Graham on fiscal cliff: Obama wins 'hollow' political victory
December 30th, 2012
12:38 PM ET
10 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."

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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. Rudy NYC

    Blue Baboon wrote:

    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.
    No. The truth is quite the opposite actually. The GOP knows that Pres. Obama was re-elected. Now they're trying to anger their base into supporting four more years of obstructionism.

    December 31, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  2. cedaly1968

    For the sake of the Republican party and future fiscal conservatism, the party should elect real leaders beyond Graham and Boehner and McConnell to bring in fresh thinking, less acrimony and bitterness and a broader inclusion and definition of "conservatism." The more people like Graham and Boehner keep blaming the president the worse they look. President Obama could do more, but he has offered several plans, negotiated down from $1.6 trillion with likely a goal of $1.2-$1.4 trillion and additional spending cuts of a couple of trillion over 10 years. This bickering with the President and blaming him make them look small – don't they get that?

    December 31, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  3. live4grace

    The comparison with Greece is a comparison of two nations in debt. Greece never dealt with it and that's how the nation fell into the state it's in now. Greece is in austerity, paying off its debt to Germany and other "saver" nations (versus "debtor"). Our creditor nations are already defined – China, for one. It is unquestionably where we're going if we don't deal with the deficit. I disagree Obama or the GOP wins anything here; if the nation is made up of adults then we have a chance to learn something before our children do. But that remains to be seen.

    December 31, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  4. unknown11

    I have to agree with Grahhhhhm on this one. The president has never been interrested in anything that deviates from his view of the world, and of himself. It is all about him. Remember the first few years, where the economy was in the crapper, but Obama was all about health care and giving away money to his supporters. He has never let the reality that the country faces sway him from his fight to prove himself to have the biggest swinging ...

    But, people like that. It is what they voted in for 4 more years.

    December 31, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  5. Thomas

    Make Obama a one term President !

    December 31, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  6. rs

    It is interesting that Graham says that the President isn't seeking real solutions to the debt and deficit issues when it is his own party that keeps coming up with more tax cuts that drive up the deficit. The Republicans at least since Reagan simply haven't cared about budgets or deficits- they only care about the rich, and they are willing to put our nation BACK into recession again to do just that.

    Fine- let the rich vote for their Republican shills. We may have the most millionaires and billionaires than at any time in our history, but there aren't enough of them to give any GOP candidate a plurality if the vote comes down to who really works for Americans, or the economy.

    December 31, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  7. Jed Clampett

    The only thing President Obama won was his election in November. What is occurring right now is doing what is best for our nation. All the Grover-publicans think about is winning/losing. They don't care one bit about average Americans.

    Lindsay Graham's statement is simply GOPathetic.

    December 31, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  8. Dave

    Graham's comment, "Hats off to the president – he won," is what is WRONG about Congress...they see everything as a win or a loss. Everyone's "keeping score" and trying to see who gets more check marks in whatever column. How about we ALL WIN! Maybe we all don't get everything that we hoped for, but compromise is the key to a democracy.

    December 31, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  9. GI Joe

    $250,000 may be middle class to a lot of you, but where I live, and a lot of other places $15,000 to 20,000 is really poor. That's all over the country, yet the republicans are wanting to make cuts for the poor and give more to the $250,000 and up. Shame Shame Shame.

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

    Why can't people understand that we have a spending problem? If we do not reduce the spending all the tax increases in the world will not help. You cannot tax people enough to take care of all the spending our government creates. I am all for tax increases, that is not a problem, but there must be enough cuts to go along with it to keep our country from slipping into a place we will never recover from. It must be done for our children and grandchildren. Neither Obama or the Republicans seem to understand. The type of leaders we are electing is sad. We need to be very careful going forward of who we elect to the Senate, the House, and certainly as our President. We have really made a mess of things with the current crop!

    December 31, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
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