POLITICS: PennAve

Lindsey Graham to GOP: Don't screw up Obamacare message

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Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., warned fellow Republicans Sunday that they need to strike a fiscal deal soon so the public's focus can shift to the glitch-filled roll out of Obamacare rather than a Congress consumed by the government shutdown and looming debt ceiling deadline.

Republicans can still avoid political disaster in next year's mid-term elections, he said, if Congress can end the government shutdown and raise the nation's debt ceiling by Thursday's deadline. After that, Republicans can turn to their top priority, defeating Obamacare, whose implementation is off to a rocky start.

“[For] House and Senate Republicans, the sooner this is over, the better for us, guys,” Graham said on “This Week” on ABC. “And to our Democratic friends, you own Obamacare, and it’s going to be a political gift that keeps on giving. So the shutdown will be old news next year, Obamacare’s faults will be front and center in 2014 — if we don’t screw this up.”

Many Republicans have lamented that all the attention given to the shutdown and debt ceiling has overshadowed the rocky roll out of President Obama’s signature legislative achievement. The administration has been unable to handle the high public demand for information about Obamacare since the health insurance exchanges at the heart of it launched on Oct. 1.

“What breaks my heart is the last 12 days you’ve had a complete meltdown of the portal called Obamacare,” Graham said. “The whole system [is] just not working. And we’re overshadowing how badly Obamacare has been rolled out.”

However, the South Carolina Republican hammered his Democratic colleagues for their proposals to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling.

“Our Democratic friends keep moving the goalposts in the Senate, thinking they’re winning,” Graham said.

Democrats rejected a GOP-floated compromise over the weekend, as they try to undo many of the so-called sequester cuts that went into effect earlier this year. Top Senate leaders began direct talks Saturday in hopes of hammering out a deal by Monday.

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