The Washington Post

Lindsey Graham to Obama: How about ‘manning up’ on debt?

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) gave President Obama some advice Monday on how to forge a deal over the national debt. 

Graham said in an interview on Fox News that Republicans were not planning to budge on refusing to raise the debt ceiling without spending cuts, and he accused Obama of playing "small ball" by urging a tax-rate hike on top earners. 

Obama said last week he will not let Republicans use the threat of withholding a debt ceiling increase to force spending cuts. Federal borrowing authority runs out around February. Graham said Republicans would not give up on using the debt ceiling as a bargaining chip.  

"You just got reelected. How about doing something big that is not liberal?" Graham said, around 3:22 in the video above. "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?"  

Graham said the "big solution" would involve reforming entitlements. Letting tax cuts expire, he argued, would not raise enough revenue. 

"I would like [Obama] to be remembered for 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's claim in previous interviews that Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are all headed for bankruptcy was debunked by the Fact Checker

A growing chorus of Republicans is pushing for a deal that exchanges tax rate increases for entitlement reform. Obama has proposed $350 billion in health savings over the next decade. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has suggested $600 billion from health programs and an additional $200 billion from using a stingier measure of inflation, reducing cost-of-living increases for Social Security recipients.


Natalie Jennings is a senior producer for Washington Post Video.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments
The New Hampshire primary is Tuesday. Get caught up on the race.
The Post's Dan Balz says ...
This was supposed to be the strongest Republican presidential field in memory, but cracks are showing. At Saturday night's debate, Marco Rubio withered in the face of unyielding attacks from Chris Christie, drawing attention to the biggest question about his candidacy: Is he ready to be president? How much the debate will affect Rubio's standing Tuesday is anybody's guess. But even if he does well, the question about his readiness to serve as president and to go up against Clinton, if she is the Democratic nominee, will linger.
Play Video
New Hampshire polling averages
Donald Trump holds a commanding lead in the next state to vote, but Marco Rubio has recently seen a jump in his support, according to polls.
New Hampshire polling averages
A victory in New Hampshire revitalized Hillary Clinton's demoralized campaign in 2008. But this time, she's trailing Bernie Sanders, from neighboring Vermont. She left the state Sunday to go to Flint, Mich., where a cost-saving decision led to poisonous levels of lead in the water of the poor, heavily black, rust-belt city. 
55% 40%
Play Video
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
State of the race

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.