenue; especially when those revenues come from recinding billion dollar subsidies to Exxon/ Mobil or restoring top tax rates to those of the Clinton-era; up a whopping 3% [pun intended]. It is intellectually dishonest for the GOP to claim that reducing deficits are good but that raising more revenue makes it worse.

    The balanced budget ammendment has been tried before and to bring it up again is politics. Study why it failed last time. Finally, the GOP will want to suspend it the next time they get a "war monger" in office.

    July 17, 2011 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  19. Just Sayin'

    “Without that we’re just going to talk to each other and run America into the ground.”

    The country is already run into the ground. Why can't the politicians admit that?

    Oh, that's right, they are responsible for the current crises. All of them, not one party or the other, all of them for the past 20 years.

    July 17, 2011 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  20. Unknownfrito

    Does the GOP realize that Balance Budget Amendment would require them to raise taxes to go to war? Funny that this is coming from Senator Lindsey Graham when he voted for the Bush tax cuts and then also voted for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars? Besides, a Cut, Cap and Balance amendment if ever passed wouldn't join the constitution for years. Senator Graham should focus on getting something done rather than an amendment that has little chance of passing in time to save our debt ceiling crisis.

    July 17, 2011 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  21. Sgt Schultz

    Convenient timing yes... Only AFTER the Republican Robber Barons got their constituents Corporate Welfare and gave away our tax $ like monopoly cash – doubled the Defense Budget, started a war to make CEO Dick Cheney a nice profit before he got his severance package, create redundant federal agencies that we did not need, and hook-up the rich & well connected with tax cuts that they didn't need and didn't ask for.

    July 17, 2011 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  22. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    yeah anything to keep the GOP from focusing on the jobs they promised back in 2010

    July 17, 2011 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  23. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    This little cupcake of a man is just a water boy for the Koch Bros.

    July 17, 2011 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  24. Frank in Valparaiso Indiana

    Once again the GOP is putting out buzz words for its base. The raising of the debt ceiling is the paying of debts we already obligated, that's 2 wars under the table and off the books, the Medicare Part D where the administration (Bush) lied to Congress about its cost, the Bush tax cuts (and the long term problems with the Reagan tax cuts). The GOP is full of idiots who don't know economics and don't know how to govern.

    July 17, 2011 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  25. John

    All of what He say Is what the TEA PARTY want the Republican to do. How can the American people can believe that the Republican can do anything . When you have half of them Is Doing what the TEA PARTY want ,and the Other half of the Republican are signing Pledge. Don't any of you American People Just want the Republican to do there JOBS. Like when they took Office and Swear to a OATH OF OFFICE and they did Swearing the OATH ON A BIBLE. And In doing so and In doing want the Tea Party and taking and signing Pledge they are no longer doing what they Swear to on a OATH and on a BIBLE. They seam to not believe In why took office for or anything about the OATH they took any more. They all the Republican seam to care about Is what Group of People they want to go with. they rather do this Instead Of doing what Is best for America Or the American People. the trouble with America right now Is the Republican and the Tea Party are killing America, and we has American People have got to put a stop to this In 2012.

    July 17, 2011 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
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