I seriously think it's quite possible Sen. Lindsey Graham has a pre-recorded Principled Outrage speech that he just moves his lips to as he goes on cable news shows (h/t Susie Madrak). Apparently, at least in this version of the speech, he's hoping that while he's voicing his Principled Outrage, nobody will notice that he's endangering our country's solvency with threats to hold the debt-ceiling hostage - as he comes after the earned benefits of everyday Americans.
Today's Principled Outrage came during a visit to Fox & Friends in which Graham discussed the Senate deal to come back from the fiscal cliff we've supposedly just fallen over. But rather than express relief at working out a deal (which the House has yet to vote on as I write this) and avoiding this supposed disaster, Graham stamped his foot and threatened President Obama with taking the debt ceiling hostage: “If you think you're gonna get the debt ceiling raised by coming out with a plan about an hour before it expires – these days are over.”
He urged the House to “make it better if you can” but to “save your powder for the debt-ceiling fight.”
Work with me and others never to raise the debt ceiling again unless we address why we're in so much debt, never do a debt ceiling increase until we save Social Security and Medicare from bankruptcy, and get this country off the road to becoming Greece. That's where we have leverage. That's where we should go to next.
Sound familiar? It should. It's similar to what Graham said just two days ago on Fox News Sunday and the week before on Meet The Press. But Steve Doocy either didn't notice or didn't care. He was focused on using Graham's words as an opening to attack President Obama. (Come to think of it, maybe Doocy has his own pre-recorded speech.)
...I can remember the current president of the United States, when he was a senator said, “You know, I can't vote to increase the debt ceiling.” Of course, he's changed his tune on that.
Graham picked up the ball and ran with it:
He's such a small minded guy in big times. The only reason we don't have a big deal or anything on spending is 'cause Barack Obama does a pep rally during the negotiations. He'll spend every dime you give him. This guy's a big government liberal. The only big idea he's ever embraced is big government, the stimulus, Obamacare. We're gonna make him a historic president whether he wants to be or not. Social Security and Medicare are going bankrupt. The debt ceiling is a chance to get those programs out of bankruptcy and to put the country on a path to sustainability.
...I've never seen a better chance for Republicans and Democrats to come together reform entitlements in a way to save these programs... The good news is we're one big deal away from dominating the 21st century... We have leverage at the debt ceiling to make this president face up to the fact that we're spending our way into oblivion and most Americans don't want to borrow any more money unless we get their kids out of debt and start saving programs that we're all gonna need down the road like Medicare and Social Security. This is the best chance, Steve, I've seen since I've been in Congress, to do something big. Mr. President, embrace big bi-partisan ideas for the first time in your life. You'll go down in history as a historic president. Don't be so small minded. Man up here. Be the president that the country wants you to be. Do something with me and others to save this country from becoming Greece. We're running out of time, Mr. President.
Of course, some people would say that implementing Obamacare was a big effing deal. But to Graham, the only way for President Obama to become “a man” is to cut Social Security and Medicare. And guess what? He has said that before, too. As C&L's David noted in his "man up" post, Graham's claims were determined to be overblown, earning him three Pinocchios from the Washington Post.
But all snarkiness aside, whether you like this deal or not (Dkos has a good roundup about it), it definitely gives the Republicans an opening to hold the debt ceiling hostage and to kick this malignant process down the road yet again. Whether the rest of the Republicans join Graham in his hostage taking remains to be seen. But Democrats and progressives need to call out this behavior loud and clear. Now.
Meet the new year. Same as the old year.