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. Mike

    I am so sick of that talking point. The United States is not Greece. The United States is no where near the situation Greece is in. The United States will never be Greece. As long as we're the most powerful economy in the world (we still are), with the greatest buying power (we still have it), we won't ever, EVER, be in the situation Greece is in.

    Stop with the talk of economic armageddon. The GOP keeps holding firm saying it's a "spending" problem. It's not. There is waste, unneeded programs and non-sustainable models for entitlements. Cut the waste and largesse and reform entitlements. Our revenues are too low to properly service a modern, 21st century nation of 300+ million and growing. Raise taxes. Enough is enough, get a deal done.

    December 30, 2012 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  2. mark/texas

    To you small minded people who view president obama as the villian here...why dont you just pack your bags and take your cotton candy rears out of this great country. maybe then well be able to elect people like president obama that have leadership skills that they have pledged to the american people they have sworn to serve. its whiners like you that dont vote, dont pay any attention to whats going on, and can only cry about what you stupidly choose to point your fingers at. do you people have jobs and/or families to support? try doing that and getting informed so you can make intelligent conversations and observations or do you clowns have applications in with faux news and crazies n nosys? get a freaking life under a rock that you sneak out from under!

    December 30, 2012 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  3. Old Guy

    The republicans are the ones whom created this mess. They cut taxes without offsetting cuts in spending. They increased spending, doubling the defense budget. They started to unfunded wars. They refused to do regulations and oversight that lead to our great recession. They created an unfunded medicare drug program making it illegal to negotiate lower drug prices. They chose to fight the democrats and the Obama on everything, making the last two years the most unproductive period in Washington. They blocked every initiative from the democrats in the Senate and refuse to let democrats offer amendments to any bills in the House. They talk about the constitution and spit on it whenever it does support their desires. They talk about freedom of speech and attack any fellow republican whom chooses to think differently. They threaten party members whom do not adhere to their purist views. They lie to the public on just about everything. They put their oath to Norquist ahead of the oath of office. Party before country. They preach hate and division and try to control the elections thru gerrymandering and hinder the right to vote to those whom have different views. They refuse to share power in government and compromise with those with different views. Finally when things go wrong, It is the fault of everyone else. They refuse to lead govern and prefer to destroy government to increase the profits of Corporate America.

    December 30, 2012 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  4. Dnick47

    It just dawned on me today... if the government stops writing check on tomorrow, Dec. 31, 2012 Conress won't get paid either! No wonder they are hurrying up and doing what they should have done months ago... I'll bet that some of the turkeys live hand-to-mouth even at their grossly overpaid rates because they live such lavish life styles and the expense of the American people.

    December 30, 2012 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  5. D.B.

    Lindsey Graham"s ideas are frightening for a democratic society.

    December 30, 2012 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  6. Gordon Jones

    Hang in there Mr. President. Boehner and crew are still playing checkers, have run out of moves. Your long term chess game is proving superior to their short sited ideology.

    December 30, 2012 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  7. jes

    A few things to mention. The US is broke (87 TRILLION in unfunded liabilities and paying 359 billion a year in interest in our current debt) and financial reform is required immediately. Every day we delay the tougher it will be. The first to be hurt will be those who truly need and rely on our social safety net. The fact that the BO only wants to raise taxes without any real consideration of that tells me that he would rather worry about sustaining to status quo versus preserving these programs and a strong US for future generations. To the person who mentioned the 2nd amendment and thinking that any laws will make people actually safer, please wake up. In the US 58% of murders are from guns. If guns were really the problem then that percent would be closer to 90%. The issue is individuals without a moral compass. Just like terrorists who are determined to kill where there is a will there is a way and to be truly safe and have the best chance to minimize / limit damage is to take them out first. Sticking our heads in the sand on both of these issues will not prevent a real fiscal meltdown or keep anyone safe. PLEASE WAKE UP AMERICA BEFORE IT IS TO LATE.

    December 30, 2012 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  8. Allaisa

    Time the GOP started drinking coffee and threw the TEA into Boston harbor again!

    December 31, 2012 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  9. Inglourious

    The Republicans who say we are going to become Greece would much rather see us become Somalia: no Federal gov't and no gun control laws. Of course that's a ridiculous statement; so is the idea that are on our way to becoming Greece.

    December 31, 2012 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  10. texasgreenacres

    the only people that get any social security are the ones that live long enough to collect. And the ones that become disabled. the majority of people never live long enough to draw social security and the ones that does lives longer than expected. .I'm very fortunate I'm 70 and still going strong.If my health holds up I might make it another 30 years?

    December 31, 2012 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  11. arosel

    Message to Lindsey Graham: Bill Clinton was the best President besides Obama.. both Bush's stunk.

    Also, why is your first name a girl name?

    December 31, 2012 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  12. seacutter

    The President got done, if all of this cliff nonense becomes a bump in the parking lot, what he could get done and not much more. What the rest of the world thinks of our quirky political system which has decayed from those checks and balances into an inert system of dysfuncion where only the well connected or the rich or both can initiate and see any meaningful legislation get passed through both houses of Congress. We won't become Greece because, well, Greece was allowed to live in a fantasy world by the bean counters in Brussels and European political leaders who must have thought that if the Central Bank accepts anymore phony Greek budgets wihin the EURO Zone then someday everything
    will work out. No, we won't become Greece but we might become South Carolina or Mississippi.

