Top Senate Republican ‘Optimistic’ About Obama’s Budget: ‘He’s Showing Leadership’

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) expressed optimism about President Obama’s budget, scheduled to be released on Wednesday, saying it could lead to a grand compromise between both parties and force the GOP to meet Democrats in the middle.

“There are nuggets of this budget that I think are optimistic,” Graham explained during an appearance Sunday on Meet the Press. “When you look at chained CPI and Medicare reductions, we’re beginning to set the stage for the grand bargain,” he added and suggested pairing the changes to entitlement programs with reforms to the tax code and new revenue:

GRAHAM: The president is showing a little bit of leg here, this is somewhat encouraging. His overall budget is not going to make it but he has sort of made a step forward in the entitlement reform process that could allow a guy like me to start talking about flattening the tax code and generating a grand bargain. […]

DAVID GREGORY (HOST): You’re putting new revenue, as a Republican you’re putting new revenue on the table…

GRAHAM: If we do substantial entitlement reform that will save $4 to $5 trillion over a 30 year window…this is a step in the right direction… I’m encouraged and that puts the burden on us to the the same thing. I think we will.

Watch it:

On Wednesday, Obama will release a budget that replaces the automatic budget sequestration cuts with other spending reductions while also raising $580 billion in revenue and finding savings in Social Security and Medicare. The budget plan, as the Washington Post notes, is almost identical to the offer Obama made to congressional Republicans in an attempt to reach a “grand bargain” to offset sequestration at the beginning of March, and it is aimed at reaching a similar bargain in the near future. Obama will call for $400 billion in savings from Medicare and other health programs, $130 billion from applying a new inflation measure (chained CPI) to Social Security, $200 billion from defense and domestic spending, and $200 billion from farm subsidies and retiree programs.

GOP leadership has been far more dismissive of Obama’s plan, with House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) saying it is “no way to lead and move the country forward.” “The president got his tax hikes on the wealthy with no corresponding spending cuts,” Boehner said. “At some point we need to solve our spending problem.”