Both of South Carolina’s senators voted against the compromise debt-limit agreement negotiated between congressional Republicans and Democrats. The measure passed the Senate 74-26 on Tuesday.
Senator Lindsey Graham said on MSNBC Tuesday he could not in good conscience support the deal. “The only thing Congress is capable of is putting out a fire,” he said. “We had a debt ceiling limit fire, we put it out. That’s good news. (House Speaker John) Boehner did well with his conference; (Senate Minority Leader Mitch) McConnell did well with his. (Senate Majority Leader)Harry (Reid) did well. But we haven’t moved the needle much. We’re going to add $7 trillion in debt. The government still grows and we put the Defense Department at unnecessary risk. So that’s why I voted no.”
He also did not like that the increase would cover the nation’s debt until January 2013. “The average length of time we’ve extended the debt ceiling since 1940 was nine months,” Graham said, “I would like to have seen it done the way it has been done in the past. What I would have done as a Republican is say, ‘Mr. President, we’ll give you the average time, nine months. We’ll pay for it dollar for dollar, and we’ll continue this debate.’” Graham added, “President Obama’s sleeping pretty good last night and tonight because he now has a clear path to January 2013 where we won’t have to deal with this anymore. So in that regard, he was a winner.”
When it comes to the nation’s current debt situation, Graham says one party cannot blame the other. “How do you get in $14.3 trillion worth of debt?” he asks. “Both parties have to work together to screw the government up that bad. You can’t be this far in debt doing it all by yourself. So if one party’s willing to break that cycle, that’s a good thing.”
Graham feels the Tea Party has had some positive effect, but disagrees with them on cuts that would hit the nation’s defense. “The Tea Party has brought a lot of energy to this whole debate about paying for things and looking at the government as being out of control,” he said, “I’m with the Tea Party on spending, but there’s elements of the Tea Party that feel it’s okay to cut a trillion dollars out of the Defense budget over the next decade. I will not be with them there.”
Graham supported Cut, Cap and Balance and says he will continue to work for passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution.