How the power players do it - by Fortune senior editor at large Patricia Sellers

Buffett likens debt fight to 'nuclear bombs'

October 4, 2013: 11:34 AM ET

Warren Buffett likens the impasse in Washington to nuclear war. Out of this crisis, Americans should learn a great lesson, he says.

FORTUNE -- Fighting about the debt ceiling "ought to be banned as a weapon," says Warren Buffett. "It should be like nuclear bombs: too horrible to use."

"It's deeply immoral," adds Charlie Munger, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA), where Buffett is chairman and CEO. Munger calls the recent U.S. government shutdown "deeply irresponsible" and says, "I think if my Republican friends keep doing this, they're going to pay a terrible price."

While the legendary investing partners have agreed on stock-picking principles for 54 years, they've never been extremely in sync on politics -- Buffett has supported Democrats, while Munger is a Republican. But when I interviewed them Thursday evening, they agreed on the inanity of the current showdown in Washington. And they noted lessons from five years ago, when Congress united to pass the historic bailout bill and stabilize the economy.

"Go back and behave like that," Munger, 89, advises Congress.

Buffett, 83, agrees, hoping that Democrats and Republicans recall the value of cooperating in 2008 -- and learn from the current crisis. "Some good may come out of this," Buffett says. "This may be like after we dropped a couple of atomic bombs. We saw that we didn't want to do it again."

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