Graham on fiscal cliff: Obama wins 'hollow' political victory
December 30th, 2012
12:38 PM ET
10 months 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. Skeptimist

    There's no practical way to fire Congress, but suppose the Dept of Justice indicted the whole gang under the RICO statutes? We've got a prima facie case for organized crimes of fraud & embezzlement based on the fact that they collect their full pay while consistently and deliberately failing to do their job. Their only accomplishments are voting to give themselves pay raises and extended time off. Even when they are in session, they prohibit CSPAN cameras from panning the chamber because they don't want us to see that most of the seats are empty.

    The judiciary could, upon conviction, subject Congress to supervision by a court-appointed oversight team of old-time conservatives like Dwight Eisenhower and Harry Truman. That committee would establish standards for attendance and job performance with monthly goals. For any month congress fails to meet their goals, they don't get paid – and get hit with a 10% cut in their absurd retirement benefits. Most of them would resign within 6 months (not that you'd notice any difference in governance). By then, those who accepted replacement appointments would know the new rules and be willing and determined to actually do their job – like real Americans.

    December 31, 2012 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  2. HenryMiller

    A vindictive "victory" for the spendthrift-in-chief, a significant loss for the country. You don't treat a cancer by letting it get bigger and more pervasive, and the US government is nothing if not a cancer that will eventually kill us.

    December 31, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  3. Jill-IN

    Going the way of Greece is a false argument. U.S. products and service sector, not to mention, the military industrial complex, is something Greece could never come close to matching. I have wondered the past 10 years is why on earth the moderate Republican leaders such as Lugar, Graham, Boehner, McCain, and on and on, did not stand up to their far right wing and then the T-Party. They had so many opportunities to come out and take leadership against the far right so many times in the past decade and they did not. That showed lack of leadership and guts. They have neither.

    December 31, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  4. Rudy NYC

    NClaw441 wrote:

    Taxing the wealthy does not begin to reduce the deficit. There are not enough wealthy to make a real difference. ....
    ----------------
    Any difference that helps is step in the right direction. Declaring otherwise is doesn't acknowledge the scope of the problem. This deficit problem has more than a decade of momentum behind it and it will take at least that long to correct. The funny things is this. We didn't have an annual deficit problem until Republicans cut tax rates on the wealthy while declaring that "deficits don't matter." BTW, if think I'm suggesting that raising rates on the wealthy is ultimate solution then you are trapped within the right wing media entertainment complex. I refer to it as "the hamster cage", complete with hamster wheel.

    December 31, 2012 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  5. SoObvious

    Finally, an admission!! It's been about Obama all along! They're just against Obama. It's all about whether or not Obama "wins". They have not workable plan, no good ideas, no vision. Their only myopic goal is that Obama loses

    December 31, 2012 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  6. Anonymous

    @wastewater1

    Hey, sweetheart. The election is over. Obama won.

    December 31, 2012 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  7. wjmccartan

    First Lindsey should be tarred and feathered as well as Bonehead, these two have held the American people hostage for far to long. The fact is cnn will not print what I would really like to say about them so like Lindsey said what I have said is hollow compared to what I'd like to be able to say. The fact that the president doesn't walk from house to house kissing behinds in order to get something done, gives him more integrity then either of these two crooks could ever hope to have, keep moving forward Mr. President.

    December 31, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  8. CatsX9

    You can continue to blame Bush for the state of our country, however, he has been out of office for 4 years. Time for someone else to start getting the blame. No one has 'won'. It is time for our political leaders to act like adults and quit the blame game and the name calling. Our country is in a sorry state right now.

    December 31, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  9. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    @HenryMiller
    A vindictive "victory" for the spendthrift-in-chief, a significant loss for the country. You don't treat a cancer by letting it get bigger and more pervasive, and the US government is nothing if not a cancer that will eventually kill us.

    December 31, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
    *************************************************************************************************************
    Are you serious? Did you call Bush 43 a spendthrift when he cut taxes and started two wars without paying for them? Stop watching FOX NOISE and especially Bill O'Reilly.

    December 31, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  10. Puddin

    Lindsay Graham is one negative politician; he needs to be retired. He shouldn't blame Obama for the huge deficit we have; he should place the blame on his buddy, GWBush for the mess he left the country in. Now that's not negative; it's a well-known fact.

    December 31, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  11. rizzman

    I don't get why everything has to be either a win or loss for political parties in DC. How about just doing what is right for the "people", you know....the ones you are supposedly representing in the government. The only win you should be celebrating senator is if you win an election and that is it. So you and all the elected officials at the federal, state, and local levels should put your win/loss mentalities aside when it comes to getting laws done that are in the best interest of the people. Geez.

    December 31, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  12. Anonymous

    "They had so many opportunities to come out and take leadership against the far right so many times in the past decade and they did not. That showed lack of leadership and guts. They have neither."

