Political Animal


July 17, 2011 10:40 AM Lindsey Graham: ‘We’re becoming Greece’

By Steve Benen

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) appeared on CNN this morning, pushing the “Cut, Cap and Balance” approach to debt reduction, the most right-wing approach possible. White House budget director Jack Lew had already explained that the plan would require brutal reductions to Medicare and Social Security, deeper than even Paul Ryan’s radical budget plan.

Graham, whom the media establishment likes to pretend is a moderate, said he doesn’t care.

Graham, in turn, said that the real threat to the nation is the burden of unsustainable debt.

“What is calamitous is the path we’re on as a nation,” he said. “We’re becoming Greece.”

New rule: every time a confused Republican lawmakers compare the United States’ fiscal conditions to that of Greece, an angel loses its wings.

Look, the very idea is just crazy. The U.S. has extremely low interest rates and foreign investor are happy to loan us money; Greece has extremely high interest rates and no one is eager to loan the country money. The U.S. has our own currency; Greece has the Euro. We have a great credit rating (for now); Greece has an awful credit rating. We have a manageable debt; Greece has a debt crisis. We’re a large country with an enormous economy; Greece is a small country with a small economy. We have one of the world’s most stable systems of government (at least until six months ago); Greece’s government structure is a little shaky.

For an elected American senator — and media darling — to tell a national television audience that the United States is “becoming Greece” is a clear signal: Lindsey Graham is not to be taken seriously on these issues.

If Graham sincerely believes his own rhetoric, he has no idea what he’s talking about. If Graham is just playing some kind of cynical game, he’s a hack.

And just as an aside, it’s awfully amusing to hear Republicans whine incessantly for weeks about “scare tactics,” only to run to the cameras to cry that the United States is turning into Greece. If GOP officials want to engage in demagoguery, they shouldn’t complain about demagoguery. And if they are going to go down this road, Republicans should at least try not to lie so shamelessly.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • hell's littlest angel on July 17, 2011 10:42 AM:

    Lindsey is eagerly looking forward to the nude wrestling.

  • Todd for VT House on July 17, 2011 10:45 AM:

    Gregg compared us to Greece last year, and McConnell earlier this year. They keep trying.

  • mellowjohn on July 17, 2011 10:53 AM:

    "Lindsey Graham is not to be taken seriously on these issues."

    lindsey light-in-the-loafers is not to be taken seriously on ANY issue.

    p.s. if republicans couldn't "lie shamelessly" they wouldn't have anything to say.

  • stormskies on July 17, 2011 10:53 AM:

    Miss Graham is nothing more than a shunned drag queen ... as such she keeps shrieking away in a state of delusional hysteria .........

  • tolkien on July 17, 2011 11:00 AM:

    There is at least one way in which we are like Greece. Both countries have governments which have made and are making financial decisions for their country designed to increase the fortunes of wealthy people and to the detriment of the vast majority of their own citizens.

    Greece did this in being willing to even try to pay off the debts they had to bankster types instead of just going like Iceland, saying "screw you, can't get blood from a stone", and just defaulting. By the way, Iceland is doing great now, economically. Turns out default really doesn't screw you too bad if your country is reasonably productive. Meanwhile, Greece is making sure to shut down all government services and practicing horrible austerity causing its economy to collapse further in a vain attempt to squeeze a few more euros out while actually decreasing the money they have available to them.

    The US, meanwhile, is making very damn sure that wealthy people get bailed out and pay zero price for tanking the global economy, while being in discussions about how they can destroy our last and best social programs that help the poor and middle classes in order to continue lowering taxes (in such a way that the wealthy are the primary beneficiaries of such lowered taxes). This, all under the guise of supposed "deficit" mania.

    Oh yeah, I feel it's safe to say the US and Greek economies DO have something in common. Both of these governments are apparently for the rich, by the rich, and to the rich, at the expense of everyone else in the whole damn country. Class war? Yeah, this is class war, but it's being waged entirely by the rich against everyone else, and most people are kept in the dark about it.

  • JM91 on July 17, 2011 11:02 AM:

    Yes indeed, in one very significant respect we ARE becoming Greece--namely, by rapidly developing a non-functional political system, thanks to the efforts of the Teapublicans and their fellow travellers like Graham and McCain.

    We now have a Congress virtually unable to make any intelligent decisions in times of economic crisis, in thrall to primitive and vicious fundamentalist ideologies (religious, economic, and political). In particlar, Senate rules now hamstring "the world's greatest deliberative body" so that reactionary windbags (like Graham's colleague DeMint) can and do exercise a virtual liberum veto over its proceedings.

