Interview with Senator Lindsey Graham
EDITOR'S NOTE: Boris Epshteyn formerly served as a Senior Advisor to the Trump Campaign and served in the White House as Special Assistant to The President and Assistant Communications Director for Surrogate Operations.
WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) -
BORIS EPSHTEYN: Hello. Today we are here with the senior senator from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham. Senator, thank you so much for joining us.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: Thanks for having me.
BORIS: Let’s dive right in. On Iran, the president recently announced after months of speculation he would not be certifying Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal as it stands. Now it is in the hands of you and your colleagues here in Congress. What do you think has to come out of Congress for the president to keep the deal alive?
SEN. GRAHAM: Well, the first thing is the president ran on the idea that this was a bad deal for America and the world. The Israelis hate this deal. The Arabs hate this deal and they live in Iran’s backyard. What would a better deal look like? That we could inspect any military base in Iran to see if they’re in compliance and they can’t say no. That at the end of the deal, 15 years from now, we don’t just give them anything they want. If they’re still the largest state sponsor of terrorism, if they’re still in violation of UN resolution regarding their missile program, then they do not, the inspection regime stays in place. The goal is to make sure Iran never gets the bomb. It’s a dumb deal to stop the inspections after 15 years.
BORIS: America’s issues with Iran go much deeper than just the nuclear issue, their nuclear ambition. State sponsor of terrorism. The ballistic missile training. Do you believe, as some Democrats do, that this deal should only focus on Iran’s nuclear ambition or should it be all encompassing?
SEN. GRAHAM: The dumbest deal since Munich, since they let Hitler run wild in the 1930s. John Kerry and Barack Obama said we are going to give you $150 billion of sanctions relief and you can do whatever you want to with it just as long as you honor the nuclear deal. The biggest mistake of all was to disconnect the Ayatollah's behavior from sanctions. So what have they done with the money? They’re becoming a stronger military. They’ve toppled four Arab capitals. They’re the largest sponsor of terrorism. They have ICBMs with “Death to Israel” written on top. They’ve got the money. They haven’t changed. So Obama disconnected their behavior from the nuclear deal which was a huge mistake.
BORIS: On healthcare reform, this year you’ve jumped head first into the healthcare reform debate. You put your name on the Graham-Cassidy bill. First, what motivated you to put such a special focus on healthcare reform?
SEN. GRAHAM: If we don’t repair, if we don’t replace Obamacare we are going to have socialism for healthcare. The federal government is going to own healthcare from cradle to grave. Bernie Sanders wants to replace Obamacare with a single payer healthcare system, I want to take the money we would spend in Washington on Obamacare and block grant it to the state where you live and put it in the hands of politicians you can vote for and make them more accountable and you’ll get a better outcome. This is the most important thing I’ll ever do as a senator to stop the march to single payer healthcare.
BORIS: You’ve said that you plan to bring up Graham-Cassidy back up in the spring in the Senate. It just failed to come up for a vote in this past month. What do you think will be different next spring from what just happened?
SEN. GRAHAM: We had two Republicans vote against the process. We only had 5 days to deal with Graham-Cassidy. We were late to the game. The reason we were late was I assumed “they” knew what they were doing about healthcare. We really didn’t have a good alternative to Obamacare until now. Next year, what we’ll do is we’ll start in the committee. We’ll have a vote in the committee, we’ll bring it to the floor, we’ll go through regular order, and I am confident with President Trump’s backing we’re going to pass Graham-Cassidy which will replace Obamacare and if we don’t, you’re going to have Bernie-care.
BORIS: On taxes you recently said the Republican Party is “dead” if tax reform is not passed. Healthcare reform has been very difficult. Why do you think tax reform is different?
SEN. GRAHAM: We are Republicans. If we can’t cut your taxes, what good are we? We promised to cut taxes if you gave us a majority and repeal and replace Obamacare if we had the White House, the Senate and the House. We failed twice on healthcare reform. Now we have a chance to cut your taxes. If we fail on tax cuts after failing on healthcare, if I were a Republican, I would hate our guts. I wouldn't write us a check and we would deserve to lose. If we do cut your taxes and we do eventually replace Obamacare with a block grant called Graham-Cassidy, which President Trump is for, then I think we are going to win in 2018 and he will get reelected. But if we fail to cut your taxes after seven years of promising to do so we don’t deserve to be in the majority.
BORIS: On tax reform, what do you believe classifies as a success in order for the Republican Party to not be dead going forward?
SEN. GRAHAM: Here’s what would be successful to me - if we lowered the corporate tax rate to 20 so our companies wouldn’t have to leave American because we tax them too much. If working men and women who make $50-60,000 a year would get about a $4,000 pay raise because we doubled the standard deduction and if we cleaned up the tax code to make it simpler and fairer but the biggest prize of all is if you make money overseas as an American company you can bring it back to America without a penalty. So the biggest prize of all to go to a territorial tax system and what would be successful to me is if the economy begins to grow beyond 3 percent GDP.