"If this is going to be bipartisanship, the country's screwed." Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said this morning, arguing that Republicans were left out of negotiations over the economic stimulus bill.
"I know bipartisanship when I see it. I've participated in it. I've gone back home and gotten primary opponents because I wanted to be bipartisan. There's nothing about this process that's been bipartisanship. This is not 'change we can believe in' ... We blew it when it came to coming together here," Graham, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, said in an appearance on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."
The bill, which President Barack Obama is expected to sign into law on Tuesday, passed without a single Republican vote in the House and gained only three GOP votes in the Senate.
But Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who joined Graham on a bipartisan panel to debate the stimulus, argued that Democrats made concessions to please Republicans.
"We don't know what more to do in terms of bipartisanship," he said. "Let's just look at the Senate. The two biggest amendments that we accepted were Republican amendments... They still voted against the bill."
In response Graham noted that, in lieu of the $800 billion package that passed in the Senate, Republicans had supported a $440 billion plan "that cut taxes, had infrastructure spending and helped people who were out of work. We blew it when it came to coming together here."
Graham's own Governor, Mark Sanford, is suggesting he may not take the roughly $8 billion in stimulus funding for South Carolina.
"For every job the bill creates, American taxpayers will spend $223,000. If we add the cost of this bill to the previous efforts of the federal government to deal with the financial crisis, the American taxpayer is on the hook for $9.7 trillion… If the stimulus bill were a country, it would be the 15th-largest country in the world," Sanford wrote in The State this morning.
Graham, however, said Sanford should take the funding: "I think it would be smart for South Carolina to take the money because South Carolina's going to have to pay the money back. The average taxpayer's gets to get $8 of tax relief, but their children get $1-trillion of debt."
On the House side of the debate Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., supported Graham's argument. "Not one Republican was allowed to take part in the process in the House," said King, a member of the Financial Services Committee.
But Rep. Maxine Water, D-Calif., disagreed. "That is not the truth," she said. "As a matter of fact, we should focus on, when you had the opportunity to participate, why not do what those three moderate Republicans did? Step up to the plate; offer your amendments. You know, we took all of their amendments."
Waters, also a member of the Financial Services Committee, went further arguing that more money was needed to stimulate the economy.
"Many well-known economists say that this should be a trillion-dollar bailout bill, that we need to put more into our economy," she said.