Graham on Bipartisanship: ‘The Country’s Screwed’

By Jennifer Parker

Feb 15, 2009 10:34am

Our "This Week" panel this morning got into a rousing debate over the stimulus bill, with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, S.C. and Rep. Peter King, N.Y., arguing the GOP was left out of the process.

"If I may say, if this is going to be bipartisanship, the country’s screwed," Graham said.

"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 bipartisan. This is not ‘change we can believe in.’ You rammed it through the House. You started out with the idea of, ‘we won, we write the bill.’ The mark-up, Chuck, in the Senate took an hour and 40 minutes. What the AMT got to do with creating jobs?" Graham said to Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, N.Y.

Rather than the $800-billion stimulus package that passed through the Senate, Graham said Republicans supported a $440-billion stimulus package that cut taxes and had infrastructure spending and help for the unemployed.

However Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, Calif., argued more money was needed to stimulate the economy, and defended the spending in the bill.

"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.

"We have children going to   schools in deplorable conditions, and so we wanted more money in   school construction. We thought, not only does that create jobs, it’s   an investment in the future.   And so those kinds of programs we really, really wanted to fight   for. As it turns out, we have through the conference committee   accepted the amendments from those Republicans who were willing to   step up to the bat and at least do something for the people of this   country. And so we lost on some of it, but it’s a big win for all families and all Americans," Waters said.

I also asked Graham if he agrees with South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford who has said he may refuse the stimulus money for his state.

"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.

But Graham said Sanford should take the money.

"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," he said.

–George Stephanopoulos

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