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. Jason

    If they decide to increase the tax on business owners and the wealthy, its really a tax increase on the lower and middle class because those businesses just pass those increases on to those who buy their products. If makes everyone feel better to pass more tax increases on the wealthy then knock yourself out . . . just realize in the end that you are really just taxing yourself. LOL!

    December 31, 2012 02:07 am at 2:07 am |
  2. Keyser Soze

    For Christ sake, Graham, the US economy has about as much in common with Greece as you and the rest of the right wing entertainment complex have with reality. If President Obama does indeed win this grudge match, then WE, the American People win.

    December 31, 2012 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
  3. Franky

    Any person , including a politician that compares the US , or incites that the US is becoming like Greece can not be taken seriously. There are so many things wrong with this comment from an economic and practicality stand point it's ridiculous. Only neophyte at economics would ever make such a claim, you've never, heard one economist make such an argument because it's silly.

    The US is nothing like Greece and is in know way shape or form becoming like Greece. Unless, the US shrinks it's economic in take from $16 trillion annually, to $2 trillion, and nearly all of it's debt becomes owned by foreignors (unlike it is now where it's essentially owned by moms and pops, and US institutions), stops being the currency of choice for global commodities trading, loses it's place as the worlds biggest economy and most valuable bond, and becomes a tourist based economy ... it will stay nothing like Greece.

    December 31, 2012 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  4. Laurie in Spokane

    I don't know who's "won" but it sure isn't the American public. Both parties have shown that their interests have nothing to do with the general populace, only their partie's ideological agenda, and in the case of the GOP, protecting big business// big money.

    It's kind of like cutting off your nose to spite your face. I just hope that republicans, in general, can be voted out of office in two, four, and six years. They truly have shown their true colors this time around.

    December 31, 2012 02:30 am at 2:30 am |
  5. Thomas

    Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina only needs to thank himself and GW Bush. For putting two wars on the American Excess charge card .

    December 31, 2012 02:33 am at 2:33 am |
  6. Jack

    We are not Greece.

    December 31, 2012 02:37 am at 2:37 am |
  7. Bmuseed

    You people remember this guy... Lindsey Graham ..ask how much he helped spend on the impeachment of Clinton. In case you forgot...he was one of the Republican prosecutors.. I'll help you–Starr commenced his investigation of Whitewater and related matters in August 1994. Since then, he has spent $39.2 million probing Whitewater and President Clinton's affair with Lewinsky. Before Starr's appointment, a special counsel appointed by Attorney General Janet Reno had spent $6 million on a probe of Whitewater... the Republicans besides being hypocrits, He also was party to helping us put two wars, part D Medicare and the Bush tax cuts on our backs.. Tax cuts during a selfish and unAmerican... yet somebody votes for these haters...

    December 31, 2012 02:39 am at 2:39 am |
  8. Watt Tyler

    The real loser(s) here is the people, blinded by a false right/left paradigm and led into a belief that either side somehow is different and cares. A deal is made but how long does the glue stick? For six months, maybe a year and then what? What happens when the dollar is dead? While we all thought about sgraffwriter's supposed "sensible gun laws" and couldn't stuff enough Newtown grief down our throats, China quit using the dollar and America slept through this news. There is no two party system. It is just a show. One party, two selling points. I would rather have real Socialism and Facism balancing our opposite ends then this bankster snake-oil we have now. Ever notice that we have elections and the political tennis ball bounces back and forth yet our monetary policy and foreign policy remain the same. The only difference with W and Obama is that we could plainly see how dumb W was but Mr O has better PR and we may never know. They both take their orders from the same old bosses of the Money Trust but the medicine tastes alittle better when fed from Mr O's spoon. This is what dumbed down USA really cares about. The voting public let themselves be talked into refinancing after the last 4 years of recession and just wait for the dollar to do the swan dive. Since America has proven to be a nation of morons (that probably don't deserve the vote), I plan to make myself a new hobby of driving around laughing at middle America mediocrity when they and their kids are starving because they believed the two party lie.

    December 31, 2012 03:05 am at 3:05 am |
  9. steve

    It's so hard to remain civil in the face of such blind behavior I'm amazed at the restraint shown by most of us. I would really like to bang the heads of the Grover Norquists off the wall!

