Graham on fiscal cliff: Obama wins 'hollow' political victory
December 30th, 2012
12:38 PM ET
5 years 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. ES

    If the US is becoming Greece, Senator Graham has more to do with it than President Obama. Senator Graham I believe voted for the Bush tax cuts, two unfunded wars, and the unfunded Medicare part D. So it would seem that the Senator is going back to the GOP playbook, blame the President for something he helped create. I am waiting for the GOP to propose how to pay for the above Bush era spending without punishing the middle-class, the elderly, disabled and the poor. Only when they do this will it be clear that they care about this country. And then and only then, we should consider making cuts that affect those groups. The GOP clearly like to buy things but done want to pay for them and just think they call themselves fiscal consevatives, WHAT A JOKE!!!!!

    December 30, 2012 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  2. Dave in Arizona

    She thinks Obama "won" and so runs to Fox News to whine about how his "victory" means nothing and he's a confusing and problematic politicians.

    Well, Lindsey Graham, thank you for showing that you clearly have a mentality that would prevent the very bipartisan solutions you condemn him for not employing. When the first thing you do is run crying to the nearest microphone, you've shown your own colors. And when you go running to Fox News you show that you only care about having your feelings validated by the Radical Right.

    December 30, 2012 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  3. opion8d

    It’s not surprising Senator Graham can’t “figure out” the president. That’s because he thinks the game is checkers when it’s actually chess. If you want to “figure out” this president then think four or five moves ahead. What’s next? I’m betting:

    1. The “deal” will fail and taxes on everyone will go up Jan 1.
    2. The president will ask the Senate to lower taxes on the middle class and renew unemployment payments – they will and the GOP will acquiesce
    3. The GOP will try to hold the White House hostage on the debt limit – they will lose
    4. Medicare and “Obamacare” will merge, inact aggressive cost management, and solve its long term budget problem.
    5. Social Security will see a long term age increase with means testing.

    December 30, 2012 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  4. ddblah

    Dear Graham:

    Are you sure you understand what you just said? Even your GOP house leader could not master the needed vote to pass his watered-down version, how can you expect a president from opposite party to get support from GOP?

    December 30, 2012 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  5. Marcia

    I only hope that the Republicans do not survive this fiasco. Their "Do-Nothing" Congress has been a disgrace to all hard working middle class Americans.

    December 30, 2012 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  6. keithet

    It's called bowing down to Grover. That's what Lindsay is doing. A real JERK.

    December 30, 2012 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  7. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    It would be nice if McConnell could get Boehner and the House to go along with any plan that the Senate does.

    December 30, 2012 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  8. jackherrys

    Lindsey Graham can't really believe that the USA will become Greece. He's active enough in the budget process to know that once the economy gets back on track the deficit will begin to shrink. But the gamesmanship of his party, especially if it continues through the next debt ceiling vote, may slow down recovery for a long time.

    December 30, 2012 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  9. Jaxn

    What a joke...everyone now a days wants something from the government for nothing. Our society is turning to government dependency and redistribution for all.

    December 30, 2012 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  10. dontbow

    Well that's all that counts for the dems isn't it. Being able to say we won and you lost. How pathetic and disgracefull to the American society to act like that. Nothing is worse for this country than their self-serving ideas.

    December 30, 2012 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  11. TSB8C

    A "hollow victory" is right. Keep in mind that no one, even Obama and his lies, is talking about cutting any spending at all – not one red cent. All this talk of "cuts" is really just a discussion about slowing the rate of spending growth. These "cuts" are really lower increases in spending over a ten year span. So when Obama says he has offered to cut spending $2 for every $1 in tax increases, he is really saying that he will increase the spending over a ten time by $2 less than it was otherwise budgeted to go up. But the new taxes are immediate in year one, and every year after that. So do the math...

    1. Charge another $1 in tax right now and each year after – that's $10 in new taxes.
    2. Spend $2 less over a ten year span – that's $2 less spending.
    3. $10 in new taxes minus $2 in lower spending is still $8 in new taxes.

    This is all a farce to distract from the fact that Obama has increased the deficit and the debt more than all presidents before him combined and that he failed to follow even one recommendation from his own debt commission and that he extended the current tax cuts (not once but twice) and that he agreed to the planned "across the board" spending cuts to get the last debt ceiling increase. Obama may have one this hollow victory, but he must now take full responsibility for the outcome rather than keep blaming others as he has done for over 5 years now (4 years as prez and a year compaigning before that when he was a Senator).

    December 30, 2012 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  12. on StreetWise

    Bush handed over a 13/Trillion deficit to President Obama, and then he maned up to shoulder his responsibility of the rest 3/Trillion of unfunded two wars of Dubya's he had off the ($16 Trillion total deficit) books. Now the GOP wants to shove that responsibility too onto the "Cliff Deal" to the Dems, after they lost the 2012 election... that's laughing, really laughing. Look out Teabillys, 2014 is approaching fast!

    December 30, 2012 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  13. El Flaco

    st Americans have not taken economics nor ever read a book on it. Most Americans have been educated in economics by Conservative speakers who have been repeating the same shallow economic platitudes since 1952. There are about a dozen of them. Here are the first three:

    1. "The freer a market is, the more prosperous it must be. This is an economic law." This is a little bit true but it conceals more than it reveals. The question is "More prosperous for whom?" In the wild decades of 1900-1929, the free market produced a lot of wealth, but almost all of it went to the very few very wealthy. The rich lived very well back then, but in a separate world of luxury, servants, and travel. Most Americans lived very poorly. Most Americans were treated very badly by their employers: 10-12 hour days, 60-70 hour weeks, no benefits, no retirement, no savings, no health care, child labor, and women were paid even less than the men.

