WASHINGTON (CNN) — Former Vice President Al Gore unleashed some biting words Friday on the Republican-led strategy to defund Obamacare or risk a government shutdown.
“The only phrase that describes it is political terrorism,” he said at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
“Nice global economy you get there,” he continued, imitating what he sees as the GOP position. “It’d be a shame if we had to destroy it. We have a list of demands. If you don’t meet them all by our deadline, we’ll blow up the global economy.”
The Democratic-led Senate voted Friday to strip language from a House bill that funds the government but defunds the federal health care law. The Senate version no longer includes the Obamacare provision, and the bill now goes back to the House. If Congress doesn’t reach a deal by midnight Monday, the so-called non-essential parts of government go into shutdown.
Conservatives say they’re not trying to shut down the government; rather, they say their plan keeps the government afloat. If the measure fails, it’s the Democrats who are voting against it, they say. Many Senate Republicans, however, say the plan is too dangerous.
Gore laid out the legislative process through which the health care law passed in 2010 and referred to the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the law last year. He called conservatives’ strategy “despicable” and “dishonorable,” insisting a government shutdown would have far-reaching effects.
“You want to threaten not only to shut down our government but to blow up the world economy unless we go back and undo what we did according to the processes of our democracy? How dare you,” he said forcefully.
Recalling his experience growing up around and working in politics, Gore said he has a distinct view of how the U.S. political climate has changed over the last six decades.
“Our democracy has been hacked,” he argued, saying the growing influence of special interest money has festered in the country’s “very sick political culture.”
“Most of our elected officials are forced by this system, to spend five hours a day on the telephone raising money or going to cocktail parties and events to raise money from special interests,” he added. “It’s a kabuki routine.”
The former vice president also managed to slip in a veiled swipe against Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican who staged a nearly 22 hour marathon speech on the Senate floor in protest of Obamacare this week.
“Many men and women who I wish were in politics aren’t in politics now. Why would they be? And some who I wish weren’t in Congress are speaking for long stretches of time,” he said, to laughter.