‘We need more taxes like a hole in the head’
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., spoke to students Wednesday night at an event hosted by USC’s chapter of the College Republicans. The 1977 USC graduate spoke about his views on national issues and then took questions from students.
Graham said that he wanted to be “brutally honest” as he tackled topics including Social Security and Medicare, tax code, education and national security.
Graham said he is running for reelection and fielding primary challenges this November because he is passionate about being a senator.
“I like the job. I want to do something big before I do. I want to do something worthy of a job,” Graham said.
A major issue that Graham spoke about was the state of Social Security and Medicare, with baby boomers retiring soon and birth rates staying mostly flat.
Graham said he believes that the solution to this “unsustainable” path for the federal government is to increase those programs’ age of eligibility to 67 and to reevaluate the usage of the Consumer Price Index. He also said that benefits should be needs tested.
“If we do what I’m talking about, … in the next four or five years, this all turns around,” Graham said. “If we keep kicking the can down the road, it will be hard to turn it around.”
He also said Republicans need to simplify the tax code. He suggested eliminating some deductions and lowering the corporate rate from 35 percent to 25 percent.
Graham said that doing nothing is not an option, and he challenged Democrats to work with Republicans.
“We need more taxes like a hole in the head, because if you create taxes, it’s hard to create more jobs,” Graham said.
Many students in the audience were concerned about the Republican Party’s prospects in future elections, and some asked the senator if he thinks the party was too conservative.
Graham said the party is not too conservative, citing the nation’s fastest-growing demographic, Hispanic Americans’ tendency to be pro-life and African-Americans’ tendency to support traditional marriage.
“Conservatism is an asset. It is. When you ask the country on a scale from 1 to 10, ‘Are you liberal or conservative?’ we are one click to the right of 5,” Graham said. “I want to leave behind to you a party that is more than the Deep South and Midwest, and we don’t have to be liberal to do that.”
He said the Republicans’ losses in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections were partly caused by a changing electoral map and a changing United States.
“We lost because the demographics of the country are changing, and the math doesn’t add up,” Graham said. “If we don’t repair the damage done demographically, that map doesn’t work out.”
He said he is, however, optimistic about the future of the country and the Republican Party. He said voters will be looking for something different in the new election and that he wants to help create a party that is viable, conservative and optimistic.
“The Republican Party is at a crossroads. … I’m bullish on the party’s future. After eight years of Obama, people are going to be looking for something different,” Graham said. “Here’s the bad news for our Democratic friends: They own an agenda that’s just not selling. We’ve got a second chance coming in 2014. We’ve got a second chance coming in 2016. Let’s not blow it.”