Apr 01 2009

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement after the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Peter Orszag provided clarification on how the federal government will provide funding to states from the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund.

Graham had written to OMB on March 18 seeking clarification on whether the state legislature could request the $700 million in education funding if the governor refused to do so.  He also raised 10th Amendment constitutional concerns regarding the legal authority to bypass the governor of a state.

In their response, OMB made clear the governor – not the state legislature -- has the sole authority to submit an application for State Fiscal Stabilization funding:

“…for a State to access its allocation of the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, the Governor must submit an application to the Secretary of Education, and there currently is no provision in the Recovery Act for a State legislature to make such an application in lieu of the Governor for a State’s allocation of the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund.”

Graham said:

“OMB’s opinion is in line with what I believe to be the correct interpretation of the law.  I appreciate their response as it will provide clarity and guidance to the state legislature and governor as they continue working on the state budget. 

“I voted against the stimulus package because it was too large, unfocused, created too much debt and too few jobs.  However, the choice for South Carolina now is whether to accept the stabilization funding or see the money go to another state. 

“We can refuse to accept it, but we cannot refuse to pay it back.  Based on that dilemma, I believe it is in South Carolina’s best interests to apply for these funds.  They will do some good. 

“The letter did not address my constitutional concerns which I think are real and will not be fixed by a mere change in the statute.  Regardless of one’s opinion about the provision’s constitutionality, the Congress will not be able to fix this problem by Friday and allow the state legislature to apply for the funding.  Also, it is unlikely other states would want to pass a legislative fix that would assist South Carolina.  By doing nothing, other states increase the chances they will receive a portion of the funding originally directed to our state. 

“The Governor has legitimate concerns about our state’s long-term debt and the burden we are passing along to future generations.  The legislature has equally legitimate concerns about the impact the deep recession is having on our state, which is second in the nation in unemployment, and how further budget cuts will affect education. 

“Time is of the essence and I am hopeful the governor and legislature can find a compromise which addresses the needs of both current and future generations of South Carolinians.  It is my hope a win-win solution which addresses our state’s needs today while building a solid foundation for future generations can be achieved.”

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Click here for a copy of OMB Director Peter Orszag's letter.

Mar 27 2009

WASHINGTON U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement in response to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan planning to reprogram education funding from the stimulus legislation even if the Governor and state legislature do not request the funds.  

Graham said:

"I was shocked by the statements made by the Secretary of Education that he would find a way to spend the $700 million in South Carolina regardless of the requirements of the statute or whether the state requested the funding.

"I appreciate and share his concern for the children of South Carolina. However, federal officials cannot obligate money based on a perceived moral obligation. We are a nation of laws, not individual whims. I cannot think of a more dangerous precedent to be set than allowing an unelected Cabinet Secretary, a federal bureaucrat, to hand out government funds based upon their feelings and not the law.

"The Secretary’s pushing forward with this radical line of thinking would destroy the concept of the Rule of Law, the role of elected officials, and the principles of federalism which have served our nation well for over 200 years. I encourage the Obama Administration to immediately reject this approach. I hope these comments will be written off as just mindless chatter and not a radical new approach to the role and power of the federal government.

"I voted against the stimulus package because it was too large and created too much government. However, I do believe it is in South Carolina’s best interests for the Governor to accept the funding as it will do some good. If South Carolina does not accept the funding, it will go to another state and future generations of South Carolinian will still be obligated to pay it back.

"Additionally, in light of today’s unemployment figures and recent budget projections it will be very difficult for the General Assembly to meet all our state’s obligations. This is clearly a rainy day for South Carolina and these funds can be helpful in our current budget situation.

"Finally, the legal process through which these funds are administered is very important. The process and procedures used will be around long after these funds are spent."

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Mar 26 2009

WASHINGTON U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement after voting against the Senate Democratic budget proposal. The proposal was passed through the Senate Budget Committee yesterday by a vote of 13-10.

