U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he believes South Carolina would opt out of Obamacare if the decision was left up to the states.


In addition to speaking about SRS, Graham covered several other topics during his visit with the Aiken Standard including his disapproval of Obamacare, his thoughts on the federal budget and the upcoming election.


Obamacare

Graham said when he was given the option to take health care under the Washington, D.C., insurance exchange and receive subsidies for the government, or sign up for health care in the state as an individual, he chose the latter.


“I decided to sign up in S.C. to live the life that people in my state are going to live. My premiums almost tripled and my deductibles went up to over $6,000 from less than $1,000,” he said. “I'm not whining; but I'm paying a lot more and getting a lot less.”


He said an alternative solution could be opening up the competition and allowing families to seek out their own health care packages, including shopping outside of their state's borders.


“If you can find a better deal for your business or your family in California, you should be able to buy a policy in California and not just restrict it to the companies in South Carolina,” Graham said.


Federal budget

Graham voted against the federal budget last month when the budget made its rounds in the Senate.


“Voted against ending debate on budget bill which cuts retirement benefits for current and future military retirees,” he posted on Twitter after the voting process.


Although Graham did not vote to approve the budget, he said he feels the current budget is overall responsible and fiscal.


The discretionary budget – which includes funding for SRS, Veteran Affairs, the Department of Education and the Department of Defense – accounts for about one-third of the money used to run the government. The budget was “squeezed” this year, which saves $20 billion every year for two years, he said.


“The sequestration cuts to SRS and the defense department were devastating, so we got some relief from that,” Graham said. “Congress is running more like a business for the next two years and the $20 billion a year makes it a lot easier on the defense department as they transition after Iraq and Afghanistan.”


In other areas, Graham said he'd like to see programs such as Medicare and Social Security regain their competence because they're going bankrupt.


“You're having 10,000 baby boomers a day retire, and, in the next 30 years, 80 million will retire,” he said. “Now is the time to save these programs.”


Upcoming election

When asked why he has so many opponents in the upcoming election, Graham attributed it to his longevity.


“I've been out here in the middle of things for a while, whether it's national security, fiscal issues or trying to govern the country,” he said. “Washington is broken, but you're not going to fix it by yelling at each other.”


Currently, Graham's opponents include Sen. Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg; Richard Cash, a former Congressional candidate; and Nancy Mace, who is also rising through the political ranks.


He added that if he wins, his future goals include moderating defense cuts so the nation's military won't have the smallest Army since 1940, the smallest Air Force in modern history and only a 240-ship Navy.


“I want to strengthen our defense programs so that those who we ask to fight the wars have the equipment to win the wars,” he said. “I want to make sure that defense spending is the No. 1 priority of the government; that's the Ronald Reagan view.”


Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard. He joined the paper in June. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and a graduate of Georgia Southern University. Follow him on Twitter @DerrekAsberry.