    So yes, our political system has become virtually Greek-like in its corruption and incompetence. If the nation defaults, it will be for that reason, and the United States can declare itself a failed nation.

    Thanks, Repugs.

  • jjm on July 17, 2011 11:02 AM:

    It galls me that the media is allowing the GOP to spread its outright lies.

    Bachmann calling Obama out for his 'choots-pah' (yes she cannot pronounce it) for telling us that the debt ceiling has to be raised to avoid default (she says for the whole world to hear, that there's plenty of money in the Treasury to pay all our bills).

    No news organizations push back or offer the facts when these liars lie.

    I guess they'll pass their go nowhere bba, then have to raise the ceiling.

  • SYSPROG on July 17, 2011 11:06 AM:

    This is such crap. Greece is the size of one of our states. No Lindsey, we are NOT 'becoming Greece'. If you don't understand basic economic theory then STFU. And MEDIA? Stop booking MORONS!

  • Bob M on July 17, 2011 11:08 AM:

    The United States deserves better than the Republican party. The only reason to listen to them is to stop their lies from spreading.

  • PaulW on July 17, 2011 11:13 AM:

    I'm willing to entertain the possibility we might become Argentina. But definitely not Greece.

    BTW, while everyone has some money left, buy my ebooks!!!

  • Kathryn on July 17, 2011 11:13 AM:

    Can't watch Sunday shows anymore, was there any pushback at all when Lindsey made Greece claim? Steve's points about low interest rates, ease in borrowing money, own currency, great credit rating, manageable debt, enormous economy....facts should be known by interviewer. Any attempt to mention one or two of those "differences" between U.S. and Greece. I didn't watch but I know the answer, NO.

    Suggest reading David Ignatius Sunday oped in Washington Post "The Too Quiet President", seems fair to me. Basically he faults Pres. Obama for not being forceful enough with his very well reasoned approaches to the issues he's faced with , domestic and foreign policy. Pres. Obama is closer to right on most issues then most, but his laid back reticent style is not serving him well. Still like to believe that as the smartest guy in the room he's got all this in hand, but time is running out.

  • c u n d gulag on July 17, 2011 11:14 AM:

    They're playing the 'Deliverence' tune just for you, so, go on home, and 'Squeel, like a hob, Boy'

    And there's nothing wrong with that - unless you don't come out of the closet to do it.

  • c u n d gulag on July 17, 2011 11:17 AM:

    'Squeel like a hog, Boy!'

    I was more worried about CAPTCHA than my own spelling.

  • ack ack ack on July 17, 2011 11:17 AM:

    Steve, you should take the angle that advocating such austerity - believing the debt is unsustainable - is essentially not believing in America's Greatness. It has the added bonus of being true.

  • bob h on July 17, 2011 11:17 AM:

    Japan has twice the per capital debt we do, I believe, and yet borrows at near zero interest. Is Japan turning into Greece, as well, Miss Lindsey?

  • Toon Moene on July 17, 2011 11:18 AM:

    Well, he's absolutely right - the US of A is becoming Greece, in about 16 days.

    I mean - the GOP has it in its own hands to default on the national debt, so this is an easy forecast; one that you yourself can cause to come true.

  • TCinLA on July 17, 2011 11:25 AM:

    So much for Graham being one of the Republicans who "gets is" that this wasn't the time and place for this fight.

    And further proof that South Carolina, the capital of American treason since 1715, should have been given the treatment Rome gave Carthage when we had the chance back in 1865.

  • JW on July 17, 2011 11:25 AM:

    Is it an unreasonable expectation that the president drop the pretense that he is dealing with an honorable opposition? The democratic rank and file that elected him certainly knows better (as I suspect does a significant percentage of registered republicans). It's insulting that he continues to pretend otherwise. The simple truth should be addressed in simple terms. God knows, he's got the mouth on him to do it.

  • FRP on July 17, 2011 11:40 AM:

    Being stern conservative , by inclination , disposition , and darn it because I can't suffer and have it done in cloistered anonymity , let me say this about that .
    As a rule of thumb I can think of no safer investment than , If you have to explain a joke , (I give you this for that) , it tis no funny .
    As a deeply committed conservative I have grudgingly given into outlandish exceptions , provided they prove the rule .
    Torture is good , small government is good unless it isn't , equality is a singular case of oxymoron , I could go on , I just want to darlings , sigh .
    The earnest explanations of a rather dismal joke presented here with the only reward some abstruse heavenly blend of coffee that doesn't precede its retail debut emerging from anything resembling digestion , or something less material has again proven the rule by its lonely exception .
    As to why conservatives are routinely called humorless , or at times ... even worse , I suggest with this foray in to the tragic art of comedy reassessment is overdue .
    Sincerely , FRP

  • bdop4 on July 17, 2011 11:52 AM:

    I'm sure there was no follow-up to that statement, either.