    2. "The market regulates itself, therefore no government oversight is necessary. When consumers are displeased with a company, they purchase elsewhere. Thus, corporations compete to please and satisfy customers." That little half-truth does not consider what might happen when global corporations conspire to limit supply (like oil). It doesn't consider that demand can be created or changed. That is, we can be taught to want something we never wanted before or shouldn't want: cigarettes, the three-quarter pound beltbuster burger, another Conservative president, or an expensive pain medication that doesn't work as well as aspirin.

    3. "Competition is the thing. Competition is what makes everyone strive for new heights of consumer product goodness." Back when Adam Smith wrote about competition, there were only two ways to compete: increase the quality or lower the price. Take cell phones as an example. All cell phone companies sell the same gadgets; different colors and different names but they're just phones. The global corporations that sell phones to us don't compete in quality – they're all the same. They don't compete in price, the prices are the same. They compete in marketing. That is, they create ideas in the consumer's mind that have nothing to do with cell phones. One cell phone company is the cool blonde dude. The other cell phone companies are dark haired and fat. Who wants to be dark haired and fat? Not the customers of that phone company (I forget, it's one of the big ones).

    Conservative economics is to economics as George Bush is to Harry Truman.

    December 30, 2012 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  14. NY Repub

    Social Security is not part of the Deficit. It is a Social Secuity Insurance that people/companies pay into and receive benefits if you reach retirement. The only effect that Social Security has on the deficit is the money congress has borrowed and owe into the program. It may have to be adjusted down the road but is solvent for the next 30 years. It is not possible to predict what will happen after 10 year let alone 30 years.

    December 30, 2012 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  15. Rj

    The GOP need to be rejuvenated and enter the 21st Century and leave behind their sour grapes exhibited by this tea party edition of the Republican party. So It irks them that President Obama won his second term convincingly...but now its time to put aside their self centeredness and respect the will of the people.

    December 30, 2012 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  16. Lee

    Sour grapes coming from Graham. Republicans are the ones who are being small-minded. Notice he said it on Fox, safe territory for him.

    December 30, 2012 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  17. c s

    If the Republicans really want to reduce the deficit, they should follow the advice of Republican Ron Paul and bring our troops home. The US spends on defense as much as the next 14 largest spenders do. The US economy is certainly smaller than these 14 countries yet somehow the US cannot cut defense spending. The US currently has over 700 foreign military bases in over 100 countries. Close them all and bring our troops home. Let Asia and Europe defend the Persian gulf since they get almost all of the oil from the Middle East and the US gets very little. No more American blood for Middle East oil.

    December 30, 2012 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  18. penguin

    The "cliff" is a legislated slate of tax increases and spending cuts. The Congress is fighting over a yet undecided other slate of tax increases and spending cuts the effect of which is totally unknown. If an alternative is agreed upon before the new year, there will be no time left to determine its affect on the economy. Personally I like the tax increases and cuts mandated by the so-called "cliff" as it is the only scheme that may reduce our debt. If I had my way, unearned income would be taxed progressively. And if you look at who gains the most from unearned income you will see it is the top 2%. Why should one pay less tax on unearned income than on earned income?

    December 30, 2012 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  19. hope-less

    Glad the president gets a victory when over 300 million Americans suffer. It is time for everyone – dems & gop to stop the game playing and get a deal done... It really is embarrassing. Bottomline, we got in this problem because people and companies live beyond their means and took to many risks. Everyone except our government has figured this out... Live within your means!

    December 30, 2012 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  20. Name. Jean Gonzalez

    I would like to know how going over the cliff is going to affect every elected official, right on down to Obama. You all are so worried about your taxes. None if you are concerned how its going to affect the people that voted for everyone deciding our future. Only thing y'all can agree on is pay raises fir yourself.

    December 30, 2012 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  21. Dr. Fricke

    It seemed so simple – raise taxes and cut spending – not just cut increases in spending – but cut spending. I really loved President Obama's plan of cut $3 in real spending for every $1 of tax increase. But now – it seems President says, "Give me the tax cuts first, then we can talk." That is illogical. So sad.

    December 30, 2012 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  22. Chipster

    What Graham and Republicans mean when they say "entitlement reform" is actually "dismantle Social Security and Medicare." Seniors on Social Security and Medicare have paid into those programs for decades so, YES, they are ENTITLED! And they have had little or no increase over the past 8 years! Those programs are solvent until 2024 and those programs are NOT the cause of the deficit. Sen. Graham, the DOD wants to cut defense spending because the department is spending so much money on aircraft, ships, and weapons that they do not need. They are paying for them because you and other members of the House and Senate vote to protect those jobs in your districts! The DOD needs new technology and smart weapons. You know this so stop being dishonest with the American public about where the money is being wasted! Entitlement programs are not welfare. They are not the problem. YOU ARE!

    December 30, 2012 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  23. Deez

    "Lindsey Graham is a horrible human being." Actual Lindsey Graham quote.

    December 30, 2012 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  24. margie

    USA greece because greece cant print "cash"

    December 30, 2012 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  25. Remove Boehner Before America Falls Off Cliff

    Obama is for the middle class. Boehner is for himself and his rich lobbyists. Favor the majority and bend towards the middle class, Mr. Speaker or be removed by your own sensible Republican constituents. You are to cute anyway. You ate just a power freak and a wanna-be president. LOL

    December 30, 2012 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
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