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. Critical Thinker

    $250,000 per year in high cost cities is middle class, not wealthy. If Obama does not raise this threshold to a minimum of $400,000 per year, I and many others affected by this low threshold will switch to the Republican party so the law can be changed in 2014.

    December 30, 2012 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  2. Paul

    Prevent the U.S, from becoming Greece? Anyone who thinks that is possible shows a stunning lack of history, business, international markets, politics and basic geography.The fact that we have a U.S Senator that thinks this is possible, then to me it explains why the Congress is so screwed up.

    December 30, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  3. truthmatters

    Now the Republicans are concerned about the future of SS. They talk a good story without any action. Three simple solutions apply to SS and Medicare. 1) Eliminate the ceiling on SS contributions and make it a cost to all. 2) Solve our immigration problems, thereby bringing us back to a balance of youth to elderly. Stop bowing down to other countries regarding the balance of trade. If they do not adopt the same standards as us on regulatory requirements charge an import fee to balance the trade. If these three things were not a political football and open to a discussion of reason we would be out of the soup.

    December 30, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  4. teabooblicanhater

    "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.

    Not to mention you don't want to cross your god, Norquist, and put your "pledge" and career in jeopardy.

    December 30, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  5. blake

    Graham is wrong. And apparently far too easily influenced by beltway thinking and the far left media. All that Obama has done is prove that he is incapable of bi-partisan negotiation, and that he remains firmly committed to his class warfare Marxist agenda going into his second term.

    December 30, 2012 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  6. David Soares

    Hard guy to know and understand?? That's cause he's smarter than you Linsay-it's why you folks got blindsided in Nov........

    December 30, 2012 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  7. PMDU

    Fiscal Cliff is all about the Bush Tax Cuts. They passed these in 2001 & 2003 and is set to expire when Bush left office. Why didn't they make this permanent in 2003 under a GOP controlled Senate & Congress? Because, it's not funded and will add to the Debt and Deficits. When Clinton left in 2001, the Debt was at $6 Trillion. After Bush' last Budget for FYE 2009, the Debt doubled to $12 Trillion. Check the U.S. Treasury records. Bush Tax Cuts, 2 wars, Prescription Medicare, Bailouts are the major contributors to the Debt.

    December 30, 2012 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  8. John doe

    Just go over the cliff we need to we are living way beyond our means and if you want something to cut .cut the feds programs of these qe"s waste of money the fed caused to may bubbles thanks fed bums

    December 30, 2012 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  9. jordans

    Well Lindsey since you have power as a Senator maybe you should or should have tired to participate, As I recall Senators have a vote and a portion of Washingtons power. So for you to sit and I do mean sit by, take your paycheck and do nothing but say the president got his way is hilarious. You elected people want your fantastic pension, health care and salaries and to do nothing. You are a do nothing, all you want to do is protect billionaires and that's not working out for you. Get a new goal and maybe you can accomplish something of note. Otherwise put that clothespin on your nose and watch them pay more in 2013.

    December 30, 2012 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  10. Dee

    I think it is time for the Repubs to understand that President Obama won the election, because the majority of Americans believe that what he is trying to do is right. It is time for them to start working with, not against the American people. They have spoken.

    December 30, 2012 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  11. yogi

    The Republicans have been acting in the negotiations as if they won the elections, get over it, you didn't! What a bunch of delusional, arrogant republiparrots.

    December 30, 2012 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  12. charles

    I am an immigrant , who works two jobs each day. I hate to hear that some jobs are meant for immigrants , but not americans. I have seen people driving expensive cars, going for vacation very year but with no jobs other than government benefits and most of then work under the table so that they cheat on taxes. The government pays for everything in their lives and continue making babies at the expense of those who daily pays taxes. Taxing the rich will not solve this country's financial problems. This government will be solvent if all americans agree and sacrifice by doing these things bellow:-

    1: All government benefits should be transitional not permanent and would be mostly help those people who reel need it.

    2: A complete review of all eligibility requirements for all government benefits.

    3: Unemployement benefits should be discontinued and money re-directed to infrustracture improvements.

    4: All tax deductions should be suspended till the government pays its debt.

    5: Taxes should be 19% for all incomes.
    6: No deal without tackling spending cuts and entitlement reform. Most people will disagree with this approch, but i would step back and honestly ask them, if not now when every one sees the agency of doing so then what will force the two sides to agree? I believe taxes should go up for those who can afford them, but at the same time every one should be taxed and for those like me who have less should know that the government cant care for every need in our lives.

    God bless America!

