Biden Denies Likening Republicans to Terrorists in Debt Talks


bidenVice President Joe Biden has been the White House’s point person for reaching a debt-ceiling deal since day one, so it was only natural that he was dispatched to Capitol Hill on Monday to move the ball over the finish line.

“I didn’t go to convince, I went to explain,” Biden told reporters after back-to-back meetings with Senate and House Democrats today.

Forget the debt deal. Biden is now being asked by Republicans to explain comments attributed to him likening talks with conservative “tea party” lawmakers to negotiations with terrorists.

According to Politico, Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Doyle was the one who introduced the analogy, saying that a “small group of terrorists have made it impossible to spend any money.” Biden accepted the premise, saying to the wary caucus: “They have acted like terrorists.”

Republicans were incensed by the comparison.

RNC chairman Reince Priebus said the vice president “more than crossed a line today,” and demanded an apology.

The office of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a tea party favorite, offered this twist: “With the president holding the American economy hostage, I would prefer to think of myself as a freedom fighter.”

Biden denied that he ever called Republicans “terrorists.”

“I did not use the terrorism word,” he told “CBS Evening News” anchor Scott Pelley. “What happened was there were some people who said they felt like they were being held hostage by terrorists. I never said that they were terrorists or weren’t terrorists, I just let them vent.”

At ease in his natural habitat — he was a senator for 36 years before moving to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue — Biden displayed trademark candor behind closed doors. In the same meeting with House Democrats, Biden made another comment that could have had more significant consequences on the planned debt-ceiling vote Monday night.

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) told reporters that Biden said President Obama “was willing to invoke the 14th Amendment” if the parties could not reach a debt deal by Tuesday’s deadline.

A sizable group of Democrats have long advocated a clean debt-ceiling increase, without the steep spending cuts Republicans demanded. If one could not be passed, they felt Obama should have used that 14th Amendment option to raise the debt limit unilaterally — a risky gambit that some legal scholars said may not have been constitutional.

Biden’s admission risked pushing Democrats already skeptical of the proposal to move into the firm “no” column.

“I think that’s the best option now, invoke the 14th Amendment and don’t go forward with this package,” DeFazio said.

{The Los Angeles Times/ Newscenter}


  1. Funded and controlled by corporate lobbyists, the Tea Party is an opportunistic, faux populist movement. “Astroturf”. Through demagoguery and disinformation, the Tea Party exploits the very real and legitimate grievances of so many Americans.

    The Tea Party, in taking the fanatic positions that they have, have been the “bad cop” that has allowed establishment Republicans such as Boehner to play the role of “good cop”. Thus Boehner & Co. are able to take positions that although quite unreasonable, illogical, unjust and immoral in their own right, nonetheless appear moderate and reasonable by contrast.

    “Well, you had this kind of debt ceiling come up, I think, maybe 20 times under Bush’s administration. It’s a non-threatening thing. It’s something automatic. It’s technical. It’s sort of like going to the corner and having a certified—somebody certify what you’ve done. It’s a technical thing that has nothing to do with the real economy or policy at all. They’re pretending it’s a crisis because they have a plan. And the plan is what Mr. Boehner has put forth. Just like after 9/11, the Pentagon pulled out a plan for Iraq’s oil fields, Wall Street has a plan to really clean up now, to really put the class war back in business and get rid of Medicare, get rid of the programs for the poor, and say, “There’s no money for you. We’ve given it all away in the bailouts.” “

    – Economist Michael Hudson, on Democracy Now! July 22nd
    Full-transcript and audio at

    “And the Republicans are appealing to folks that are very upset by the economic situation, don’t know who to be angry at. In the American way, they get angry at the government. It’s a little bit amazing, if you take a step back. The overwhelming majority of people who’ve lost our jobs in this crisis have been fired by private employers. The overwhelming majority of people who have been thrown out of their homes have been—have had that happen because a private bank has gone to court to get that to happen. And yet, the American people have this tendency, built into our culture, to leap right over the person who’s actually done you the damage and to blame the government. And so, the government, in general, and the particular government of Mr. Obama, is the target, and the Republicans are playing on this. And that’s their ploy.”

    – Economist Richard Wolff, Democracy Now!, July 28th