Dem senator compares negotiating with GOP to talks with terrorists

Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez on Friday compared talks with the GOP on extending tax cuts to negotiating with terrorists.

During a press conference on Capitol Hill, Menendez (N.J.) took aim at Republicans for opposing his party's plan to extend the Bush-era tax cuts only for the middle class, accusing them of holding the cuts "hostage." Asked about the possibility of compromising with the GOP, the senator sounded bearish, to say the least.

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“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?" he asked. "It’s almost like the question of do you negotiate with terrorists."

Menendez's comments voice the growing frustration among Democrats over what to do with the expiring cuts.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) scheduled votes this weekend on two tax proposals that are expected to fall short of the 60 votes necessary to break a potential GOP filibuster.

Republicans want to permanently extend the cuts for the middle-class and families earning more than $250,000 per year and individuals making above $200,000 a year. The White House is currently in talks with members of both political parties to forge a compromise, but the White House warned yesterday rumors that a deal is close is "premature."


Both sides are facing pressure from their bases not to cave on their positions, following an election when Republicans took control of the House and gained six seats in the Senate.

Menendez spokesman Afshin Mohamadi told ABC News that Republicans who pounced on the senator's comment have taken them out of context.

"Not surprisingly, Republicans would take a comment out of context in order to change the subject from their millionaires-first tax plan,” he said. "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."