Graham on fiscal cliff: Obama wins 'hollow' political victory
December 30th, 2012
12:38 PM ET
1 year ago

Graham on fiscal cliff: Obama wins 'hollow' political victory

Washington (CNN) – Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on Sunday credited President Barack Obama with winning the "fiscal cliff" battle, but argued the final deal will likely do little to help the nation's deficit problem.

"The president will get a political victory, a trophy for the president politically, but it will not change our debt situation or reduce our deficit in any meaningful way," Graham told CNN. "It will be a political victory that is hollow in nature when it comes to preventing our country from becoming Greece."

The senator further criticized the president, blasting him for failing to take action "in a bipartisan manner" or "embrace big ideas like entitlement reform."

"He is really, quite frankly, small-minded in consequential times. I find him to be a hard guy to know and understand," he said.

His comments came after Graham declared on Fox News that the president has "won" the fiscal cliff negotiations, even though a final deal has yet to be announced.

"Hats off to the president - he won," Graham said.

"He stood his ground," the senator also said. "He's going to get tax rate increases, maybe not (for people making) $250,000, but on upper-income Americans."

With less than two days before the January 1 deadline to prevent major tax hikes and automatic spending cuts from taking effect, Senate leaders and senior staff are hunkering down on Capitol Hill to come up with a deficit-reduction plan that can pass both chambers.

Graham said if Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell can get a majority of Republicans to sign on to the final deal in the Democratic-controlled Senate, then the bill has a strong chance in the House.

"I think you will get a majority of Republicans and a majority of Democrats in the House, if you can get 60% of the Republicans in the Senate," he said on Fox.

At issue is disagreement over extending the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Obama and Democrats say the tax cuts should expire on households making more than $250,000, while Republicans maintain the tax breaks should be continued for all Americans.

The Senate convenes at 1 p.m. ET Sunday, and the House could hold votes as early as 6:30 p.m. ET

Graham said he's in favor of getting a deal passed, though he may be holding his nose if that deal includes any sort of tax increases.

"I want to vote for it, even though I won't like it, because the country has got a lot at stake here," he said.


Filed under: Fiscal Cliff • Lindsey Graham • President Obama
soundoff (435 Responses)
  1. Jules

    Sen. Graham should realize that the victory of wealthier Americans paying more in taxes is not just the President's victory but a victory for the American people. Significantly more people than voted for President Obama believe the wealthier should pay more and the president won with 52% of the vote. Also the president won reelection in the most difficult of economic climates since FDR – obviously the American people trust the president's way forward on the economy more than the GOP. There is nothing hollow about that victory – the GOP chooses to make it hollow because they refuse to accept anything less than what they want. They lost the presidency, they lost seats in the house and the senate – get a clue guys.

    December 30, 2012 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  2. maggie

    "The senator further criticized the president, blasting him for failing to take action "in a bipartisan manner" or "embrace big ideas like entitlement reform."

    Sorry, Graham, this one is on you, all of you. You've failed to pass a thing beyond renaming buildings in the past two years because of your obstructionist views. Each of you vowed on Day 1 four years ago to stop this president from any success and now you are complaining? Gee, whiz. The beauty of it Graham is that the American people have woken up and in case you weren't around on November 6, in case you haven't seen recent polls, we get it now.

    December 30, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  3. Candice Taylor

    I believe a deal was offered before the election that was rejected by the GOP which would have given them much of the cuts they were looking for and no tax increases just closing loopholes. But it was not acceptable because it might have helped The President in the election. So this is a failure on the GOPs side. Their the ones that played their cards and lost. So suck it up. You made your bed now lie in in!

    December 30, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  4. Mark Hollingsworth

    Sen. Lindsey Graham's comments are exactly what is wrong with Washington. No one is stepping up and running this country. Graham is more worried about a political victory then getting this Country back on track. Congress and the White House wants the other to step up and lead. The Administration has their job to do, led by the President and the Senate has its leader and the House has its leader. They need to get off their BUTTS, quite feeling sorry for themselves and start doing what this country elected them for "Start running this Country and do what's best for it!"

    December 30, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  5. rs

    Mr. Obama cannot fix this nation's economic ills singlehandedly. Mr. Graham knows this, but rather than admit his party would rather die than work with the President of the United States, he and the rats of his party would rather play cute word and "bait and switch" games. No, the Republicans will do nothing for this nation as long as they are in the clutches of lobbyists like Grover Norquist- whose pledge they honor more highly than the one they swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States, or the citizens of America.

    December 30, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  6. Name lynn

    obama gave the republicans an boehner a chance to help with the fiscal cliff people fighting an pointing fingers at each other now let all the peoples say amen include obama an get this over with an let obama make a live speech to the world

    December 30, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  7. mike edelman

    both sides have been disingenuous..republicans have to realize that revenues must be increased its not just a spending
    problem because medicare and social security are in trouble and the vast majority of the nation does not want
    these essential programs cut and democrats have to understand that there is a way to preserve both ss and medicare
    for the great majority while modifying the benefits for those who really do not need it...just as republicans have indicated
    a willingess to let taxes on some go up...and we don't know whethe that threshold is 250 400 or more democrats
    cannot clling to the idea that a millionaire who receives interest and dividends in the same range shoud not be entitled
    to 100% of medicare and social security and all of these modifications including raising the age of eligibility can be
    phased in slowly over the next 20 years without really causing a lot of pain to current beneficiaries nor those close
    to retirement..so both parties ought to talk meaningful deficit reduction that we can all live with

    December 30, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  8. batjones

    Would somebody please remind Senator Graham that he is a legislator. The only reason the President is involved in the fiscal cliff matter is because the legislators in Congress, meaning Senator Graham, could not figure out a plan on their own. The senior senator from South Carolina should spend more time writing legislation, which is his job, instead of worrying about whether the President wins or loses. Incidentally, if the President wins then the United States wins. Senator Graham needs to figure out whether he is on the side of the United States or something else.