    December 30, 2012 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  13. Dave

    Enough with this "We're going to be Greece" garbage. There are three fundamental differences. One, we aren't beholden to a currency beyond our control like Greece is to the Euro. Two, we don't have endemic corruption when it comes to paying and collecting taxes. And three, we don't have a religious organization taking up a lot of taxable income and land the way the Greek Orthodox Church does in the Greek economy. Saying "We'll be Greece" is just lazy, unsupportable and is GOP shorthand for "We don't want the rich to pay taxes".

    December 30, 2012 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    When children vote for Santa Claus....Santa Claus "wins".
    But their health loses on the subsequent diet of candy.

    December 30, 2012 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  15. clerrick

    Entitlements? That's an insult for a trust fund paid for by workers that isn't a part of the budget! Social Security is fully funded and the only reason it's an issue is that it's invested in US Treasuries. How about the SS starts buying better performing bonds for things like power plants, highways and sewers- things that will improve American productivity and generate a better return. Force the government to find other suckers to buy it's bonds? Graham is another one of the pols who deserves to lose his job!

    December 30, 2012 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  16. Synthetically Thought...

    Gee, I'm glad Graham was here to remind us that it's not about serving the people, but actually, it's about winning and getting that trophy. Thank you Graham for imparting that wisdom.

    December 30, 2012 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  17. Reggie from LA

    Certainly don't believe that the President feels in anyway victorious. He really wants to support the middle class. I don't always agree with Graham. Sometimes despise his wrongheadedness, but he's no fool. He knows that the best course was to help the middle class. He knows the GOP has been hamstrung by their wealthy "investors" and Grover Nonsense. I get it that the GOP lawmakers are fighting for their jobs more than anything else in this "Cliff thing", but I don't think their solution or lack thereof, will help them. They have served the rich (which includes themselves), now it's time for them to face the nation.

    December 30, 2012 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  18. lyn

    Republicans are only looking after themselves and their Rich Cronies, they don't care a dan about the people who in desperate need, they will do nothing to help the poor, so all that bull coming Graham and his GOP's are really showing the American people they don't care, the GOP's will do nothing to work with our President.

    December 30, 2012 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    The President had offered to increase the limit to $400,000. GOP wasnt willing ( and I cant say I blame them ) to accept the " pass this then we will talk about cuts ". I dont agree with the GOP stance on no tax increase, but I also dont trust the Dems to cut a DAMN thing except military spending, and most those cuts will be from troop withdraws.

    December 30, 2012 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  20. I am the truth

    Of course President Obama won. That is news, sweetie? President Barack Obama thumped the slimy flipflopper-in-chief wannabe in the second historic Obamaslide. mary matalin, babe (what a name for such a hateful person) buchanan, karl marx rove, limpbag, and o'really all stated repeatedly with great confidence that America was going to elect rumney in a landslide. It is very interesting that no one has heard from rove, matalin, or buchanan since. Whatta matter, cats stole their tongues, did it? Much different tune now isn't it, dear? Much different.

    December 30, 2012 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  21. Liz the First

    How is Obama winning anything if the thugs on the 'right' refuse to do the will of the American people and do their jobs? again, the Greed Over People party is showing they would rather throw the whole country under a bus than let taxes go up on the super-rich. when are we going to realize that people who hate government shouldn't be IN government?

    December 30, 2012 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  22. I am the truth

    Of course President Obama won. That is news, sweetie? President Barack Obama thumped the slimy flip_flopper-in-chief wannabe in the second historic Obamaslide. mary matalin, babe (what a name for such a hateful person) buchanan, karl marx rove, limp_bag, and o'really all stated repeatedly with great confidence that America was going to elect rumney in a landslide. It is very interesting that no one has heard from rove, matalin, or buchanan since. Whatta matter, cats stole their tongues, did it? Much different tune now isn't it, dear? Much different.

    December 30, 2012 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  23. Scott

    Graham can hold his nose. Much of the stench is coming from his own party since the GOP failed to provide a real alternative. I did not see a credible deficit reduction plan from the GOP in the last election. Their candidates, both Romney and Ryan, sucked and lost. The GOP as a whole sucked and lost. And you have to suck pretty bad to get beat by the 8% unemployment rate that Obama had.

    December 30, 2012 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  24. ohio

    small minded and consequential at times-. that's rich. With all due respect to Graham
    this comment is just rich with what we've experienced with the wonderful invention of the Tea
    party who may i say at times will go to any lengths to enforce radical views and policies at the expense
    of the country. I think he needs to listen to his buddy, Newt, on some reflections from november.
    Get a deal passed or i see lots of GOP seats walking out the door in 2014.

    December 30, 2012 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  25. I am the truth

    Of course President Obama won, sweetie. America voted President Obama in an Obamaslide. That makes two in a row. Get ready for a three-peat, dear, in 2016.

    December 30, 2012 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
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