January 11th, 2009
01:00 PM ET
14 years ago

Cheney: Too soon to declare worst economy

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/11/art.cheneyexclusive.cnn.jpg caption="Vice President Dick Cheney defends his administration's handling of the nation's financial crisis."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Appearing Sunday on the last broadcast of CNN's Late Edition, Vice President Dick Cheney defended the administration's handling of the recession and argued that its premature to call it the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

"I can't say that. I don't think we know that yet. I think certainly if you look at some earlier periods in our history, I remember back in the late '70s when we had a high rate of inflation, stagflation in effect and a high rate of unemployment," Cheney said.

He added, "We've had some difficult times. Is it the worst since World War II? I can't say that. I don't believe the data shows that yet but it is clearly a serious recession."

The vice president also defended the administration against criticism that it has backtracked on its principles by providing hundreds of billions of dollars to the private sector after previously lambasting the involvement of 'big government' in the economy.

"When the financial system is threatened, only the federal government can fix it and that's what we've been doing," he said. "So even though I'm a conservative, I feel very strongly that we did the right thing by getting active and involved when we did."

Cheney said President-elect Barack Obama's proposed $775 billion economic recovery plan should begin with a focus on tax policy.

"Democrats traditionally want to spend more money ... We Republicans more often want to pursue tax policy as the best alternative to promote growth and
to turn around an economic downturn," he said.

He added, "I haven't seen his proposal yet so I can't really judge it, but if I had to make a choice myself I'd say we ought to look at the tax policy
as our first priority."

Asked what advice he may have for his successor, Vice President-elect Joe Biden, Cheney said, "The most important thing that any vice president needs to
know was to understand where it is the president he works for wants him to do. That really will determine everything in terms of the kind of meetings he
attends, the policy issues he gets involved in, the kind of assistance or advice he's asked for by the president and others. It's a very different kind
of a job from being an executive, running a big organization, or being senator."

Some of Cheney's other remarks:

On the conflict in Gaza

"I think we've learned from watching over the years that there's a big difference between what happens at the United Nations in their debates and the facts on the ground in major crises around the world," Cheney said. "A lot needs to be done here. The real tragedy... is what's happening to the Palestinian people. They're innocent bystanders. This is not a struggle between Israel and the Palestinians. It's a struggle where Israel is trying to defend itself against what's been designated by many people as a terrorist organization."

On the war in Afghanistan

"We've made progress in Afghanistan. We overthrew the original Taliban government that was there that had sheltered Osama bin Laden. We've had a constitution written. We've had national elections. We've got a good start on building up the Afghan national army. And so I think we've made significant progress. But we're going to be there for a long time."

On Osama bin Laden still at large

When asked why the administration has been unable to capture of kill Osama bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahiri, the No. 2 al Qaeda leader, the vice president said, "Well, we've got a few days left yet."

"We would like very much to - to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. ... My guess is at this point he's operating in an area that's very difficult, very hard to get to, that he's not an effective leader at this stage. He can't really engage his organization without coming out of whatever hole he's hiding in. And the key thing for us, even if we got bin Laden tomorrow, is to take down his organization. And that's what we've been actively doing."

soundoff (150 Responses)
  1. I love Cheney!

    God, I love that man! Nobody spins a web of lies the way he does!

    January 11, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  2. Bill

    Deferment Dick Cheney has certainly feathered his nest at the expense America. Don't worry, he'll be fine.

    January 11, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  3. Jack Jodell, Minneapolis, MN

    Cheney's lied about everything else the past 8 years, so this MUST be the worst economy since the Great Depression.

    January 11, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  4. Rip Torn

    Dick Cheney could hardly be expected to say much else but the outgoing administration had done all things correct and timely. I suspect historians will be a bit more harsh in their scrutiny of the heavy-handed manner in which many issues/ challenges were approached. I cannot expect to ever think differently about Mr. Cheney being fully responsible for the outing of Valerie Plame's name to the press, and therefore guilty of treason.

    January 11, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  5. Mac

    It bothers me to no end when a political figures say that when the economy goes bad that only government can fix it. The fix? – we are going to go further into debt. Hang onto your shorts people.


