(CNN) – Sen. Lindsey Graham on Sunday made a fervent plea for Congress to reach a deal that would avoid the onset of automatic, widespread cuts - also known as sequestration - set to take place at the end of the year, which critics say would especially threaten the military.
"We do dumb things in Congress. This sequestration idea is the dumbest thing," he said on CNN's "State of the Union."
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The cuts, which would total $1.2 trillion, came about after a congressional "super committee" last year failed to reach a deficit reduction deal and instead assigned the cuts to take place if Congress did not find a new plan by the end of 2012.
At issue is the best way to reduce the deficit: Republicans call for spending cuts and amending the tax code (though without raising taxes), while Democrats advocate a plan that would bring in more revenue to close the cap through a tax hike on the very wealthy.
Graham on Sunday said he embraces the Simpson-Bowles plan, which would reduce the debt by $4 trillion in the next decade by cutting defense and discretionary spending, curbing federal entitlement costs and reforming the tax code by cutting certain loopholes and deductions.
It failed to pass with enough votes in the presidential debt commission in 2010, but Republicans to this day still link back to the proposal's key points.
"The construct of sequestration is if politicians failed to do their job in the super committee, the penalty was to destroy the military. We got this wrong. We should fire the politicians, keep the soldiers," Graham told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.
The South Carolina senator warned that time was running out and urged President Barack Obama and the White House to reach a compromise with congressional Republicans.
However, Obama put the blame on Congress during a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars last month, saying lawmakers on Capitol Hill were "playing politics with the military."
"There's no reason that should happen, because people in Congress ought to be able to come together and agree on a plan, a balanced approach that reduces the deficit and keeps our military strong," the president said.
And on the same program Sunday, Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs reiterated Democratic calls to raise taxes on the wealthy in order to help make a dent in the deficit.
"Let's preserve the size of the Navy and the Air Force by not giving tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires," he said on "State of the Union."
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