Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) vented some of his frustration over the GOP's insistence on extending the Bush tax cuts in their entirety on Friday, saying that the debate between the parties on the issue had grown akin to negotiating with terrorists.
"Do you allow yourself to be held hostage and get something done for the sake of getting something done, when in fact it might be perverse in its ultimate results?" Menendez asked at a press conference on Capitol Hill. "It's almost like the question of do you negotiate with terrorists."
Two critical votes are set to take place on Saturday, after plans to hold them Friday were delayed by a Republican objection late Thursday night. Senate Democrats first plan to vote on a measure passed Thursday by the House that would allow just tax cuts for families making under $250,000 annually to be extended. Should that fail, Democrats have crafted another proposal that would extend the cuts for all families making under $1 million a year. The GOP Senate has maintained that they will only accept a total renewal of the Bush tax cuts for all income earners.
A spokesman for Menendez later attempted to tamp down criticism of the senator's jab, asking critics not to blow his comments out of proportion.
"This shouldn't be taken out of context from the full question and answer," Menendez spokesman Afshin Mohamadi wrote in an e-mail. "The critical point for middle-class Americans remains that Republicans have chosen to jeopardize tax cuts for every middle class family in order to guarantee an average tax cut of $104,000 for each millionaire."
Menendez wasn't the only exasperated Democrat on Friday. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) seemed to imply that the path Republicans were on concerning the matter could lead to some sort of angry "pitchfork"-wielding mob.
"I'm trying to figure out how anyone can keep a straight face and say they are for deficit reduction when they insist on a permanent tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, completely unpaid for," McCaskill said. "If they think it is OK to raise taxes for the embattled middle class because they are going to pout if we don't give more money to millionaires, it really is time for the people of America to take up pitchforks."
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