Ex-Bush official: Those who would block debt hike are like al Qaeda

Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill compared lawmakers trying to block raising the debt ceiling to "al Qaeda terrorists."

"The people who are threatening not to pass the debt ceiling are our version of al Qaeda terrorists. Really," O’Neill, Treasury secretary in the Republican administration of George W. Bush, said Wednesday in an interview with Bloomberg Television's InBusiness with Margaret Brennan.

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"They're really putting our whole society at risk by threatening to round up 50 percent of the members of the Congress, who are loony, who would put our credit at risk," O’Neill said.

His remarks come just a day after Obama administration Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner slammed recent discussions over whether or not to raise the debt ceiling as "ridiculous" and "irresponsible."

Both O'Neill's and Geithner's comments are in response to House Republicans who have recently threatened to vote to raise the debt ceiling only if that also means passing certain other deficit-reduction proposals.

In the same interview, O'Neill said the debt-ceiling debate is a symptom of a broken political system.

"I do believe we have a broken political system that is capable of doing irresponsible things," O'Neill said. "This whole conversation is irresponsible."