Putting aside whether his ideas have merit, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) at least has a specific set of goals. He talked to CNN yesterday and presented his vision quite clearly: Graham is (a) outraged by proposed cuts to defense spending; (b) open to new government revenue but not through tax increases; and (c) convinced letting Bush-era tax rates expire is "stupid."
With that in mind, this exchange between Graham and Candy Crowley stood out for me.
CROWLEY: So just quickly, yes or no, if the Democrats stay where they are and if the president stays where he is, would you be willing to say, fine, if we can't reach a deal, taxes go up on everyone?GRAHAM: I'm willing to do the Bowles-Simpson plan. Not one person who has looked at this in a bipartisan way said you need to raise tax rates.
This fascinates me because I have a strong hunch Lindsey Graham supports a deficit-reduction plan he hasn't read.
The South Carolina senator may have forgotten, but there's a reason it's called the "Simpson-Bowles plan" instead of the "Simpson-Bowles commission plan" -- Republicans on the panel hated the recommendations and refused to sign on to the proposal. Why? Because among other things, it raised taxes -- even more than President Obama's debt-reduction plan -- and slashed defense spending. It also allowed all of the Bush-era tax breaks to expire on time at the end of 2012.
Indeed, Matt Yglesias asked a good question a while back: "Do Simpson-Bowles fans know what's in it?"
Lindsey Graham, that need not be a rhetorical question.
Simpson-Bowles raises taxes, allows Bush-era tax rates to expire, and cuts Pentagon funding -- three measures Graham considers unacceptable. Though Crowley didn't ask it, my follow-up question for the Republican senator is, "Really?"