Looks like Lindsey Graham is continuing to pander to the extreme right wing of his base, which isn't too happy with him right now, with this rhetoric. Graham wants to hold raising the debt ceiling hostage even though he admits here that it would not be a good thing to have the United States default on our Treasury obligations. But he wants to use this "opportunity" to raise the retirement age and means test Social Security and Medicare Part D, or in other words, turn them into welfare systems.
And as I've said before, we all know what Republicans think of welfare. This is nothing more than using the debt ceiling as an excuse to destroy Social Security and our social safety nets in America. Although Graham later admitted that Republicans really didn't want to shut down the government, he apparently is more than willing to play political games with our entire economy in order to get their last chunk of flesh from the working class.
GREGORY: Let me break a few of those things down because it's important, the level of detail. Let me start with this. You talk about the budget. You talk about spending. How will you vote on the debt ceiling? Will you vote to raise it which is a vote that will come up in relatively short order?
GRAHAM: Well to not raise the debt ceiling could be a default of the United States on bond and treasury obligations. That would be very bad for the position of the United States in the world at large but this is an opportunity to make sure that government is changing its spending ways.
I will not vote for the debt ceiling increase until I see a plan in place that will deal with our long term debt obligations starting with Social Security, a real bipartisan effort to make sure that Social Security stays solvent, adjusting the age, looking at means tests for benefits. On the spending side I'm not going to vote for a debt ceiling increase unless we go back to 2008 spending levels, cutting discretionary spending...
GREGORY: Let me stop you right there Senator. That's a big condition just on Social Security alone. Do you think Republicans are prepared to follow you in two things you said; raise the retirement age and means test benefits for older Americans?
GRAHAM: I would suggest that if we're serious about taking America in a new direction and you're not putting entitlement reform on the table, you've missed a great opportunity to change the course of America's future. And the last election was about change, change that really will make us something other than Greece. I think Pat Toomey, Rand Paul and the other candidates that are new to the Congress that said during the campaign, everything's on the table when it comes to making America fiscally sound. Let's see if we can find bipartisan reforms in Social Security before we raise the debt limit.
GREGORY: Do you think Sen. McConnell, the leader of the Republicans is going to go along with that?
GRAHAM: I hope so. I know that Speaker Boehner is going to produce spending limitation bills every day, but the question for the Republican Party, for the tea party and the Democratic Party, beyond discretionary spending are we willing to look at the debt commission suggestions on entitlement reform and begin to enact those reforms before it's too late. I hope that this new Congress will do something the other Congresses have never done and that is seriously look at entitlement reform by adjusting the age and means testing benefits, including Medicare Part D.
Obama health care needs to be repealed and replaced but the Republican Party created Medicare Part D, a prescription drug entitlement that's already gotten out of control. I hope we'll put that on the table for reform.
GREGORY: Would you vote to actually scrap that, to take it away?
GRAHAM: I would vote to means test it. I would vote to make sure that people with my income level and your income level don't get their benefit... their prescription drug bill paid by the federal government because we can't afford it. I would vote to make sure that someone in my income level would have their Social Security benefits renegotiated if they're under 55, not in a Draconian way but changes we can make now for people 55 and under to avoid a fiscal collapse that's surely coming if we do nothing.
The president said in his speech he wants to work with us. This is a good opportunity to find common ground; entitlement reforms starting with Social Security.
Of course, Graham and the rest of the pearl-clutching Republican Party had no problem doubling the national debt under President Bush and raising the debt ceiling seven times, as Jon Perr points out.