(CBS News, By Leigh Ann Caldwell ) Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., gave a pessimistic view of prospects for a deal on the so-called "fiscal cliff." With less than a month before a series of spending cuts and tax hikes are set to go into effect, Graham said that the president's plan is "a joke."
"I think we're going over the cliff," Graham said on CBS News' "Face the Nation." He criticized the president's opening offer to raise taxes by $1.6 trillion and said his offer to reform entitlement programs of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security is practically nonexistent.
"The president's plan does nothing but damn us to becoming Greece," Graham said, referring to the European country in the middle of a crippling budget crisis.
In the past several days, negotiations have hit a roadblock as each side balked at the other's opening proposal. The president's central component to his plan is to raise taxes by $1.6 trillion over 10 years. It centers around his insistence that the tax cuts expire for those making more than $250,000 per year, therefore raising taxes on that group. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner reaffirmed the president's stance, saying "there is no way we can get to a balanced plan that puts us back on a path to living within our means, protects Medicare, invests in things we need, if you extend those tax rates."
As part of his revenue increases, Mr. Obama has also proposed an increase in the estate tax to 45 percent and limiting some deductions and getting rid of loopholes, although the specifics have not been made public. In addition the president proposed $600 billion in savings, in part, by making changes - although unspecified - to entitlement programs.
Graham said the president's plan for entitlements is "a joke" and his tax increases would hurt job creators. Graham adopted the Republican stance of raising revenue by limiting deductions, saying that would raise about $800 billion - half the amount the president wants. He also promoted the idea that the age to receive entitlements should be increased and the wealthy should receive lower benefits.
"It's pretty clear to me they've made a political calculation," Graham said about the president's proposal. He said the Republicans have offered concessions and the president's needs to step up and do the same. "My side knows we lost the election and we're willing to put revenue on the table... that's movement in a positive way."
Graham also weighed in on another controversial topic among lawmakers on Capitol Hill - Benghazi and U.N. ambassador Susan Rice.
He said Rice "didn't do herself much good" when she met with Republican critics this past week. "I think her story on 16th of September was a political story... to help the president win the election," he said bluntly.