Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) slammed the conservative wing of the Republican Party as "a small group of absolutists" and "extremists" who are ignoring history "if they ever knew it."
"You know, the Chinese are looking at us right now and they are just gleeful and incredulous at the way in which one of their great competitors is imploding in itself, and it's happening because a small group of absolutists, of extremists, who don't understand the implications even of what they're doing, are prepared to hold the nation's entire economy hostage," Kerry said Friday on MSNBC.
"I mean they're acting as if they think they're the only ones that understand that America has a debt problem," Kerry continued.
Kerry said conservative House Republicans were coming into debt-ceiling negotiations with a large amount of "absolutism."
"They have forgotten history if they ever knew it," Kerry said. "They're forgetting that we did this at a time and created the greatest wealth in American history and we didn't savage those things that are going to produce the jobs of the future of America. What I'm afraid they're doing is coming in with such zeal and absolutism, they're going to eat American's seed corn with some of these cuts."
He also said House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was negotiating more with conservative Republicans than Democrats to keep his Speakership.
"And Speaker Boehner is negotiating, not with Democrats, but he's negotiating within his own party in order to be able to basically hold on to the leadership and satisfy that fringe," Kerry said.
On Friday Boehner modified his debt-ceiling increase proposal with provisions for a balanced-budget amendment (which conservative House Republicans had been calling for) in order to win support in his caucus. On Thursday his bill failed to win enough Republican votes to pass the House.
Besides Kerry, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) also used the word "absolutist" in charging that conservative Republicans had had a negative effect in debt-ceiling increase negotiations.
"You have folks who are so black-and-white, who are so absolutist, that we are in a process now where we are on the brink,” Murkowski told Bloomberg News on Friday.