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. ThinkAgain: All the GOP's policies are proven failures.

    @shawbrooke: "The President gets what he wants at the expense of doing anything real. How sad."

    And you get to live in a false alternate reality at the expense of dealing with facts and accepting that President Obama's policies are turning our country around, in spite of all the Repub knuckle-headed opposition. How sad.

    December 30, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  2. cbp

    Sen. Graham and others have determined that this so-called crisis will be drawn-out as long as possible hoping for some sort of political victory. This whole situation should have been solved directly after the election. Rep. Boehner and Sen. McConnell are not leading their party and in fact, those with agendas determined by outside sources such as Grover Norquist are slowing down the solutions. Agree on what you can, pass that portion and finish up after real negotiating sessions. It is not necessary to have press conferences as Mr. Boehner after each meeting.

    Again, we are viewing the same roadblocks. We have made it perfectly clear that the Congress needs to be willing to work to the benefit of Americans. The constant attempts to stop the President from fulfilling his campaign promises is not acceptable. Work together or leave the Senate and House and let someone else take your place who knows how to work together and compromise. There should be a win-win solution negotiated by members of each side. The Republicans have played this game long enough – work together or resign.

    December 30, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  3. Dan (Atlanta)

    Senators comparing our country to Greece should be tried for treason. And, as much as Republicans want to hamper any efforts to have a functioning government – the last time I checked, we're still not Greece. We have low borrowing costs, we have a vibrant economy, and employment of about 7%. Most people pay their taxes, and we don't have widespread corruption. But it often seems that the Republicans WANT us to become more like Greece, so that they can stop paying their taxes and claim it was Obama's fault that the country failed.

    December 30, 2012 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  4. PaPilot

    I despise Lindsay Graham. He actually had the nerve to come to our plant in Greer and tell us it was "Good for America" that our employer was eliminating our jobs.

    December 30, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  5. ToldUso

    If the Repubs would stop considering "Obama wins" and start looking at "middle class wins" we might get somewhere.

    December 30, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  6. Thinkergal

    Hey, Graham, when the President wins, the middle class wins. This is not comparable with Republican goals.

    December 30, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  7. TonyK

    "Congress" did not create the cliff, the GOP did, by blackmailing Obama and the Dems by voting against raising the debt ceiling.


    December 30, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  8. frank thomas

    r,s now make up 30% and falling here in California, a state republican senator just abanoned the titanic, became independent, says the R,s are not conservative enough, Just keep saying that and the gop will be extinct like the dinosaurs.

    December 30, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  9. Rob Johnson

    I'm just surprised to see a Republican admit that Obama out-maneuvered them politically on something. He has been doing it for years, but the GOP has a stubborn insistence on seeing Obama as some kind of lightweight who just got lucky and became President by accident.

    Disagree with Obama if you will, but underestimate him at your peril, Republicans. At least Lindsey Graham has the sense to recognize a worthy adversary when he sees one.

    December 30, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  10. barbra k

    Republicans like to play hold out. Go ahead. Time is running short. In fact, 11:59PM on 12-31-2012. (31 hours away) Lets see who can hold out the longest. Time runs out,the rich will pay lots more taxes. How will Grover and the rich feel about this? I know that then there will be frantic negotiations to lower taxes. The republicans will have outsmarted themselves. Since the Teaparty cropped up, republicans have started to become extinct.

    December 30, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  11. Alina77

    This senator had become as worseless as anyone else .... WORSELESS finger pointer, that's who you are Mr.

    December 30, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  12. TJ

    To any senators who see this please stop comparing us to Greece. The biggest issue the Greeks had is that their economy was based almost solely on tourism and another is that they and their money where basically controlled near the end by the rest of the eurozone.

    December 30, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  13. Donnie the Lion

    Because Graham has done SO MUCH to help fix the problem himself.


    December 30, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  14. Adam Dorfman

    Graham told CNN. "It will be a political victory that is hollow in nature when it comes to preventing our country from becoming Greece." USA is no longer working within a Keynesian theory my friend, this about controlling the money supply. USA is a unique economy with unique capital flow characteristics. If you think spending has been the issue, you should live in Zimbabwe as in that economy if you spend too much you will be showered with inflation rapidly, as the increase in the money supply will immediately hit asset prices. Then all your current thoughts will be realized. USA is NOT Zimbabwe. Learn the money flow difference.

    December 30, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  15. Bitter GOP

    Badmouth Obama all u want but he still will be POTUS for the next 4 years...had the GOP found a real candidate, stopped being corrupt and in fighting and maybe you would have won and had a chance to drive policy.

    December 30, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  16. mary

    Adios amigos, let's watch the dear president bring this country even deeper into a recession. He is a disaster,,,who ask for raises when a company/country is in the hole? Great idea Obama just dig us deeper and then maybe just maybe the libs will wake up and see what a mess you've made of our country.

    December 30, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  17. AgrippaMT

    Lindsey Graham has a lot of gall to call President Obama "small minded." It's the Republicans and tea baggers who have small, pinched minds focused on personal benefits, greed and selfishness. This is definitely a prime example of the pot calling the kettle black.

    December 30, 2012 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  18. Neftali

    II truly do not understand why both political parties cannot reach some form of agreement. Both are so hell bent on the 'politics of blaming each other that they miss the entire picture altogether. I will admit that both sides are guilty of mismanaging our financial house to the extent that we may never be able to remedy our debt(s). That of course is not, and should never be, an excuse to forgo any effort into 'fixing' our financial state.

    December 30, 2012 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  19. GI Joe

    A lot of the wealthy don't seem to understand that more than a few people did plan for retirement, but had an unforeseen hospitalization that their insurance refused to pay for entirely and it left the people flat broke.

    They can still be hit with the same thing, if it happens this year. A car accident, a heart attack, a stroke. If your insurance company refuses to pay and you are hit with a $200 to $300 thousand hospital/doctor bill is going to drain your savings and 401K.

    December 30, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  20. AC Summers

    GOP is bitter. Not about Obama but US

    December 30, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  21. Mr. Mark

    He is right. Obama won a politcal victory. I am really don't undestand so many people that are considered the direction we are heading? Do you really think we can run a trillion defeicits every year? What exactly is going to happen when people who loan us money are to far in debt you don't have the ability to pay us, so no more money, or money at a MUCH higher rate? Then what? And you do know you can't tax your way out of this?

    December 30, 2012 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  22. TJeff1776

    Graham's opinions are like his body hairs- got plenty of'em and ALL pretty dumb. But then there's just something in South Carolina air that renders them that way. WHAT can be said of a GOP crowd that elects the Grinch. They haven't changed since firing on Fort Sumter.

    December 30, 2012 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  23. carlos

    Makes sence, a small minded president for an even smaller minded electorate that chose him in the popularity contest. Too bad our country is going the "dancing with the stars" route where substance and meaning loses out to pompus popularity. RIP America, it was a great run for a while.

    December 30, 2012 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  24. mommytwice

    A Republican is calling Obama small minded?? really???? I am laughing out loud. Pot, meet kettle. What a raging hypocrite.

    December 30, 2012 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  25. carlos

    OK, so we taxed the crap out of them, now lets move on to disarming the public so that they can't resist what we have in store next. Good thing newton happenend so the public will line up to have rights stripped away.

    December 30, 2012 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
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