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. IAMBeowolf

    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.
    And it will take much longer than 4 years to pay for unfunded tax cuts during "deficits don't matter" days, plus 2 unfunded wars and horrible management of our housing and wall street. It's people like you that refuse to see what has been done in the past and are just 'looking' for someone to blame.

    December 31, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  2. Tim

    That is the problem with Washington. They are obsessed with which politicians and parties "won" and which ones "lost", even as many people in middle America are the losers because of their partisan posturing. Shut up and fix it, folks - stop with the excessively partisan garbage and insistence that some things be "off the table" already.

    December 31, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  3. PaganScorp

    Your president didn't win, you the people won. He did what he said he would do. Is his plan going to change your country overnight? Of course not, no plan is going to fix years of abuse by the bush admin overnight. It's going to take years. However Obama's plan is going to head in the right direction and will in the long run fix your country. Any plan at all by the gop is going to give you more of the same and will only make things worse. Of couse the right wing calls it a win for Obama. Not thinking about the fact that your country is going to win and also not paying any attention to the fact that it is what the people voted for. Afterall, the gop in your country never bother to pay attention to what the people want and vote for!

    December 31, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  4. Sheila

    @ Southern Hottie – That's the big problem – There's waaay too many people that want their freedoms that this country has to offer – but they contradict theirselves – ( with FOX NOISE ) and it's having an impact on their brain )

    December 31, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  5. Sue

    Why does the GOP hate helping the working class guy?? Why do they think it is okay for the rich to pay a smaller percentage of income taxes and the middle class a higher percentage?? Why did they think it is okay that women make less than men who are doing the same work, affecting their SS and pensions??

    December 31, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  6. Open your eyes!

    from Jeff: Obama = complete lack of leadership. When the board members are squabbling and infighting, you FIRE the CEO. Obama should be fired.
    BRAVO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But take heart - the pendulum ALWAYS swings back!

    December 31, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  7. Dave

    All I know is that AMERICA did NOT win if a person making $390,000 a year is considered 'middle income" and will continue to enjoy lower tax rates. Obama sold out America by upping the $200K to $400K...and well, hell, the Repiblicans have never cared about "America", only the rich. SAD day for America if this actually goes through.

    December 31, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  8. Sheila

    @ Scott S. @ 11:18 am – LOL – you are so right on this – My husband & I have travelled thru S.C. and we've seen it – not a place I would want to go for travel, for sure. There are still a lot of people in that state that thinks we are still stuck in the 1950's, and want everyone else in this country to do the same.

    December 31, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  9. hozo1

    Lindsay Graham coming out with a strategic statement to sway opinion before the deal .. another cheap trick by another cheap politician

    December 31, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  10. wm Scot

    Winning ! Is that the take way from this mess ! What it tells me is that it is that the GOP thinks this is a game playing with our livelyhood and the full credit of this great country ! This is the face of the GOP !

    December 31, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  11. Joe68

    Typical GOP politicians. They only worry about "winning" or "losing" politically. How about doing your job for your boss? the taxpayer. Now we have this minority political party holding the future of 99% of America just to prevent their campaign contributors from paying the same % rate as the rest of the country. Cant wait for 2014 to vote them out of office.

    December 31, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  12. wisewalt

    Graham can't put two sentences together without saying "becoming Greece". He learns a new catch phrase and he just wears it out. He is past his prime, he used to be one of the reasonable Republicans. Republicans need to stop demonizing America, they have lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. Wonder what it will take to convince them they are out of step with the people.

    December 31, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  13. Ginni Tritt

    No, Obama did not win–the ppl who reelected him won. He cannot be expected to undo immediately what has taken decades to do–put the debt into a spiral. Started with Regan with Star Wars and continued thru Bush's Wars–especially Iraq, when he had a blank check and never even wrote the War into the budget.
    We can work at this more and more.
    One question I have never seen addressed–how much do FORMER (even ONE TERM) US Congressional members–Hse and Sen.– make AFTER they leave office? Do they get the Gold Insurance Policy Congress has awarded themselves? Can the American ppl vote on THAT issue? Is there anywhere to go for the facts on that information? Start at the top with bold cuts if you are gonna cut. And then keep working at it.

    December 31, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  14. Kevin C. Murphy

    The US cannot end up like Greece, for the simple fact that the US controls its currency and Greece, being on the Euro, does not.

    This is so simple a child could understand it. Lindsay Graham, as usual, is being deliberately deceptive.

    December 31, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  15. stranger in an increasingly strange land

    Republicans seem to think that the public is not going to notice that the only thing stopping an agreement is Republicans demand for tax breaks for the richest people in the country.

    The fact that Republicans are willing to force middle class and poor people to pay tax increases just to try and get breaks for the sickeningly wealthy is obscene. Republicans believe that the average person is dumb enough to forget what is happening by the next election. Then they will blame the administration for the lack of agreement on the "Fisca cliff".

    Nice try. We will remember and Republicans will see another big loss of seats in both the House and Senate. Happy days are here again.

    December 31, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  16. MTATL67

    What cannot be understated here is Graham and the other so called Republican Congressional leadership's monumental failure to do their jobs because of their personal disdain for President Obama. 'Small-minded' DON'T tell me they have phobia towards the President.

    December 31, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  17. Blue Baboon

    The GOP only just now realized that Obama won? No wonder we've spent the last four years spinning our wheels! Maybe we can get something done, now.

    December 31, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  18. Scott

    Coming from a big-government, big-spending Republican, his words sound hypocritical.

    December 31, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  19. ER

    Greece? The US is NOTHING like Greece. It's like comparing apples to oranges.

    December 31, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  20. kmac

    And when all these people find out they are actually dependent on an economy based on Federal government contracts, subsidies and spending LG will be out on his ear.

    December 31, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  21. ObamaUnitl2016

    Greece? I thought that was just a movie.

    December 31, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  22. Bart

    Obama won? To say that he won while our country is going off the cliff is beyond offensive. He would have won he got what he was asking for, which he did not. The country would have won if there was an agreement to raise taxes/revenue and also cut spending a decent amount. The baby-boomers are the most selfish bunch of people ever – their parents gave their lives in WWII and they are now asking for their children and grand children to pay for their party while they give up nothing. Shameful.

    December 31, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  23. Carl

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

    December 31, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  24. accountable government

    Congress is responsible for making budgets. We are in a hole, a very big one. Housing crisis was the bubble that popped due to forcing banks to give loans to people without income verification (anti-redling legislation) as well as the huge derivatives debacle. The large spending on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the rebate checks compounded it further.

    For those who point their finger at one party or the other, every last person in the government bears responsibility for this mess. Since the Great Depression, Congress has been run by a Democratic majority more than 70% (for those who think it is only the Republicans at fault). Many programs were passed, including Social Security and Medicare, that are now talking points of the overspending affecting us today. Can not expect to ignore these large expenditures and everything magically fixes itself. The government is serving its own interests, not those of the people and it is bankrupting this country.

    December 31, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  25. Linda

    GOP inflicts their ill ideology and mostly lies on their own voters and unfortunately those voters actually vote against their own interests in these red states by standing by GOPs lame rheotic. In 2014, stand by your toilets and flush this extreme GOP out of office.

    December 31, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
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