The Top 11 Quotes From The Debt Ceiling Debate: ‘Suck it up,’ ‘Satan Sandwich,’ and Boehner’s Sigh

Aug 3, 2011 3:53pm

ABC News' Amy Bingham reports:

While the debate over how to raise the debt ceiling was a long and contentious one, it spawned some rather colorful phrases. From being left at the altar to eating Satan sandwiches, lawmakers channeled their frustrations into a steady stream of vivid rhetoric. Here's our top 11 quotes from the debt ceiling debate:

11. President Obama Gets "Left at the Altar"

The president  was visibly frustrated when he announced to the White House press corps July 22 that House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio had walked out of his debt ceiling talks. Obama said the speaker not only left him at the negotiating table, but also did not return his phone calls. “I’ve been left at the altar now a couple of times,” Obama said of being stood up by Boehner.

10. Boehner was "dealing with Jell-O"

Boehner first coined his Jell-O metaphor to describe talks with the White House in mid-July when he told a small group of reporters that “dealing with them the last couple months has been like dealing with Jell-O. Some days it’s firmer than others. Sometimes it’s like they’ve left it out over night.” He said the president kept backing away from the entitlement reforms he had previously agreed to so much that his stance "was Jell-O. It was damn near liquid." After giving up on the White House-led debt talks, Boehner revived his metaphor, saying “dealing with the White House is like dealing with a bowl of Jell-O.”

9. Obama Urged Congress to "Eat Our Peas"

Throughout the debate the president was adamant that Congress stay away from a short-term, debt-ceiling increase such as the one Boehner proposed and that passed the House. “If we think it’s hard now, imagine how these guys are going to be thinking six months from now in the middle of election season,” Obama said July 11, three weeks before the debt deadline. The president then put on his father-in-chief hat and said lawmakers must "pull off the band-aid" and "eat our peas."

8. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Warned Seniors of Having to "Kiss Their Medicare Goodbye"

Pelosi was an outspoken opponent of Boehner’s debt-ceiling bill because, she said, it put Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid at risk. She said that if the bill were to pass, “you can just kiss Medicare goodbye.” Boehner’s bill did pass the House, but was tabled, or set aside, in the Senate and never brought up for a vote.

7. "Raise the Debt Ceilin' " Comic Relief

Amid the shouting and bickering and blame there was one voice that provided a little comic relief to the tension-filled weeks of intense negotiations and partisan politicking. Comedian Remy Munasifi’s “Raise the Debt Ceilin' Rap” became a YouTube sensation with lyrics such as “Renting the cash, inflating the monies, calling up China, ‘Hey, yo, we straight out of $20s.’” Munasifi told ABC’s "TopLine" that bridging the connection between the debt ceiling crisis and a rap song “wasn’t too difficult.” “Old school rap imagery sort of fits in well with spending a lot of money and unfortunately so does Capitol Hill,” he said.

6. Boehner Sticks His Neck Out a Mile

There was no shortage of passion throughout the two-week standoff over raising America’s borrowing authority. Perhaps one of the most raucous moments was during Boehner’s speech on the House floor just before the lower chamber voted on his version of a debt-limit increase, which was doomed to fail in the Senate. “I stuck my neck out a mile!” Boehner shouted, shaking his index finger toward the ceiling. “It is time for the administration and time for our colleagues across the aisle. Put something on the table! Tell us where you are!” he yelled to wild applause, shouts of encouragement and a standing ovation.

5. Rep. Begich Tells Congress to "Suck It Up, Buttercup"

On the House floor Monday Rep. Mark Begich, R-Alaska, said the debt-ceiling compromise was not a perfect bill but, “as my son would say, we’ve just got to suck it up buttercup.” While the bill maintained funding for entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security, Begich said it was still “tough medicine” because it creates a “super-committee” that will have to propose more cuts.

4. Rep. Kucinich Laments That "Honey, I Shrunk the Congress"

On ABC’s TopLine, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, said Tuesday that the “super-committee” created by the debt ceiling increase bill was “anti-democratic” because it reduces the decision-making power of Congress to a small group of seven members. “It’s like honey I shrunk the Congress,” he said.

3. Rep. Cleaver On Eating A "Satan Sandwich"

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., was quick to condemn the debt ceiling compromise, calling it a “Satan sandwich” because "there is nothing inside this sandwich that the major religions of the world would say deals with protection of the poor, the widows, the children. It’s not in here.” The term was picked up in headlines across the country and even prompted ABC’s "TopLine" anchors Amy Walter and Rick Klein to dive into "Satan sandwiches" of their own on air.

2. Pelosi Takes Her Sandwich With a "Side of Satan Fries"

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi agreed with Rep. Cleaver’s “Satan sandwich” metaphor, adding the “Satan sandwich” of a debt ceiling compromise probably comes "with some Satan fries on the side.” But, she said, the devilish agreement was a necessary evil. “Nonetheless, it is something that we have to do,” Pelosi told ABC’s Diane Sawyer Monday before the House voted to pass the bill and raise the debt ceiling.

1. Boehner's Sigh of Relief

After weeks of grueling negotiations and debt talk all-nighters, a deal was finally reached, prompting our No. 1 quote of the debt-ceiling debate: Boehner's resounding sigh of relief. With slightly more than 48 hours until the debt-ceiling default deadline, Boehner emerged smiling from a conference call with his House Republicans July 31 and an ABC News camera caught up with him as he left the Capitol building. After refusing to comment on how his meeting went, Boehner stepped into the elevator, leaned his head against the back wall, closed his eyes and breathed a loud sigh of relief. The House went on to pass a bipartisan debt ceiling increase the next day, followed closely by the Senate's affirmative vote Aug. 2.

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