    December 31, 2012 03:13 am at 3:13 am |
  10. Marry

    The Greece situation is the result of decades with bad governing, bad (no existing) government structure, and spreading the idea among most Greek, specially the rich getting richer in this scheme, that one does not need to pay taxes to have a functioning country. Corruption from the top to the bottom to get any services and/or keeping this going is/was running ramped as a result. Without the decade long support from the EU Greece would have been insolvent a long time ago.

    Why, this is the US Republican/Tea Party Program implemented decades ago! "Starve the Beast!" Well go Republican when you like that outcome! Except there will be no one to come to the rescue of the US!

    December 31, 2012 03:16 am at 3:16 am |
  11. steve

    Lindsey, go home. Take your pals with you.

    December 31, 2012 03:16 am at 3:16 am |
  12. Edward Canavan

    If the fiscal cliff were not such a potential disaster this would be hilarious. In the 2011 debt ceiling debate there was a negotiated deficit reduction plan that was much more in line with the T-Publican plan today than anything the democrats will agree to but the T-Publicans kicked the can down the road to after the election absolutely convinced they would be in the drivers seat. If you think the democrats starting position for negotiations should start at the levels you rejected in 2011 I would like to know what is really in that T-Cup.

    December 31, 2012 03:18 am at 3:18 am |
  13. Jason

    Crazy talk from this guy. If you would have won, you could have your way. It's majority rule, you lost. Go back and for once put your country first.

    December 31, 2012 03:19 am at 3:19 am |
  14. black_ram_lager

    This is not about "winning" or "losing". It's about passing a bill that the overwhelming majority of Americans want. The senator is a symbol of why the GOP can't get the job done – they equate their important tasks in Congress with "winning" or "losing" at politics.

    President Obama has shown leadership, representing the will of the people, and unyielding to corruption. Those GOP'ers who signed an independent pledge to a private lobbying group should all be fired for conflict of interest – putting their friends before their constituents and the American public.

    I'm tired of the GOP twisting the facts and fearmongering. Those "entitlements" are not gifts. I paid 20 years into social security and medicare before moving to Europe to be with my husband. When you pay into something, it is an entitlement and that word should never be confused with welfare.

    It's high time the GOP admitted that the reason America in such dire straits is because the GOP chomped at the bit, forcing America into 2 wars, the GOP did not budget the cost of those wars, and now they want to take my money and your money to pay for their mistakes.

    Thank you, President Obama, for defending my hard-earned dollars, for defending the American people against the GOP, who only cares about Big Business, the wealthy 1%, and putting politics above patriotism.

    December 31, 2012 03:27 am at 3:27 am |
  15. Mark

    The Republicans could have come out the real winners by compromising just a little bit. They could have agreed to say tax cuts for folks making less then 500K and tax increases for those making more then 500K. At the same time, suggesting the democrats concede to some entitlement reforms and tax code rewrite. Instead they have chosen a path that clearly demonstrates that they are the party that supports the wealthy of our nation and not the other 98% of us. They may not survive and probably should not survive, as a major political party in the US.

    December 31, 2012 03:33 am at 3:33 am |
  16. Real American

    This whole fiscal cliff fiasco is simpy another repeat of Republicans waiting to the last hour (on purpose and planned) to see how much crap they can get in at the last minute. It will pass a vote, it always does. You have to understand Republicans will not pass anything until the last minute, regardless of what's in the bill. So all this worry about going over the cliff is just a waste of time and and a big media blowup. The plan was to wait until the last minute to get as much crap in as possible. If they voted earlier, they may miss some funding for their special interests. Republicans don't care about the people of the US, they only care about their special interests (NRA, ect). Everything Republicans believe in kill Americans. Wars, guns ect. In fact. their policies and beliefs end up killing more American's than terrorists have or ever will. Republicans are the true enemies of this country. Just open your eyes and count the dead bodies related to everything Republicans believe in and support.

    December 31, 2012 03:34 am at 3:34 am |
  17. Real American

    If the average American spent all their time in their jobs blaming others for their mistakes and problems, they'd be fired. I would love to see a bill passed that punished members of congress for name calling, insulting and making excuses. If they spent as much time doing their jobs as they do pointing fingers, we'd have some good bills passed. Also make a law that prohibits any contributions or favors from special interest groups (ie NRA). If congress can't be bought, then bills can't be passed that take only special interests and "campaign funders" needs into consideration. Remember, special interest groups are "owed" favors for the money they give. Stop that practice and prosecute any politician that is being bought out !!! It's time the people of the US are considered to be the special interest of Congress and I and others are tired of capital hill revolving around special interests groups that give lots of money, to basically buy every law that's passed. It's going to destroy this country. Big change is needed.

