MYRTLE BEACH — U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said Friday in Myrtle Beach that he wants states to be able to opt out of Obamacare and he plans an appearance with Gov. Nikki Haley to forward his idea.
He called the national health program “a clever, ill designed, ill-conceived effort” to drive the private sector out of healthcare. He said that people should take more responsibility for their own health and be able to buy the level of insurance they think best for themselves.
He asked how many of the approximately 100 people in the audience asked doctors what they would be charged for care, and few raised their hands.
“If you had a contest to screw up America, you would have a winner,” he said of Obamacare. “Having said that, the status quo is not acceptable either.”
Graham, R-S.C., wasn’t real specific about what he thought acceptable other than to say there should be a floor income below which some government assistance might be possible for healthcare.
The senator spoke at a gathering of area Republicans, Realtors and business people at the Coastal Carolinas Association of Realtors. While the Realtors association provided the space, other sponsors included the Grand Strand Business Alliance, the Horry County Republican Party and South Strand and North Myrtle Beach Republican clubs.
Although Graham’s visit was billed as a non-campaign event, it can be hard to avoid politicking when the chance presents itself.
“When you’re in office, every stop is a campaign stop,” said Robert Rabon, chairman of the Horry County Republican Party.
As he said he would, Graham took the audience of area Republican club members, Realtors and business people on an issue-based trip from the Grand Strand to the Middle East, with a stop in the nation’s capitol in between.
After it was over and Graham had worked his way through the line of people who wanted to shake his hand and have their pictures taken with him, he privately asked South Strand Republican stalwart Jon Bonsignor what local Tea Party members are saying about him.
Graham is up for reelection in 2014 and is already facing a robust primary at least partly fueled by the fact that the Tea Party doesn’t think he is conservative enough.
In his talk to the group, he touched on any number of conservative hot-button issues and judging by the applause he got on some of the topics, his credentials were solid when he left the room.
Graham said during his remarks that he’s working to make sure that the Charleston port is dredged and maintained at a sufficient depth to deal with the bulk of the new super carriers that will be seeking East Coast dock space once the enlarged Panama Canal is open. Graham said he would favor a competition among East Coast ports to determine which will provide the best return on the limited dollars the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has to spend on the work and he believes the $300 million the state has pledged for the work will put Charleston at the head of the list.
Graham met with the Corps before he appeared at the gathering, and afterwards said that the Corps officials also said they are ready to dredge the Georgetown port as well once it gets the go-ahead. Graham said U.S. Rep. Tom Rice, R-Myrtle Beach, and other House members provided a good base of funding when they approved set asides from port maintenance fees specifically for work at smaller ports.
Graham said he has an idea as well that could provide the money to build Interstate 73. He said that he wants to allow U.S. corporations to bring home about $2 trillion dollars they have in overseas banks at perhaps less than a third of the current 35 percent tax when they did so and use the revenue for infrastructure.
“We’ve got a pleasant problem in Horry County,” he said. “Everybody wants to come here and we’ve got to accommodate that.”
While Horry would benefit from the interstate connection, Graham said the winners would include inland counties that could see interstate-fueled development and the jobs it would bring.
On the international front, Graham said the current agreement with Iran to stop its drive toward developing a nuclear bomb is a bad deal and that he will keep up pressure to bring to light what he believes is the truth about the attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.
The bottom line, though, was vote for Republicans and in that, he was preaching to the choir. Only one of the approximately 100 people in the audience confessed to being a Democrat.
“Are you ready for a Republican president?” Graham asked at one point.
The answer was near unanimous applause.
Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.