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. DH

    You want leadership? Here it is:
    Raise taxes on those making Senate/Congressional salaries and above. Let's see our "leaders" put some skin in this game!

    December 30, 2012 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  2. Bart

    Taxes are the lowest they have been in 100 years. Corporate profits are at record high levels while hourly wages are at record lows. The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting richer and the middle class just keeps getting poorer. Time to end the free ride for the billionaires and corporations. Bring back the mom and pop stores and the 9-5 decent paying jobs.

    December 30, 2012 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  3. Mightmakesrigjt

    Yeah, rich people will pay more taxes!!7 lazy people will continue to feed off hard working people! White house will continue spending! If obama flipped on gay,marriage will he ever legalize marijuana? If biden really wants to protect children, when eill alcohol be made illegal? How many drunk drivers have killed children?

    December 30, 2012 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  4. Jagdonald

    The country loses big here. The fact is that Obama's only plan is to raise taxes on the wealthy. Big darn deal because that will not do anything to the debt he has put us into. He refuses to make cuts to anything other than our defense budget. Clinton did the same and we had 9/11. Obama has come up with nothing other than spending more money and has clearly stated with the new taxes, they will pay for another stimulus. Obama is simply bankrupting this country! Sad for our children and grandchildren!

    December 30, 2012 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  5. JohnReedjr

    The Bush tax cuts were irresponsible when they were enacted. They should be rescinded in stages,starting with people over 250,000, and finally everyone when the economy improves.. Too much of what we have done economically for the last thirty years has favored the wealthy at the expense of the middle class. Graham is a jack___ who cannot stand a black man in the White House. Yes Obama did win a the polls in November.

    December 30, 2012 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  6. 22

    To the GOP,the president can only be seen to "lead" when he agrees to their selfish demands,what a bunch of arrogant goons!Graham you step up and do the job you were hired to do and tell your crowd of spoiled brats to do the same!

    December 30, 2012 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  7. Hillcrester

    The House GOP strategy is intact: Go over the "cliff" so they can vote to REDUCE some tax rates even though voting NOW to increase the top bracket rate(s) leads to exactly the same outcome. The semantics of voting to raise vs. lower rates has an unwarranted political dynamic for the GOP cowards that is corrosive.

    December 30, 2012 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  8. R D

    Rupublican's realize you and your money can not defeat President Obama god is on his side. The people are starting to see who the Republicans are. You hate him because he is black PERIOD

    December 30, 2012 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  9. Teresa

    This is not a game or a competition. Nobody is winning, but if they can't make a deal, the whole country will lose.

    December 30, 2012 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  10. Dave R.

    Graham and the rest of the Repubs need to dump Norquist. I am sick and tired of the Repubs blocking everything thing that is good for the country. They are a bunch of traitors. I hope every one remembers in '14 and gets rid of these obstructionists.

    December 30, 2012 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  11. David

    All you Repubs have brought to the table is cuts to Social Security and raising the Medicare eligibility age, both simply push the costs to the middle class as direct expenses while not cutting taxes proportionately.

    December 30, 2012 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  12. plain&simple

    Mr Graham will never understand or figure out this president....he's simply not able to reach that intelligent level. It's not about "winning" as Graham says! How about It's about doing the best you can to govern our country and find common ground to benefit ALL Americans.....The small mind belongs to the senator.

    December 30, 2012 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  13. gango

    In other words, Senator Graham is disappointed that President Obama does not subscribe to the republican party line. When the republicans are arguing that the super rich in this country deserve a tax break while at the same time fighting to cut back the meager monthly payments retired Americans must live on, then it's a good this to have someone stand up for the "little guy." Even Senator McCain understands this.

    December 30, 2012 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  14. Tony

    Obama won– on November 6. The sooner Republicans understand this, the sooner Congress can move on to more important things, such as passing a jobs bill.

    December 30, 2012 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  15. John

    You're right the majority voted for Obama and the Dems. I, therefore, request that the Bush era tax breaks expire for everyone. Let's see how happy everyone is when they have to pay forwhat they voted for. Perhaps you simply wanted somebody else to pay for what you voted for.

    December 30, 2012 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  16. Weasley

    Where was Senator Graham, and all the other newborn conservative deficit hawks, when President Bush was spending America into oblivion with his two ludicrously expensive, generational budget breaking wars?

    Given Senator Graham's inability to stand against Bush's budget time bomb, his comments concerning the nation's deficit under a Democratic President are completely and utterly disingenuous.

    December 30, 2012 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  17. Dick Guzinya

    Obama is a disgraceful, bullying hack.
    The tax on the job producers is purely symbolic and has no appreciable effect on anything meaningful.
    We gave 'Ghazi- gate' with four dead Americans, 2000 Hyundai loose south of the border, a slide toward Greece and this Narcissist just postures and poses.

    December 30, 2012 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  18. jon

    Let's just cut everybody's Social Security and Medicare programs IN HALF. That should make FOX News happy!

    December 30, 2012 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  19. SunnyD

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

    You're other way to say it. Go back to Fix News and be told what to be "enraged about...ugh you people tire the minds of thinkers.

    December 30, 2012 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  20. Phil

    Small minded congress.

    Small minded president

    Harry Reid runs the senate omg !!!

    December 30, 2012 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  21. mikeinmn

    As a middle income wage earner, I really don't see what's so bad about tax rates retuning to Clinton era rates. We were on the verge of paying down our deficit and the economy was booming? What am I missing?

    December 30, 2012 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  22. Nameprok3d

    Ok im from south carolina and any comment that comes from sen. Graham's mouth is pure hot garbage. For one we can't become Greece because A) Greece doesnt have a monetary system and B) politics wont allow it. But its odd that's coming from Graham because some of the policies he wants to implement, I.e. austerity policies, would push us closer to Greece and the U.K. faster than Obama. For example, raising tuitions and increase rates on loans while cutting education spending, never mind that South Carolina is 41st in education.

    December 30, 2012 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  23. 99 percent loose

    Hello people, who do u think is the employers of the 99 percent, exactly, they will cut jobs, who really wins, nobody, 1 percent employs, 99 percent, less jobs less tax money paid, way to go Obama

    December 30, 2012 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  24. JOregon

    The GOP has lost its identity.
    At one time they were the ones suggesting ideas similar to what the President has asked for.
    Nobody has asked to go back to the 90% tax on the rich of the Eisenhower era. Just modest increases in tax for the wealthy to turn back the immense loss of income caused by the Bush tax cuts.

    December 30, 2012 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  25. WB

    Hollowvictory?? Yeah, right!! Try TOTAL VICTORY!
    gwb was an abomination that the gop/tea party almost won't acknowledge except in their own company. They are getting exactly what they deserve because the reason they have been "fighting" so hard is that once the bush tax cuts are gone ... they are GONE!!!!. It will be more than a few generations before they can every pull that maneuver again if ever!!!

    EAT IT!! And know that your party is DEAD , DEAD, and DEAD!! ... Oh BTW ... did I mention DEAD?!?!?!

    December 30, 2012 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
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