"Former President Bush and the Republican Congress were rightfully criticized for spending too much. But compared to this budget, George Bush looks like Scrooge.

"The Senate Democratic budget, which by OMB Director Peter Orszag’s own estimate is 98 percent identical to President Obama’s proposal, missed the mark. It is irresponsible. The Democratic budget imposes $80,000 of debt on every American family by 2011. It raises taxes at a time when we are trying to get our economy back on track. And we increase social spending exponentially and decrease military spending at a time when the world is more dangerous, not less.

"The Republican Party did not live up to expectations when it came to spending taxpayer dollars. Americans were rightfully disappointed in our actions. But yesterday we witnessed the Democratic budget taking our national debt to new, unsustainable levels.

"The Democratic budget proposal makes it virtually impossible for future generations to enjoy the same standard of living as their parents and grandparents. The American people want change but I fear the Senate Democratic and President Obama budget is change our nation simply cannot afford."

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Mar 24 2009

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), who serves on the Senate Budget Committee and Senate Armed Services Committee, criticized President Obama’s proposed budget and its affect on national security.  On Friday, Graham expressed concern about the Obama budget after a Congressional Budge Office analysis of the legislation showed it creating trillion dollar yearly deficits.

“I think the first job of any federal politician, particularly the President as Commander in Chief, is to secure the nation, “said Graham.  “This is not the time to go cheap on defense. The intelligence reports we receive show a growing threat from Iran, new engagements in Afghanistan; and a mission in Iraq that is not yet complete.  There is no peace dividend to be had until there is peace. 

Graham noted that over the last 20 years the average spending on national defense, as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been about 4 percent.  When the supplemental spending bills covering operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are added it goes to about 4.5 percent this year.

The Obama budget proposes a reduction in defense spending so that by 2019 our nation only spends 3 percent of GDP on defense.

“When you try to figure out where a political leader really stands -- rhetoric versus reality -- one of the documents I would look at is the budget,” said Graham.  “If you asked a politician to write a budget, it would tell you a lot about what that political leader thought about where the country was and what priorities they would pursue.  Unfortunately, in the Obama budget, I think they've taken a very reckless view of national defense.”

“The interest on the national debt in 2019 will be $806 billion,” said Graham.  “Spending on national defense will be $720 billion.  Ten years from now, under this budget, we're going to spend more on interest on our national debt than we will be on our entire Defense Department.

“I hope the American people will understand that in this guns and butter debate that we've had for a long time in this country, that this budget is really heavy on butter and short on guns,” concluded Graham.

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Mar 20 2009

WASHINGTON U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), a member of the Senate Budget Committee, today made this statement on the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of President Obama’s budget proposal.

"The Obama Administration has embarked on a spending spree that will add tremendously to our long-term national debt. We began this presidency deep in debt and the budget course charted by the Obama Administration substantially adds to it. No amount of economic growth will be able to overcome the spending spree President Obama proposes.

"Economic and budgetary projections over a ten year period are always difficult. However, based upon the spending path we find ourselves on, it is not difficult to figure out where we will end up. The CBO report makes clear we are facing $1 trillion annual deficits as far as the eye can see. This is a staggering and unsustainable amount of debt to pass along.

"In its budget submission to Congress, the Obama Administration used optimistic economic projections. These projections were more politically than economically driven. The Obama Administration underestimated the unemployment problems our nation currently faces and overestimated how quickly the economy is likely to grow. The CBO analysis is more in line with reality.

"The American people want change but I fear President Obama’s budget proposes change our nation simply cannot afford."

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Mar 18 2009

WASHINGTON –U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today held a press conference to discuss South Carolina’s portion of the economic stimulus funds and a new analysis from the Congressional Research Service on the authority of the state legislature to request such funds.

Click here for a copy of the CRS report.

Click here for a copy of Senator Graham's letter to the OMB Director.

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Mar 16 2009

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement in response to AIG paying bonuses to employees in its Financial Products (AIGFP) division. AIGFP was responsible for billions of dollars in losses involving credit default swaps and other derivatives.

