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Graham says GOP gave 'political gift' to Obama

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday said that the effort to defund ObamaCare in the run up to the government shutdown was “a political gift" to President Obama.

He said that the failed tactic from Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate hurt the party and should cause those legislators to “do some soul searching."

“I think we’ve learned that this was a political gift to the president by the Republican Party at a time when he needed it most,” Graham said on CBS’s “Face the Nation." “The tactic of defunding the government unless he repealed his signature issue was as poorly designed as ObamaCare itself, almost.”

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Instead of winning concessions from the administration, he said, the fight actually “hurt us” and distracted the public from flaws in the rollout of a website designed to help people find insurance.


Graham also chided Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who met with House lawmakers and was the most visible supporter of the plan to oppose funding the government if ObamaCare was included.

“I think the tactical choice that he embraced hurt our party,” he said.

Graham added that Cruz is “a smart guy,” and that ultimately the power to shut down the government lay with Republicans in the House, who embraced Cruz’s strategy.

He called for House Republicans to follow Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who has indicated that he will change his strategy ahead of the next fiscal fight, scheduled for early 2014.

“We’ve got a unique opportunity here after this debacle called the shutdown to reenergize the Congress and maybe get an understanding” on long-term budget issues, Graham said.

That would include investment in infrastructure to put people back to work, changes to entitlement programs like Medicare and tax reform that would increase revenues by “flattening out the tax code.” Those changes were necessary, he said, to end the across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration.

Appearing with Graham on the show on Sunday, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) agreed that Congress needs to “show we can govern” by passing a spending bill that reformed both entitlements and the tax code.

Achieving such a bargain, Warner said, would “do more for job creation than any other program we’ve talked about."

Both senators are members of the budget conference committee tasked with hammering out a long-term budget deal in coming months.