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CBS "Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer" - Transcript

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SCHIEFFER: And joining us now from Clemson, South Carolina, Senator Lindsey Graham who said he is willing to increase revenues if the administration is willing to tackle entitlement reform. So, Senator, first question, what is your reaction to what you just heard?

GRAHAM: I think we're going over the cliff. It's pretty clear to me they made a political calculation. This offer doesn't remotely deal with entitlement reform in a way to save Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security from imminent bankruptcy. It raises $1.6 trillion on job creators that will destroy the economy, and there were no spending controls. And I'm serious about revenue. You can limit deductions to $40,000 or $50,000 a person, which takes care of the middle class. Upper-income Americans will lose their deductions and raise about $800 billion in revenue, but I'll only do that if we do entitlement reform. And the president's plan, when it comes to entitlement reform, is just quite frankly a joke. So I don't think they're serious about finding a deal. John Boehner is serious about revenue. He'll get a lot of push- back, but a lot of Republicans will rally about John Boehner about limiting deductions to raise somewhere between $700 billion and $800 billion in revenue. And I bet you this, if you took the president's plan and put it on the floor of the House and the Senate, he would get very few votes for his plan.

SCHIEFFER: So you're saying you think that both sides -- and this is my phrase -- that both sides would actually be stupid enough to let us go over this fiscal cliff because they can't come to some kind of a compromise?

GRAHAM: I would just say this, that my side knows we lost the election, and we're willing to put revenue on the table that will get some political heat for people like me. That is movement in a positive way. Republicans should do revenue. We're willing to do it in a smart way. If you raise tax rates, you get $400 billion in revenue and you hurt job creation. If you limit deductions at about $40,000, $50,000 per person, you protect the middle class and you get about $800 billion in revenue. A hundred percent of Americans are going to lose everything we know as America if we don't fix entitlements. We're becoming Greece because of out-of-control entitlement spending. There's no age adjustment for Medicare and Social Security. There is no means testing in the president's plan. We should do what Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill did, adjust the age for retirement and means-test benefits, do it together, and Republicans should put revenues on the table. And the president's plan does nothing but damn us to become Greece.

SCHIEFFER: Let me shift to the whole situation with that episode that happened back in Benghazi that's been, kind of, in turmoil. What happened? How was it that an American ambassador and three other Americans died there? Susan Rice, who many think the president was planning to nominate to be secretary of state, was back up on Capitol Hill during the week. Did she help or hurt her case?

GRAHAM: Well, apparently, according to the senators she met, she didn't do herself much good. But let's just say this about Benghazi. It's just not about Susan Rice. It's about a system that failed. The military failed. The intelligence community failed, before and during. This is about a system designed to protect us that completely broke down. The consulate should have been closed in the first place. I can't believe we couldn't reinforce it in seven hours. And that's where I'm going to move to next. But as to Susan Rice, the story she told on your show and others on 16 September, after having looked at the intelligence that was available, does not remotely meet the truth. She said that the security at the consulate was strong, substantial and significant on three different shows. That wasn't even in the talking points about the level of security. If you look at the evidence available, the footprint in Benghazi was not strong, substantial, or significant. It was weak. They had been begging for months to have more reinforcements or close the place like the British did. I think her story on 16 September was a political story designed to help the president three weeks before the election. And she should be held accountable for that. She let you and others know, by the way, this president decimated Al Qaida. And if you looked at the facts around Benghazi, you could not have said in good conscience Al Qaida had been decimated anywhere in the world. And this was not a result of a video. This was a preplanned terrorist attack and they should have known it early on. So her statements on 16 September are a treasure trove of misleading statements that had the effect of helping the president, downplaying a debacle three weeks before the attack (sic). The president, if he believes she is the best person in this country -- and you have a lot of good people to choose from -- to be secretary of state, that she's most talented, most gifted, the best choice he could make, then he should send her up. I am inclined to support presidential choices. Elections matter. I voted for every Cabinet official, almost all of President Obama's judges. When he was a senator, he had a different view of how to do this. But when it comes to Susan Rice, I can tell you, as far as Lindsey Graham's concerned, I find great fault with what she said on 16 September, and in other areas I find her lacking when it comes to being the best choice for secretary of state. But this is up to the president.

SCHIEFFER: All right, Well, Lindsey Graham I think... I think you laid it out in pretty uncertain terms.

GRAHAM: And can I just add one thing?

SCHIEFFER: Sure. Sure.

GRAHAM: Well -- but, OK, the next thing that Lindsey Graham wants to talk about is why, for seven hours on September 11th, we could not reinforce the compound. Did the president order the military and others to come to their aid? And if he did, when did he make that order? When was he first notified? We know every detail of the bin Laden raid. We have photos of him commanding the moment. We don't know anything about what he did on September the 11th when it comes to Benghazi. And if he ordered these people to be helped and the answer was there is nothing we can do, what did he say about it? Was he mad? We need to get into the details of how they died, and we also need to get into the details of why we left our consulate so open and unsecured when the British left and everybody else left Benghazi but us. This is a story of system failure, and if we don't get to the bottom of it, we will fail to learn. And if we don't change our strategy from a foreign policy point of view, Bob, change this light footprint approach to the war on terror, there are going to be more Benghazis.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, thank you very much, Lindsey Graham.

GRAHAM: Thank you.

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