- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 19, 2010

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Sunday defended President Obama’s decision to extend tax rates for all Americans as part of wide-ranging interview on key national and international issues.

Mr. Biden said that Mr. Obama still thinks extending the rates for the country’s highest wage-earners is “morally troubling” and that the president broke his 2008 campaign promise on the issue only to help the middle class.

“We couldn’t get it done,” he said in a pre-taped interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We had to make a decision.”

However, Mr. Biden said the president will try over the next two years to end the extensions, which were part of a deal with Republicans that also provides tax credits to businesses and extends jobless benefits to millions of unemployed Americans.

“This compromise was to help people who were drowning,” he said. “There are people out there who cannot afford a Christmas tree, much less gifts.”

He said the legislative package could stimulate the economy by as much as 4 percent and repeated earlier administration warning that delays could result in a so-called “double-dip recession.”

The vice president, who confidently said his years as a U.S. senator make him the administration’s chief Capitol Hill negotiator, also said the president would sign a congressional spending measure even if it includes lawmakers’ pet projects, known as “earmarks.”

He said Mr. Obama would not let allow a presidential veto to jeopardizing the safety on U.S. troops.

Mr. Biden also acknowledged that the posting by WikiLeaks of classified U.S. documents — including diplomatic cables — has damaged foreign relations.

He also said he considers WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange closer to being a “high-tech terrorist” than those involved in the leaking and publication of the Vietnam-era Pentagon Papers — especially if Mr. Assange conspired with the a member of the U.S. military to get information.

Mr. Biden said the Justice Department is looking into the issue but decline further comment.

Of the U.S. plan to remove troops from Afghanistan, Mr. Biden said that a withdrawal next summer would be more than a “token” and that troops will be out of that country completely by 2014, “come hell or high water.”

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