    December 31, 2012 03:44 am at 3:44 am |
  18. black_ram_lager


    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!

    Wow, I'm from Michigan and I can't believe you are too! I'll tell you what President Obama accomplished – he saved Chrysler and GM, which means Michigan still makes cars and the hundreds of thousands of people who work for auto supply companies and dealerships still have jobs.

    What was that thing you said about people not wanting to work? Are you REALLY from Michigan? And what are you smoking, dude?

    December 31, 2012 03:47 am at 3:47 am |
  19. Mark

    how can a useless congress be so bitter. these people all work for us but don't realize it-yet. they don't work for the tea party (who ever elected them?) or the lobbyist Grover not the Muppet

    December 31, 2012 03:52 am at 3:52 am |
  20. BrianL

    We are all going to lose. Neither side is talking about anything remotely close to spending cuts. The trajectory is set and even if we had all of Obama's tax increases (as he has proposed) combined with Boehner's (so called) draconian spending cuts, we will still likely be over $24T in debt by 2022. This will be fantastic for our children and grandchildren.

    Our government is addicted to our money and (we the sheep) keep arguing over tax increases on the so called "evil rich" or slivers of reductions in the amount of massive debt we are accumulating. Neither proposal is anything close to fiscal responsibility and I am tired of the bickering over which one is blessed and which one is evil as they are both a joke.

    December 31, 2012 03:59 am at 3:59 am |
  21. craig

    First, this is yet another demonstration that the GOP cares only about "wins" and "losses" and cannot begin to consider anything that in their view looks like a "win" for the President. Now, that said, which side has even proposed ideas beyond their initial starting position. HINT: It isn't the GOP. Boehner came up with Plan B and the House GOP told him to take a hike.

    If the GOP sees this as a "loss" then I'd suggest two things. First, the No Deal perspective of the GOP means the American People are the real losers in this mess, and we WILL remember in 2014. Secondly, if there MUST be a winner and a loser...and the President is the "winner" then that must we already all know...the GOP is the loser. HINT: They would have been losers regardless, because they are all about themselves and not remotely concerned about their employer...the American People.

    December 31, 2012 04:03 am at 4:03 am |
  22. strangerq

    We can't become Greece. The United States has a monetary system. Greece does not. They are part of the EU.

    The only way we could "become Greece" would be if we joined the EU. The fact that Graham does not understand this shows just how ignorant he really is.


    Yes. Graham always seems bitter, nasty and ignorant.

    December 31, 2012 04:15 am at 4:15 am |
  23. John Q Public

    If only we could get rid of the GOP House, perhaps we could eliminate the problems that caused the 2008 crash. personally, I would love to see each of the "too big to fail" banks & the Wall St firms that were bailed out by the Feds become nationalized. Thet tanked the housing market & caused untold hardship on Americans with their forclosures they rigged for their own profit. It is time that the people take the profit motive out of this segment of the economy.

    December 31, 2012 04:17 am at 4:17 am |
  24. strangerq

    I have paid into Social Security for 32 years. I truly doubt I will see any of that benefit when, and if, I retire. In the end, our country and children are going to lose. The writing is on the wall people, wake up.

    Enough of the freaking doom and gloom. It makes a person want to throw up from laughing so hard at such ridiculous comments.


    When Newt was speaker in the 90's he used to say that Social Security would be gone by the year 2000.

    GOP always repeats the same putrid talking points until the uniformed just start mindlessly dittoing.

    Nothing is wrong with social security. This year, it took in more (again) than it paid.

    Taxes are lower now than they have been in 80 years, and that tells us how much room we have for increasing revenue in the future if we have to.

    GOP *hates* social security and medicare because they are the crowning accomplishments of the democratic party.

    Destroy them (and ObamaCare too) and you destroy the democratic party, that goal is what truly drives the cretinous GOP.

    December 31, 2012 04:21 am at 4:21 am |
  25. strangerq

    Let's go over the cliff and force the GOP to except the following terms of surrender:

    End sequestration – all of it.

    Tax cuts expire at above 250k.

    Lift Debt Ceiling.

    End fillabuster.

    End Gerrymandering (GOP lost the house and senate in popular vote and cling to power by anti-democratic gerrymandered districts only).

    December 31, 2012 04:25 am at 4:25 am |
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