CBS "Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer" - Transcript

Interview

By:  Lindsey Graham
Date: June 17, 2012
Location: Unknown

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BOB SCHIEFFER: Senator Graham, what's your-- what's your take on that, what the President did last week, and now the response we get from Governor Romney, who seems to say, yes, this is a problem. We got to do something about it, but what the President did was just done for political reasons.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-South Carolina): Well, I think it's pretty clear that that there are ten million illegal immigrants not affected by this. What about them? I don't think it's a brilliant move when the President of the United States tells a federal agency stop enforcing the law. I can't ever remember that happening, and that's what they're doing. They're just "stop enforcing the law." You're going to have eight hundred thousand work permits issued by a stroke of a pen. You're going around Congress and the American people, and you're doing nothing about a broken immigration system. What about employer verification? What about border security? What about visa reform? So we can get the workers we need in the hi-tech and agricultural community. The real moving parts of immigration were left unaddressed. He promised immigration reform in his first year, 2008. He had sixty Democratic senators, a big majority in the House, and he did nothing, and the reason he's doing this is because he's got a big speech next week. So I think President Obama's decision here is political, hasn't fixed immigration, is breathtakingly getting around the law, and I think well seen by most Hispanics as too little, too late. He had a chance to do something on immigration, and he's doing it right before the election in a very transparent, political fashion--

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): Senator, what is the--

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: --which is consistent with who he is as a politician.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Just-- just from the standpoint of straight old politics, did the President help his party and hurt yours? Did Governor Romney, taking the stance he has, help or hurt the Republican Party?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: I don't think you're helping your party when you're hurting the country. He had a chance to help the country. He made a promise to-- to the country and to the Hispanic community. He would solve immigration completely and comprehensively in his first year. He had a huge Democratic majority in both Houses. He did nothing. I don't think you're helping the Hispanic community who has high unemployment, higher than any other group in the country quite frankly, by doing something here a few months before the election that doesn't really solve the problem. Immigration is not fixed because of this. This is a policy change that's designed to help his reelection, not designed to fix a broken immigration system. And I do believe it is breathtaking that a President of the United States would say stop enforcing the law.

HOWARD DEAN: What's breathtaking is that Republican senator who had a hand in killing all the immigration legislation is now complaining that the President couldn't get a immigration reform through. I think people like to see what the President did. First of all, these are children we're talking about. This has a ninety percent approval rating among the Hispanic community doing what the President did. So this-- these are kids. These are not people who snuck across the border. These are people who were dragged across the border, went to American high schools, served in the American--in many cases in the American armed forces. Secondly, the idea that a President who is faced with an obstructionist Congress, where Republicans won't let judges or any other people come before and have a fair straight up-and-down vote, the idea that he's going to stand up to obstructionist Congress, which has about a nine percent favorability rating that's people want to see that. They want strong leadership. They got strong leadership this week and they're going to get strong leadership in the future. The President is not going to put up with this obstructionist Congress.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, you are talking about the senator I'm looking at right now on the screen?

HOWARD DEAN: No, actually I admire this senator because he-- he crossed Grover Norquist on his ridiculous tax pledge and actually admitted that we are going to have to raise both revenues and cut spending. So this senator is an exception to the rule. But the fact is, the other forty-four Republican senators--

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (overlapping): You're killing me, Howard, you're killing me.

HOWARD DEAN: Yeah, probably not going to help you in South Carolina in any way, Lindsey, right?

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me-- Senator Graham, since he brought up Grover Norquist, let me just ask you about that. What about this idea? Governor Romney you heard him say he would not accept even one dollar in increased revenues for ten dollars in-- in spending cuts, if that could be found. I know both you and Jeb Bush said-- said this week that maybe Republicans ought to kind of be thinking about this idea of this pledge of no new taxes under any circumstances. What about that?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, good question. What Governor Romney said is he would look at Simpson-Bowles as the model. And Simpson-Bowles, the Gang of Six, the Supercommittee--even though it failed--there's a formula that I think will take hold eventually. Nobody wants to raise tax rates. Not one person who has looked at this problem we have as a nation suggested raising tax rates. But Tom Coburn, Pat Toomey, the Gang of Six, Simpson-Bowles Commission--all said let's flatten and broaden the tax base. Let's eliminate deductions and when you ask him how many deductions? I think we should eliminate all deductions except interest on your home and charitable giving with a cap, take that money back into the Treasury--it's a trillion dollars a year we give away in deductions--and use most of it to pay down tax rates and about one-fourth of it to pay down the debt. That's what Simpson-Bowles, the Gang of Six, the Supercommittee tried to do. And I'm confident that's what Governor Romney would embrace.

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): You know--

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: And here's the bottom-- here's the bottom-line, Bob, we're not going to get entitlement reform from Democrats unless we put revenue on the table as Republicans. And I'm not going to put revenue on the table as I described without entitlement reform. We know what to do, what we should do it. And we're not going to do it without presidential leadership. So I hope Governor Romney and President Obama will do something before the election to show this leadership.

HOWARD DEAN: I agree with that. You know, I think Senator Graham and I were in the room, we'd probably come to an agreement fairly quickly. He's right. We do have to have entitlement reform. I do not agree that only one-quarter of the tax savings-- and I agree with him on exactly the deductions that should be kept, too. What I don't agree with him on is I believe three-quarters of it ought to go towards paying down the deficit, not one-quarter because the deficit is a huge problem, but I didn't think that was a particularly unreasonable suggestion that he just made.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, gentlemen, I want to thank both of you.

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