Sen. Lindsey Graham called on Sen. Bernie Sanders to “abandon” the Democratic agenda during a televised debate Monday — saying it’s “not working” for average Americans and creating an “inflationary death spiral.”
“I would ask you to focus on lowering gas prices, securing the border and bringing law and order back to America,” Graham (R-South Carolina) said during the hour-long event sponsored by Fox News.
“And the only way you’re going to do that, Sen. Sanders, is abandon the agenda that you’ve charted for America, ’cause it is not working.”
Graham also blamed President Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, and other Democratic priorities for driving up inflation, which last week hit a 40-year high rate of 8.6%.
“Your policies are leading to a surge in gas prices with no end to them,” he told the democratic socialist Sanders (I-Vermont).
“So, all I can suggest to the American people: this inflationary death spiral we’re in is being driven by policies that don’t work.”
Sanders, who caucuses with the Senate’s Democrats, said that Graham was “right” about gas prices, calling them “outrageously high in Vermont” and nothing that he “filled up the other day: $5.05 a gallon.”
“Meanwhile, the major oil companies made $35 billion in profit in the first quarter of this year. And at the end of the year, it is estimated they’re gonna give $88 billion dollars in stock buybacks to their wealthy shareholders,” he said.
“So, I do think we have to do something… I think the president should bring the major oil companies in and tell them we’re gonna have a windfall profits tax on what they’re doing, in order to stop them from ripping off the American people.”
Sanders also said it was unfair to put all the blame for inflation on Biden.
“Inflation is not just Joe Biden’s issue,” he said.
“You have to explain why it takes place around the world, and that has to do with supply chain, the terrible war in Ukraine, and in my view, corporate greed.”
At one point, Sanders objected to Graham calling him a “socialist” and compared it to “red-baiting.”
“Well, you’re a socialist, aren’t you?” Graham shot back.
Sanders replied, “I’m a democratic socialist. And the policies that I advocate are taking place all over the world.”
Sanders then ticked off a laundry list of progressive positions, including raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, guaranteeing health care for “all people,” expanding Medicare benefits, and lifting the cap on Social Security taxes for those making more than $147,000 a year.
“So, you know, I understand that certain words will have an impact on certain parts of our country,” he said.
“But take a look at the issues that we are fighting for. One every one of those issues, Lindsey, the American people support me — not you.”
Fox News showed the debate at noon Eastern time on its Fox Nation streaming service during a hearing held by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters who sought to disrupt congressional certification of Biden’s 2020 electoral victory.
Fox News will air the debate in full on Saturday, June 18 at 7 pm.
Sanders said Americans were “looking at a real threat to democracy…because we have a former president whose name is Donald Trump who goes around the country saying, ‘Hey, I won the election.’”
When asked by moderator Bret Baier if the election had been “stolen” from Trump, Graham said that “I voted to certify the election” and that “President Biden is the president.”
“He won the election?” Sanders interjected.
“Yeah,” Graham said.
Graham also said of Sanders, “Here’s the point: Why is he talking about Trump. Because he can’t talk about anything else.”
The rival lawmakers agreed that the trade tariffs Trump imposed on China shouldn’t be lifted, although Sanders said he favored an exemption for solar panels.
Earlier, Graham said he and Sanders were also united in their opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his deadly invasion of Ukraine.
“Bernie and I agree: Putin sucks,” Graham said.
When Baier asked Sanders if he concurred, Sanders said, “I’m not in favor of the vulgarity but the intent is correct.”