    December 30, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  9. keeth

    Graham is worried about political victories?!? That shows his priorities! "Party before Country" is the GOP moto.

    December 30, 2012 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  10. Gurgyl

    Obama is the president of USA–let me remind this guy. Pathetic GOP idiots.

    December 30, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  11. zizewitz

    how it is possible that there is no comment after 2 hours of sucha groundbraking news,meaning the thE GOP has substantially yielded to the President and so avoided jumping over the Fiscal Clif ?????????????????????

    December 30, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  12. WhereIsPalin

    This guy has no clue how to pull the country together.

    December 30, 2012 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  13. CaliforniaAC

    The blame game continues as our nation comes to the edge of another recession. We all forget what got us to this point: Wars not paid for, tax rates that favor the wealthy, taking care of the less fortunate Americans in our country, providing a safety net to the unemployed, providing assistance to Sandy victims. Add whatever you want to the list and then place the WORTHY ACTIONS on the CHRISTIAN side and the UNWORTHY ACTIONS on the NON-CHRISTIAN side and the side with the higher list determines what our country stands for. The truth does not lie.

    December 30, 2012 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  14. concerned citizen

    Lindsey Graham knows that if he doesn't vote for a tax raise on his republican friends and contributors to his campaign he and many many of the republican seats will be lost come the next election.

    December 30, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  15. This One

    No, senator, the PEOPLE won.

    December 30, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  16. txtruth

    The truth of the matter is that if this deal would've gotten done six months or year ago, Republicans and Democrats could have been focused on meaningful reductions in spending. Because of the "no compromise" position taken by the Republicans on the tax increases, no compromise could be reached on a bigger deal.

    Aside from the hypocrisy of those screaming so loud about the deficit being the persons inherited a surplus in 2000, everything must be on the table. At the top the list needs to be practical cost-cutting such as allowing Medicare to negotiate drug costs. ( Republicans oppose this and it costs taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year needlessly). additionally, our defense spending is so out of control and so full of waste fraud and abuse that the refusal to address it has been a disaster. No-bid contracts, pork belly spending, and is led to our inability to control our own pursestrings – simply because this is a sacred cow.

    Finally, the refusal of Democrats and Republicans to address the real problem in America – the cost of healthcare. Republicans want to reduce the cost of the federal government – which simply shifts the burden to American families. Democrats wish to continue the safety net but refused to take on the political burden of addressing the real problem spiraling out of control costs. Americans may not want to hear it – but the truth is our healthcare costs way more than it should.

    December 30, 2012 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  17. jpmichigan

    Obamas first 4 years was an " HOLLOW" victory and as he promised he got re-elected to continue on the same path. Spending will increase, deficit will increase , size of government will increase, taxes will increase, but after all is said what our grandchildren and great grand children will have to pay back will also increase. So Mr. President what have you really accomplished? A Country of citizens that want anything and every thing without working for it!

    December 30, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  18. Martha in CF

    What did Graham say? That the President won. Is he the only redumblican that gets it? I find little hope in DC...said for we Americans. They have just failed us so many times.....

    December 30, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  19. bob from SC

    When will THEY (meaning all the Senators and Representatives from BOTH parties) learn that NEITHER has the solution to the current financial problems plaguing us. It will take implementing elements of BOTH to truly address the problem....changes to entitlement programs phased in over 20 yrs, cuts in defense spending, raising taxes, and a host of other items.This HOGWASH that both sides are going through where they blame the other should result in an automatic expulsion of the individuals from ANY form of government service for life, if not actual jail time. I believe it is safe to say that the harm they are perpetrating is far more than any bank robber, thief, or similar law breaker.

    December 30, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  20. First Commentor

    Why does the percentage of republicans in the senate that will vote for the bill have anything to do with whether it will pass in the house? Is it peer pressure?

    December 30, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  21. Logic N LA

    Maybe Senator Graham and his colleagues should have considered that when not budging on any issue. Money will pay down the debt- not long term cuts. Cuts will keep the debt from getting larger but only revenue will actually reduce it. Most economists agree that spending by the government to stimulate growth is our solution for higher revenue...Republicans seem to think the bills will magically go away in time.

    December 30, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  22. bptsj

    This is hard to say... I have always disliked Lindsey Graham and I am a Obama supporter but what he said in this interview is true. The problem Obama has is he doesn't know how to 'schmooze' which all great Presidents have been able to do to get what they want. He is still a better bet than Romney was though.

    December 30, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  23. Randy, San Francisco

    Sen Graham sounds like a whiner and sore loser, too many in the GOP/Tea Party.

    December 30, 2012 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  24. Splippy

    "...hey talk about this Great Recession if it fell out of the sky, like, oh my goodness, where did it come from? It came from this man voting to put two wars in a credit card, to at the same time put a prescription drug benefit on the credit card, a trillion- dollar tax cut for a — very wealthy. I was there. I voted against him. I said, no, we can't afford that. And now all of a sudden these guys are so seized with a concern about the debt that they created." -Joe Biden

    December 30, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  25. Bob

    Any politician who compares the fiscal problems of the USA to Greece has no comprehension of economics or is simply trying to score political points. The only similarity is that both countries have had difficulty in collecting tax revenue – Greece due to widespread corruption and the USA due to very concentrated corruption that has led to the lowering of tax rates to such a level that country is no longer functional.

    December 30, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
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