Monday, August 1, 2011

Biden: Tea partiers like 'terrorists'

Vice President Joe Biden joined House Democrats in lashing tea party Republicans Monday, accusing them of having “acted like terrorists” in the fight over raising the nation’s debt limit.

Biden was agreeing with a line of argument made by Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) at a two-hour, closed-door Democratic Caucus meeting.

“We have negotiated with terrorists,” an angry Doyle said, according to sources in the room. “This small group of terrorists have made it impossible to spend any money.”

Biden, driven by his Democratic allies’ misgivings about the debt-limit deal, responded: “They have acted like terrorists,” according to several sources in the room.

Biden’s office declined to comment about what the vice president said inside the closed-door session.

Earlier in the day, Biden told Senate Democrats that Republican leaders have “guns to their heads” in trying to negotiate deals.

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The vice president’s hot rhetoric about tea party Republicans underscored the tense moment on Capitol Hill as four party leaders in both chambers work to round up the needed votes in an abbreviated time frame. The bill would raise the debt limit by as much as $2.4 trillion through the end of next year and reduce the deficit by an equal amount over the next decade.

Democrats had no shortage of colorful phrases in wake of the deal.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) called it a “Satan sandwich,” and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) called seemed to enjoy the heat analogy, saying: “the Tea Partiers and the GOP have made their slash and burn lunacy clear, and while I do not love this compromise, my vote is a hose to stop the burning. The arsonists must be stopped.

The deal was consummated Sunday night, the text of the bill was posted in the wee hours of Monday morning, and the House was expected to vote first on it Monday afternoon or evening. But there are still plenty of concerns in both parties and in both chambers.

Liberal Democrats have had the most averse reaction to the plan, which ensures between $2.1 trillion and $2.4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade without requiring any of it to come from tax increases.

Biden told Democratic lawmakers that the deal would take away the tea party’s “weapon of mass destruction” — the threat of a default on U.S. debt obligations.

“They have no compunction about blowing up the economy to get what they want,” Doyle said after the meeting.