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. SteveInMN

    OK – At the start, Obama wants a bigger deal – the 'Grand Bargain' – Rethugs wan't come to the table to do it - a smaller deal is all they will (conceivably) agree to - and now Graham backhands Obama like this is somehow his fault?


    Vote. Out. The. Rethugs.

    December 30, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  2. sharoom

    Maybe the GOP needs to stop looking at this in terms of winning and losing.

    December 30, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  3. Evergreen

    The House wasted years trying to undermine the President when they could have been working to get us out of the recession. A branch of government can not say they want to make the President (regardless of who is elected) a one term president and not expected to be punished in the next election.

    December 30, 2012 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  4. Squigman

    The republicans are in a world of their own. They seem to believe that they, and they alone are the keepers of the flame. They are the bastions of liberty. That they are the patriots, of patriots. All others are meaningless. The clown pictured talks of a hollow victory for the democrats. I'm sure there were plenty of chances for there to be common ground, but whenever there was progress, there's was always someone from the republican side of the equation getting greedy. That's the way it always works. It will never change, unless they are voted out of office.

    December 30, 2012 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  5. KC Yankee

    Graham and the Republicans have been big on bipartisan actions all along, of course. Not at all small-minded. They were looking out for the country all during the past four years when their goal was to say "no" to anything that the President or Democrats came up with.

    December 30, 2012 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  6. Meki60

    Obama's goal is to ruin the economy, that's what a charlatan does.

    December 30, 2012 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  7. anonoymous

    Why does this have to be about the gop and president winning or losing? I thought congress reprsented the the people and we the people agree with the president. The deal should reflect what the major of the people want.

    December 30, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  8. Swan

    Lindsay, when did you ever really care about the deficit? Which one of those defense appropriations for Charleston did you ever vote against? You simply disgust me with your cheap shots from the bench.

    December 30, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  9. Daniel Hoffman

    Where was he when his party controlled the Senate and started two unpaid for wars and lowered tax revenues?

    December 30, 2012 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  10. Fact Checker

    Yes, Lindsay. To you it's about winning and losing. I just can't wait for February when the GOPs push the country to default in order to win the debt ceiling debate. Don't you know that in the end, we all lose?

    December 30, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  11. Andy

    So I get to send the govt more money and they get to spend even more than that again putting us nowhere. How about we send them no money until they figure out how to get that balance back to zero.

    December 30, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  12. jane

    Senator Graham is a POOR EXCUSE for a senator....This is exactly what is wrong with our country....These so-called elected officials are simply playing games with the American people...They either don't care or ignorant to the fact that they are placing STRESS on the average American....SENATOR it's NOT whether OBAMA, GOP or DEMs win...It's whether AMERICA WINS.....This is NOT a Freakin Football GAME!!!!!

    December 30, 2012 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  13. Kimberlyclark

    This guy couldn't be more wrong. If we go into another recession, jobs will be lost, the stock market will crash and INCOME TAX will decrease, so we will have less money to pay down the deficit. Every economist knows deficit spending is necessary during a recession. The reason we have a huge deficit isn't because Obama increased spending, it is because our Tax Base was decimated by the 2008 crash, before Obama was elected. Lindsey Graham has sold his soul to Tea Party radicals with a racist agenda in order to keep his seat. He and John McCain should just quit. McCain lost the Presidential election but he thinks he can pick the cabinet? Obama needs to man-up and slap McCain an Graham down. Political hacks whose careers are over.

    December 30, 2012 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  14. Facts don't Lie

    This has been a BIG problem with this congress on BOTH sides....who is going to get credit for a win. We the American people need a win regardless if the president gets the credit or the GOP......time to end this childish acting now and get something done for God's sake.

    December 30, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  15. Anthony

    It is a hollow victory because Republicans insist on having a hollow fight, after they have LOST an election and have LESS leverage than they did in the debt ceiling crisis. In the debt ceiling crisis all Republicans could get were the automatic cuts to domestic and military spending that, along with the expiring Bush tax cuts, created the fiscal cliff. Republicans need to stop creating problems that they say they want to solve. Without the largest tax cuts in history (the Bush tax cuts) that are due to expire at the end of this year, we would not be facing the largest tax hikes in history.

    December 30, 2012 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  16. surfsock1

    The Iraq war is over, the Afghan war is almost over, people are working again, the housing market is firming up, interest rates are going down...etc. The Democratic party has delivered surplus after surplus in the past. The Republicans rape the economy for their own sake and deliver dept and despair, war and decision, ignorance and poverty (for most). Under a Democratic government with today's principals the economy and dept will improve and so will the moral and value of our children.

    December 30, 2012 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  17. amf140

    That's all the Arrogance in Chief cares about – political victories. It's really a shame that the POTUS has so little leadership ability. He is the cause of the divisiveness in Washington. The President deserves the credit when the government is working but he also derserves the blame when it's not. Sorry but that is in the job description. I am afraid that this elitist has no idea of what "accountability" means.

    December 30, 2012 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  18. Bart Brown

    Not as hollow as Lindsey Graham's head!

    December 30, 2012 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  19. Ole

    Sour grapes Lindsay. You have had almost 10 years of tax cuts and look where it got us. The rich got richer and the rest of us got laid off.

    December 30, 2012 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  20. Jack


    I am 65 year old conservative and even I understand that the President won and the conservatives lost!

    So, let get on with, we have to rebuild our infrastructure, invest in education, invest in research, invest in energy independence.

    Mr. Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, the FOX bubble heads, you have been knocked off your white horse and your silver armour has been muddy. So, please shut up! Dignified people graciously accept defeat and move on, not act like Trump, which a majority of the Republican Party is doing!

    December 30, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  21. babooph

    Where were these words of wisdom when little George was getting messages from God to go to idiotic wars paid for by borrowing from China ..

    December 30, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  22. Langley Whickersham

    Signing a pledge not to raise taxes no matter what circumstance is small minded. Refusing to budge on any point is in negotiations is small minded. Refusing to admit that the majority of the people want the rich to pay more in taxes is small minded. I would take a look at your own Party Mr. Graham before calling our president any names!

    December 30, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  23. DocHollywood

    "Yes, I just can't understand him, he's just.....different, you know? I can't put my finger on it, he's just not like us" said Graham. "He's being small minded. Why, he's only given small concessions, not like us Republicans who have absolutely refused to give anything. Why can't he be more like us and give us everything we want while we give absolutely nothing? Now, I know we could have gotten a decent deal a couple years ago, but we stood our ground then and refused to give 'em anything. I just don't understand why this man is so ...... different." Graham spokesman said the republicans would continue to refuse to give up absolutely anything until the American people throw them out. Which shouldn't be long.

    December 30, 2012 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  24. Charles Hughes

    Senator Graham is as responsible as anyone for the deficit. It seems rather hypocritical for him to be complaining that the US is "from becoming Greece." as he is one of the people that set us on that road.

    December 30, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  25. Saboth

    And here is the problem at it's core. Republicans still view our government as some kind of power-struggle game where either they "win", or democrats "win". Your number one concern is making sure America becomes stronger and you have a healthy middle class while the poor are given opportunites for success. Not to "win" so you score political points with your buddies.

    December 30, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
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