Cheney: Don't blame us for economic woes, 'stuff happens'
David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Sunday March 15, 2009

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As the state of the economy has worsened, both political parties have increasingly attempted to lay the blame on each other. Republicans and conservative commentators have begun speaking of an "Obama bear market," while the president himself affirms with increasing bluntness that "my administration has inherited a fiscal disaster."

Former Vice-President Dick Cheney added his voice to the bickering on Sunday, in his first interview since leaving the White House. While acknowledging to CNN's John King that "the economic circumstances that [Obama] inherited are difficult ones," Cheney also insisted, "I don't think you can blame the Bush administration for the creation of those circumstances."

"The notion that you can just sort of throw it off on the prior administration -- that's interesting rhetoric, but I don't think anybody really cares about that," Cheney stated.

Later in the interview, King put up a chart of "The Bush-Cheney Record," showing that between 2001 and 2008 that had been a leap unemployment from 4.2% to 7.6%, substantial increases in the ranks of the poor and the uninsured, and a shift in the federal budget from a yearly surplus of $128 billion to a deficit of $1.3 trillion.

"There are people, I assume, watching this interview right now," King suggested, "and people in this town who would say, 'Why should we listen to you? ... What did you do when you were in charge?'"

In responding, Cheney chose to ignore the employment figures and focus solely on the budget deficits. "There's something that's more important than the specific numbers you're talking about," he told King. "Eight months after we arrived we had 9/11. We had three thousand Americans killed one morning. ... We immediately had to go into wartime mode. ... We had major problems with respect to things like Katrina. ... All of these things required us to spend money."

"Stuff happens," Cheney summarized," and an administration has to be able to respond to that -- and we did."

In addition to ignoring the plight of the poor and unemployed, Cheney also brushed aside most of the other priorities of the Obama administration, charging that "they've taken liberties, if you will, with the arguments" in describing health care reform and action on climate change as essential to long-term economic prosperity.

According to Cheney, the Obama administration is merely "using the current set of economic difficulties to try to justify a massive expansion in the government and much more authority for the government over the private sector."

Cheney's own prescription for resolving the current economic crisis would begin, not surprisingly, with tax cuts for the wealthy. "Given the importance to the country ... of getting the economy back on track, it seems to me an administration does have an obligation to set priorities," he stated. "One of the tools that's most important to doing that is tax policy, and cutting taxes, especially for those who invest and create wealth and create jobs."

This video is from CNN's State of the Union, broadcast Mar. 15, 2009.

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