“We’re at war,” Biden told congressional leaders of both parties during their sit-down with Barack Obama in the Capitol, according to two sources familiar with the exchange.
It’s not the first time the vice-president-elect has used stark language to underscore the perilous state of the economy. In an interview last month on ABC’s “This Week,” Biden said that a stimulus package was needed to keep the economy from “absolutely tanking.”
Biden spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander said Biden “was speaking of how after September 11th, that the Congress came together and worked together for the sake of the country, that the Congress worked day and night to accomplish what was necessary. We did it then and we can do it now.”
Biden’s grim warning came as Obama began a public push for quick passage of a massive economic growth package in meetings with congressional leaders and his economic team.
Obama told reporters that he wanted a bill on his desk by the first of February – at the latest.
Republicans pressed Obama in their afternoon meeting to make what is anticipated to be upwards of an $800 billion package as transparent as possible and to hold public hearings on the measure before passage.
House Minority Leader John Boehner cited public unhappiness with how last fall’s financial bail-out package was quickly passed through Congress and how little accountability there has been for the TARP money since then.
Obama told Boehner he agreed, and said he would demand complete transparency and accountability in putting together the package, according to a source familiar with the discussion.
Obama’s incoming chief of staff Rahm Emanuel – himself a former member of the House Democratic leadership – said that not only would they put the eventual bill on the internet, but that they planned to create a Google-like search function that would display what exactly was being funded by the stimulus package and what it aimed to accomplish.