The HillTube

Graham to Obama: How about 'manning up' on entitlement reform?

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) suggested President Obama should consider "manning up" to address the deficit and entitlement reform during an interview Monday. 

“You just got reelected. How about doing something big that is not liberal?” Graham said in an interview with Fox News. “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?”

ADVERTISEMENT
Graham was objecting to the president's repeated efforts to argue that Republicans must accept increased tax rates as part of any deficit deal. The South Carolina lawmaker argued that tax hikes on top income earners would have little effect on the country's overall debt problems.

“I would like [Obama] to be remembered as a president who saved Social Security and Medicare from bankruptcy by working with Republicans,” Graham said. “But he seems to have no inclination to be remembered for anything other than a guy who has a small view of our fiscal situation.”

Graham also suggested that the president's call to raise income tax rates on the wealthiest earners was "sort of a partisan political trophy" that Obama was trying to win. And he warned that there was "a hardening on the Republican side" not to agree to raise the debt ceiling without the promise of major entitlement reform.

The White House has contended that simply limiting deductions would not generate enough revenue unless it was done in a way that would eliminate popular marriage and mortgage deductions, or shift the tax burden to those making under $250,000.

Graham's comments come as talks between Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and President Obama appear to be intensifying. The pair met over the weekend, and aides for both leaders said Monday that they were continuing to communicate this week.