    The Republican party lacks true leadership and those they look to for leadership (Graham, McCain, Boehner) are wusses. You just can't get around it. These dupes are afraid of their own shadow and are very easily intimidated. Hence the "tough talk". They all talk a really mean talk ... but walk in fear of their own primaries. Think Middle School show offs. This is what has become of the Grand Old Party. They've all regressed back to childhood clowns-manship and can't figure out why no one wants to play with them anymore.

    December 31, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  13. Pable

    The WW2 generation was the greatest generation. This was followed by the WORST generations in american history (yeah, I am talking about you). Everyone wants to just kick the can on debt (Obviously that is will end up happening with negotiations)because you, as Americans, don't want to change your standard of living and wish to just dump this problem on future generations. Tell me, how on earth do we repay 17 trillion in debt??

    December 31, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  14. newt buster

    How long has this clown been in office. He has to take personal responsibility for the fiscal condition we are in. We need term limits for persons specifically like him.

    December 31, 2012 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  15. sonnyspoon

    It's all about Obama get over it GOP you guys lost stop holding the country hostage with your nonsense. Better yet lets go off the fiscal cliff the American people will remember you clowns election time just ask your buddy Mitt Romney.

    December 31, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  16. Anonymous

    Yeah, well. This is what happens when one political party signs pledges to a man who has never held an elected office in his life. Why GOPers signed Norquist's pledge is beyond comprehension. That he wields so much power in the GOP is a statement all it's own. Apparently one or two lobbyists really do run the GOP. Who'd of thought a bunch of tough talking GOPers could be so beholded to such a nobody as Grover Norquist. I'd dump the man and his silly pledge and be done with it. In fact, I'd dump a whole slew of GOPers and start trying to bring the party back to some sort of political relevence.

    December 31, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  17. mattski

    Graham's cynicism is another example of the GOP's inability to face reality. Obama is in office today because Americans rejected GOP extremism on this issue.

    December 31, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  18. CarolinaGirl

    In answer to your question newt buster the reason he is still in office because South Carolinas are so backwards. They will vote Republican even if they know the candidate is crooked.

    December 31, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  19. Rudy NYC

    CatsX9 wrote:

    You can continue to blame Bush for the state of our country, however, he has been out of office for 4 years. Time for someone else to start getting the blame. No one has 'won'. It is time for our political leaders to act like adults and quit the blame game and the name calling. Our country is in a sorry state right now.
    -----------------–
    Of course George W. Bush still gets the blame. We're still following along his economic path, are we not? The worst blame that one could possibly acccuse Pres. Obama of is not turning away from the economic course and future laid out by Bush. Despite then Sen. Obama's promise of ending the Bush tax cuts and financial deregulation that led to the Great Recession, nothing much has really changed in the past 4 years. Has it?

    December 31, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  20. Realist

    Well Mr Grahm, that confusion you are feeling is your ideology colliding with the truth

    December 31, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  21. Scott S.

    What do you expect from Lindsey Graham, long time senator of one of the most politically messed up states in the entire country? The state of South Carolina is stuck in the 1950's. The capital city of Columbia is a garbage dump (literally...there's garbage all over the place) and the state's legislation has done absolutely nothing to improve education and bring jobs to the state. And you almost think it's on purpose. Look how long ineffective, stupid politicians like Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham have held their jobs. The state elected Nikki Haley, who's a Sarah Palin clone. Her biggest accomplishment thus far is declaring Marcus Lattimore day. I wouldn't listen to anybody from that state.

    December 31, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  22. Vote 2012

    So long suckers!/good ole boys/GOP. America is what it is today/NEW, so let the good times keep rolling/FORWARD!

    December 31, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  23. Rosslaw

    Graham and his ilk have moved from being merely less than useless to constituting a national security threat. His idea of heaven would be a domestic terrorist event that killed thousands of Americans to use against Obama given that there is absolutely no chance the republicans can or even think about doing anything constructive.

    December 31, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  24. airider

    People keep thinking the current situation where entitlements are out-of-control started with Bush or Obama. If you bother doing a little history investigation you'd see that this all started back in the 1960's with Kennedy's and Johnson's "Great Society" policies. Unfortunately no administration or congress since then has made the necessary corrections to those program to keep them solvent while minimizing the impact to the U.S. Treasury and Taxpayer. So now, since we didn't make small less painful adjustments over the years, we're gonna have to make a large painful one now. This isn't a win – lose scenario....this is a lose-lose scenario...we've past the time long ago when this could ever be construed as a "win".

    December 31, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  25. Dreamer96

    .I can not understand why the GOP love the memory of Reagan...Reagan planted the seeds for two wars against Iraq by sell Saddam those WMD's in the first place...Used the CIA to transport and sell illegal drugs right here in the US in Arkansas and used the CIA to protect the drug dealers from the FBI and local law enforcement....We need to return to a balance economy and Clinton raised taxes and created 22 million new jobs, more then Reagan ever did, and benefits lasted longer then under Reagan....We need the GOP to stop pushing the Reagan policy agenda, those policies were not good for 98% of America...

    December 31, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
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