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Graham ‘disappointed in the Republican party’ for debt deal

The South Carolina Senator says the “the party of Ronald Reagan would have never” punished the military like this.

The willingness of Republicans to agree to sequestration defense cuts proves the GOP has lost sight of the proper role of government, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said this week.

At an event hosted by the Weekly Standard and Concerned Veterans for America Tuesday afternoon, Graham took his own party to task for agreeing to last year???s Budget Control Act, which used ???devastating??? defense cuts as collateral for a deficit reduction deal.

???The party of Ronald Reagan would have never done the following: if a bunch of politicians failed to reach an agreement over a $1.2 trillion spending package, let???s punish the military beyond recognition,??? he said.

Graham is one of the 19 Senate Republicans in the enviable position of having not voted for sequestration, which passed with bipartisan support in the House and Senate. His close colleagues John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) both voted for the deal.

Most of the no votes in the Senate came from its most conservative members: Oklahoma Sens. Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn both voted against sequestration, as did Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), and Rand Paul (Ky.)

But the 28 Republicans who did vote for the Budget Control Act mean that, ???as a party, we have slipped from what the role of the federal government should be,??? Graham said. ???When we do a federal budget, knowing that everything is on the table, the first thing a Republican should ask, I think any American should ask, is ???how did the Defense Department fare.??? Because without national security, social security is an illusion.???

At the event, Graham also admitted for the first time that he would be willing to countenance some additional cuts to defense to reduce the deficit–but not without overall reform and careful consideration of U.S. security needs.

???If we could come up with an entitlement reform deal that saves Social Security and Medicare and deals with Medicaid, and sets some spending limits that are more sustainable, I would entertain going past $487 billion (the total defense budget reduction implemented last year),??? he said. ???But the one concept I will not entertain is having a military that doesn???t make us an exceptional nation.???

Graham said it didn???t make sense to make serious cuts to defense while still at war in Afghanistan, with nuclear threats from Iran, uncertainty in Syria, and the outcome of the ???Arab Spring??? still unclear.

???I would like to know some general idea of how this movie ends,??? Graham said. ???If we don???t know how these things are unfolding, then I think we???re making a very poor national security decision driven by budgets.???

Written By

Hope Hodge first covered military issues for the Daily News of Jacksonville, N.C., where her beat included the sprawling Marine Corps base, Camp Lejeune. During her two years at the paper, she received investigative reporting awards for exposing a former Marine who was using faked military awards to embezzle disability pay from the government and for breaking news about the popularity of the designer drug Spice in the ranks. Her work has also appeared in The American Spectator, New York Sun, WORLD Magazine, and The Washington Post. Hodge was born near Boston, Mass., where she grew up as a lover of Revolutionary War history and fall foliage. She also discovered a love of politics and policy as a grassroots volunteer and activist on Beacon Hill. She graduated in 2009 with a degree in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics from The King's College in New York City, where she served as editor-in-chief of her school newspaper and worked as a teaching assistant when not freelancing or using student discounts to see Broadway shows. Hope???s email is