Sen. Graham in Columbia: will not “cave” on debt ceiling debate

01/08/2013 4:46 PM

01/08/2013 5:02 PM

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-Seneca, says he will not vote to raise the nation’s debt ceiling without a plan for cutting spending.

Not even automatic defense cuts, set to take effect March 1, will force the hand of the pro-military Republican, Graham said at a news conference Tuesday at Colonial Printing on Huger St.

“(T)here are people in Washington who believe that a guy like Lindsey Graham who is very pro-defense will basically cave” to borrowing more to save defense from automatic cuts, Graham said.

Graham has said that the $1.2 trillion in cuts to domestic and defense spending over the next decade, set into motion when a supercommittee of U.S. House and Senate leaders couldn't decide where to cut the budget, would be “devastating” to South Carolina's military.

But recently Graham said he would favor the cuts to raising the debt ceiling without a plan to cut spending.

“As much as I hate what will happen to the defense department, the most irresponsible thing we could to continue to borrow money without a plan to get out of debt.”

Graham said replacing defense cuts with “a better mix” of reductions, passing a budget designed to get out of debt, and raising the debt ceiling are all necessary next steps.

Increasing the Medicare eligibility age to 67, asking wealthier people to pay more for their benefits, and changing the way inflation is used to calculate benefits are solutions with some bipartisan support, Graham said. Graham also wants to find a dollar in cuts for every additional dollar borrowed as a condition of his supporting a debt increase.

Graham said the president would “not get a blank check” from him to raise the debt ceiling.

A solution “begins with a budget,” something the Senate has not passed in three years, Graham, who sits on the Senate Budget Committee, pointed out.

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