Paul O'Neill, who served as Treasury Secretary during President George W. Bush's first term, has long been known for his bracing candor.
He apparently hasn't lost his edge. In a Bloomberg News interview, O'Neill said lawmakers who are threatening not to raise the federal debt ceiling are the "U.S.' version of al Qaida terrorists." O'Neill is definitely not one for sugarcoating his words, that's for sure.
O'Neill also said he wished the current Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, wouldn't use what O'Neill called "financial engineering" to delay the time when the nation hits the debt ceiling.
That's now supposed to happen in May though Geithner has said that by using various techniques, the U.S. can extend the day of reckoning until July.
O'NEILL: I wish Tim Geithner would say, when we reach the debt ceiling, we reach the debt ceiling, we are not going to do tricks down here at our end of Pennsylvania Ave. The Congress needs to be responsible and adult and take action on the deficit.
The people who are threatening not to pass the debt ceiling are our version of Al-Qaeda terrorists. Really. They're really putting our whole society at risk by threatening to round up 50 percent of the members of the Congress, who are looney, who would put our credit at risk.
INTERVIEWER: So (Speaker John) Boehner not ruling out any kind of debate over lifting the debt ceiling, wrapping that into the budget debate, is seriously a threat. You think he's dangerous.
O'NEILL: I do. Because there's a chance, you know, if you just look at some of the things that people say, "Well, we'll still have enough money to pay the interest on our debt" is beside the point.
This is not about permitting spending in the future. This is permitting us to pay the bills we've already incurred... We do have a broken political system and I think it's capable of doing irresponsible things. This whole conversation is irresponsible.
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