    December 31, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  13. Futureman1

    Look at the accompanying picture of Lindsey Graham to this article.....he looks like an evil little twerp doesn't he? It's pathetic that our country is repped by these inside players...

    December 31, 2012 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  14. Lizard Lance

    The Republicans of today are nothing like the Reagan Republicans. Today's Republicans are immature whiny brats who are more interested in serving their masters (donors and Grover Norquist) than serving America. For the life of me I can't figure out how anyone who believes in the goodness of America can support these idiots!

    December 31, 2012 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  15. Rogeu351

    With the GOP doing nothing to help anyone but the rich what do they expect. Does the GOP honestly expect the people to stand behind them and back cutting programs people have paid into their whole lives while the rich pay nothing ? Of course Obama is going to win. The GOP is so far down the rabbit hole they can not see how crazy they sound. Not just with the cliff but also with siding with the NRA. What are they thinking ? I will tell you what they are thinking. Dam the whole country as long as THEY get there way and WIN. Regardless if no one else wins the GOP wins. Regardless of what happens the House and Senate will still go home with their pay and benefits, so who cares about the rest of us ? FINE these people large amounts of money, cut there benefits and pay until they do the job and fix the situation.

    December 31, 2012 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  16. IamproudofPresidentObama

    No, I win since I am a middle tax person who does not want to pay higher taxes.

    December 31, 2012 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  17. Rogeu351

    FINE the house and the senate large amounts of money, cut their pay and benefits until they come together and do the job they where elected to do. If the money is coming out their pockets in fines you know they are going to get something done. Make it harder for them to walk away with full benefits and monthly pay if they are not doing their jobs. It is what the rest of us have to deal with why shouldn't they ? Every week we go past the cliff each member of the house and senate should be fined 100K after a month it goes up another 50K and so on. Life long benefits decrease 20% each month they stay deadlocked. I guarantee this will get their attention.

    December 31, 2012 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  18. Di

    Guess none of them wii have time to read this Bill.

    December 31, 2012 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  19. Good Karma

    Graham is the small minded and irresponsible. Just a few days ago he threatened that there will be war and if he does not get his (GOP) way on fiscal cliff. That is the smallest mindedness there is. He is getting paid by the taxpayers but he is holding the country's future hostage for scoring political gains. He is irresponsible, because Graham, Bush, Cheney took the country to these huge deficit path. President Clinton had worked hard and paid a huge political price to erase the deficit. These GOP jokers turned that surplus in deficits within 2 years by giving huge tax cuts to rich people like me. It was completely unnecessary. It is time for irresponsible politicians like him to go. He is not serving this country. He is simply serving a GOP political agenda which is completely counter to the interest of this country. Hope we Americans wake up to their idiotic agenda.

    December 31, 2012 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  20. Barbara Keiser

    As a tax payer we pay the salaries of the house, congress, etc. I think we should start deducting thousands if dollars from these elected officials for every hour they play political games and do not do their work. The Farm bill come on has not been passed in a whole year. Now the financial outcome of the American people and the USA is hanging with elected officials who are NOT doing their jobs. Make it hurt in their pockets again we the American people pay them all

    December 31, 2012 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  21. Shardik

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

    Sour grapes?

    December 31, 2012 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  22. thisiswhynodbodywins

    After reading a few pages of comments, I have to say something. The people are why we don't ever get anything done. Everyone leaving a comment basically thinks they know everything and their candidate is a blessing from whatever deity they believe or don't believe in (people who don't have a deity association bash those who do because they once again think they're right, and the converse happens too) Personally, i think the way we as a country align ourselves "on the left" or "on the right" is atrocious. How many people have you voted for based on party and have no idea what they stood for? I've done it too. However, I always voted alternating parties (down the middle if you will) in hopes that something like this cliff would happen and they would be forced to work together. The politicians are so set in their ways nothing ever gets done. Why? Because they don't want to lose voters. And the voters stick to them based on a party name. I believe this is why our founding fathers were against the party system. I mean, I'm probably wrong too, but thats just my two cents. Probably a bit rambling and incoherent as well, but it's late and I was doing some work so I wouldn't have to tomorrow.

    December 31, 2012 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  23. Travis Fields

    Lindsay Graham is actually one of the most fair-minded Senators out there. He's not a Libertarian or a Tea Party far-right type. There are Legislators out there who are hyper-partisan party hacks who hate to work with the other party, but he's not one of them. When he talks like this it makes me wonder. Oh, and Rice couldn't win the nomination for State becasuse no one who gives two completely different accounts for what happened in Benghazi on the SAME DAY can be seen as credible. Maybe she got bad information, but tough luck. As per the assault weapon I agree they need to be banned at least for civilians, but he is an Air Force vet so he has more of a right to own one than most.

    December 31, 2012 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  24. ToughLove

    People who bring up the electoral college number has some kind of overwhelming victory are just blinded by their dedication to the Democratic party or liberal agenda. The truth is the President ONLY got 51% of the vote. If he, or any of you, think this is some kind of a blank check, you're kidding yourselves. Sadly, these kinds of decisions will continue to inflict damage on our economy and culture. People are hurting more today than they were four years ago...regardless of the shell game people play with numbers and terms.

    December 31, 2012 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  25. Jay jay

    All the prez has to offer is to tax the wealthy. Thats it. That will save approximately seven days of spending In a years time. Woo hoo! This prez is not serious and never will be. What a joke. 20 trillion dollar debt here we come thanks to ignorant people who voted for the commy

    December 31, 2012 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
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