 

“Like most Americans I am very upset these AIG employees are in line for multi-million dollar bonuses when the company has received almost $200 billion dollars in bailout money and the federal government now owns 80 percent of the company.

 

"This is a classic example of a company not understanding the public outcry against their way of doing business.

 

“We should do everything we can to protect taxpayer dollars – and start by looking at the possibility of undoing these bonuses which clearly have not been earned and are certainly not deserved."

 

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Mar 12 2009

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and John McCain (R-Arizona) today made the following statement on the nomination of Assistant Secretary Christopher Hill:

"We have real concerns with the President’s decision to nominate Assistant Secretary Christopher Hill as the next U.S. Ambassador to Iraq," said Senators Graham and McCain. "While Mr. Hill is a talented diplomat who has served our country for many years, his selection for this post concerns us.

"The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad is the world’s largest, and our next ambassador will take the helm at a particularly critical time in our efforts in Iraq," Graham and McCain continued. "The next ambassador should have experience in the Middle East and in working closely with the U.S. military in counterinsurgency or counterterrorism operations. Mr. Hill has neither. Given these considerations, together with the controversial legacy Mr. Hill left in his North Korea diplomacy, we believe that the President should reconsider this nomination."

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Mar 09 2009

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) made the following statement opposing President Obama’s Executive Order allowing federal funding of stem cell research.

 

Graham said:

 

“I understand and appreciate the seriousness of the embryonic stem cell debate and how people of good will and motives may disagree.  But I do not believe it is acceptable to use taxpayer dollars to condone the destruction of viable human embryos, the early stage of all human life, for research purposes.  I have serious reservations about the decision made by President Obama today.  There are other promising alternatives available which involve adult stem cells and the ability to transform them so they have the properties of embryonic cells.  I support those research efforts.”

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Feb 27 2009

WASHINGTON-  U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made the following statement on President Obama’s Iraq withdrawal plan.

 

Graham said:

 

“The implementation of the withdrawal plan announced by the President and supported by our combat commanders still has risk associated with it but overall seems sound.  The ability to slow down troop withdrawals, if necessary, and leaving a strong contingent force of trainers and terrorist fighters will help ensure continued stability in Iraq. 

 

“While the war in Iraq has not yet ended, all Americans should celebrate our ability to withdraw troops from Iraq with honor and after having achieved our objectives.  Every American should enthusiastically greet the last combat soldier with a hearty well done and deep appreciation for having been successful. 

 

“The President’s announcement was made possible only because of the change in strategy, called the surge, which was highly unpopular and received virtually no Democratic support. The need for the surge was based on the realization that the old strategy was failing and that we could not afford to lose in Iraq.  To have done so would have empowered al Qaeda, led to a more influential Iran, and made it virtually impossible to convince moderate Muslims to side with us in the War on Terror.  Now we are on the verge of realizing the significant benefits of success – a stable, functioning government in Iraq where the people rejected al Qaeda, and are embracing representative government.  These events are long overdue changes in the heart of the Middle East.  The new Iraq will buffer Iranian ambitions and, over time, become an important ally in the greater War on Terror.

 

“The country should be ever mindful that mistakes will be made in all wars but there is no substitute for resolve. I am proud of the resolve the troops and their civilian counterparts continue to show in Iraq. I’m equally proud of the Iraqi people as they have rejected terrorism and continue to fight bravely for their own freedom.

 

“Much still lies ahead in Iraq regarding political reconciliation, providing better governance, and strengthening the Iraqi army and police forces. The residual U.S. force will be necessary to continue to assist in these areas. 

 

“However, let there be no doubt that the American military and their civilian counterparts and coalition forces are coming home having delivered a decisive blow against al Qaeda and with the knowledge that the new Iraq, based on democratic, representative government, has changed the politics of the Middle East and has made the world a more secure and hopeful place.”

 

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