Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham says President Barack Obama is a "small ball guy" but it's time for him to start "manning up" on cuts to earned benefits like Medicare and Social Security.
Speaking to Fox News host Martha MacCallum on Monday, Graham suggested that Republicans should not agree to tax rate hikes on the rich and should hold a debt ceiling increase hostage until Democrats agreed to "entitlement reform."
"Here's where the president is going to have a rude awakening," the senior senator from South Carolina opined. "In February or March, you have to raise the debt ceiling and I can tell you this, there's a hardening on the Republican side. We're not going to raise the debt ceiling, we're not going to let Obama borrow any more money or any American Congress borrow any more money until we fix this country from becoming Greece. And that requires significant entitlement reform to save Social Security and Medicare from bankruptcy."
MacCallum noted that Obama told business leaders last week that he would not "play that game" with Republicans because "we’ve got to break that habit" of allowing them to use the debt ceiling in budget negotiations.
"Yes, we will play that game, Mr. President, because this is not a game," Graham insisted. "The game you're playing is small ball. You're talking about raising rates on the top 2 percent that would run the government for 11 days. You just got re-elected. How about doing something big that's not liberal? How about doing something big that really is bipartisan? Every big idea he has is a liberal idea that drowns us in debt."
"How about manning up here, Mr. President, and use your mandate to bring this country together to stop us from becoming Greece?" he continued. "So when it comes debt ceiling time, Mr. President, you're going to have a Republican Party that's going to make sure we save Medicare and Social Security from bankruptcy and we save this country from becoming Greece."
Graham concluded: "He's a small ball guy. He's afraid of his own party."
A Washington Post fact check on Monday determined that Graham's assertion that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid would go "bankrupt" was overblown because "the facts do not justify such rhetoric."
"In this case we are going to bump Graham up to Three Pinocchios," the Post's Glenn Kessler wrote. "Not only did he repeat the error of treating all of Medicare as one entity, but he did the same with Social Security. Moreover, his reference to Medicaid makes little sense, even if one has very expansive definitions of the words 'bankruptcy' and 'imminent.'"
(h/t: Think Progress)