    CNN is not much better than Faux News.

  • N.Wells on July 17, 2011 12:17 PM:

    Graham would have been correct if he had explained a little more fully that his party is doing its darnedest to ensure that the US becomes Greece.

  • yellowdog on July 17, 2011 12:56 PM:

    Another Sunday, another free media appearance for right-wing chatter.

    One thing about both Greece and South Carolina: They both generate major economic activity from ports. In the current crisis, Greece is selling off its stake in the country's ports to bring down the debt. And South Carolina? Lindsey Graham pitched a hissy-fit earlier this year when the port of Charleston did not get federal funding for a deepening project. He was happy to block a few judicial nominations until he got his way. As he put it: “If you’re a Republican and you want to create jobs, then you need to invest in infrastructure that will allow us to create jobs."

    Let that quote percolate in your head a little bit. Georgia Republicans have said much the same thing about funding for the port of Savannah. Public funding of these projects is a clear job-generator...

    Yet in a few days, all funding for both projects will be stopped--killing the positive economic impact the ports have in the region. Wonder if anybody has asked Graham what the impact of default will be on his own state?

  • Jeff T on July 17, 2011 1:05 PM:

    Clearly, Lindsey's main (if implicit) point is about anal sex.

  • mcc on July 17, 2011 1:54 PM:

    It's not crazy, it's very sane lying. The right wing is invested in trying to make people believe the economic crisis is caused by our deficit problem rather than the other way around. And if you listen to their followers, they're all actually believing it.

    The right wing needs to make absolutely sure that all of their followers are living in an alternate reality that bears no resemblance to our own. If the republicans and democrats accepted the same basic facts of the debate, then compromise might be possible. That must be prevented at all costs.

  • ameshall on July 17, 2011 1:55 PM:

    Oh, don't worry. I'm sure the DNC was quick to issue a press release to all media outlets setting the record straight and blasting Graham for his reckless disregard of the facts. The DNC must also have made it clear that Graham and his GOP counterparts are deliberately trying to tank the American economy so his party can gain an advantage in the next election. And I'm nearly certain that the DNC stayed on message reminding the American people that the debt ceiling applies to debt Congress has already incurred, specifically George Bush's debt for two wars and Medicare Part D. That happened, right? No? Surprising. The crack messaging team at the DNC is usually right on it.

  • Cha on July 17, 2011 2:51 PM:

    I haven't watched Sunday or any day gopropaganda/corporatemediawhoredom crap since Nov 2002. Do they have on more stupid repubs to push their idiotic lines so the country will fall along with the world economy. Or to showcase how rabid batshit crazy they are?

    What if the US corporatemedia threw a propaganda party and nobody came but the stupid who support miss choots-pa herself?

  • Trollop on July 17, 2011 5:02 PM:

    Lindsay wishes he was getting greek, that's about that.

  • Sparko on July 17, 2011 6:50 PM:

    Since we are the wealthiest nation on earth, I suppose we should confiscate the wealth of Senators and business leaders before it is too late. Good call, Graham. Is that a Brooks Brothers suit and Greek dress shoes?

  • Doug on July 17, 2011 8:07 PM:

    "Is it an unreasonable expectation that the President drop the pretence that he is dealing with an honorable opposition?" JW @ 11:25 AM.

    Until after the Democratic convention in 2012, Mr. Obama is President of the entire country and is expected to act as such. After the Democratic Convention, Mr. Obama (note the change in honorific) is permitted to become a partisan candidate. That permission is immediately revoked on the Wednesday after the November 2012 elections, when he again becomes President of the entire country.
    It's one of the drawbacks of having the Head of State, head of government AND the titular head of a political party concentrated in one person. I think President Obama cn handle, though.

  • Jack Hammer on July 17, 2011 11:07 PM:

    Am I dreaming or did Republicans co-opt the austerity mumbo jumbo shortly after it became a big issue in Europe?

  • Bonnie on July 17, 2011 11:37 PM:

    Someone should have jumped on the "I don't care" phrase. It should be repeated indignantly, "You DON'T care, you DON'T care, you DON't care!" And, we should keep repeating it now until election time: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) doesn't care. He doesn't care about America, he doesn't care about Americans, he doesn't care. Of course, our press corps would probably fail to cover that.