    January 11, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  6. Alan

    I don't know about anyone else but I am sick to death of this. Wake up everyone. This is our country. We need to take it back to what is once was before corporations, before the Federal Reserve, before all of the power being in the hands of the rich and those sponsored by the rich. Everyone must do their part to change this nightmare we have created. This cycle of working 9-5 to pay bills that will never go away, interest and debt that will always increase, its not natural. We are being controlled. Pause for a moment and think. Please, for our own integrity, let's look out for one another and fix this! Wake up!!

    January 11, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  7. Mark, B'ham., Al.

    The press will declare it as the worst economy so when Obama benefits from the actions recently taken he gets credit for it. Look at what happened to Bush 41 when Clinton got credit for coming out of the recession and we were already on our way out when Clinton was elected.

    January 11, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  8. Peter (CA)

    Politicians of both sides of the aisle usually cannot be trusted and are often out for themselves.
    This guy takes that to a whole new level. Will he ever admit to any of the multitude of mistakes he and the administration have made?

    January 11, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  9. JF

    Just more proof of this administration living in a FOG ....they will find a way around the obvious EVERY TIME in order to avoid looking ridiculous. Little do they all realize just how much more ridiculous that makes them – it's a never ending cycle !

    January 11, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  10. Chris E

    Please tell me the VP Cheney is living in a real world, How can he say that it is to early to said this is the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, I guess people who have money don't see it as a problem the over what 2 millions peoples if not more have lost their job. Cheney I am glad you are leaving office because you are the one that help JACK UP THE USA.... Get out of OFFICE and TOWN

    January 11, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  11. Al, California

    2009, January – and this guy is not in prison yet...

    January 11, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  12. Nevada Mom

    Suddenly he's reserving his rush to judgement?

    What could Cheney possibly have to say about our economic shape? His selfish and ugly rush to solidify this administration's plans to be "war leaders" cost our nation immeasurably.
    Cheney only cared that Halliburton and friends got their big payola from the government before the people woke up and realized their wallets had been pickpocketed.

    We may not know if this is the worst economy we've seen, but we sure know it took us the worst leaders in our history to get us into this shape.

    January 11, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  13. Dave

    Absolutely clueless...Evil Personified.

    January 11, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  14. Bryan Kirchoff

    There is great temptation to blame the economy on the Bush administration, but some points should be kept in mind:

    1) Ultimately, our economic mess is due to the American people ourselves. We went on a national buying binge (myself included) which conditioned two-thirds of our economy to be dependent on consumer spending – thus, when a shock hits the system (9/11, sudden oil price spikes, etc.), non-essential spending dries up and a huge swath of our economy is primed for contraction.
    As a partial solution, I would urge Americans to up our charitable giving once we are financially sound again. Charities exist to spend their donations, so they will definitely create economic activity; in fact, since they are not subject to taxes, one charitable dollar actually generates more activity than a dollar spent by a regular consumer. Furthermore, that activity will recondition our economy to be built more on essentials, like food, which will be more robust against economic shock. Finally, charities help people get through near-term emergencies, and every poor citizen who can avoid the slippery slope of debt helps the overall economy.
    2) There is a belief that the rich have prospered disproportionately from the Bush administration. While the after tax income of the wealthiest one percent did roughly double under Reagan and Bush the younger, it also roughly doubled under Clinton, even though top end marginal tax rates were 4% higher than under Bush. This evidence suggests that the fortunes of the wealthy have more to do with the global economy than tax rates; after all, those who make most of their income from investments can make money from anywhere in the world, while those who make most of their income from building things can only do so in their local area. The Clinton Administration happened to fall in a historical period where the existential threat of the Soviet Union had disappeared and that of al-Qaeda had not fully developed, making a fairly stable world in which to do business.
    3) Another portion of our economic woe is due simply to resumed world competition – in short, the American dominance of the global economy over the past 60 years was an unnatural period. World War II left us as the only major nation whose industry had not been destroyed and workforce decimated by combat; at some post-war points, we were responsible for nearly 1/4 of the world's output. Russia, China, and India extended our run by choosing initiative-stifling planned economies. Having shed those, the list of things that America can make better (much less cheaper) than the rest of the world grows shorter and shorter. (That is why I have economic doubts about the 'green economy' – China can design and build windmills cheaper than us, as well.) Furthermore, we regularly cite lack of development (i.e. jobs) as a source of global upheaval that threatens us. We are in a difficult position, one that is likely beyond the reach of any president.

    Bryan Kirchoff
    St. Louis

    January 11, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  15. jj

    Clearly this man is one of the worst humans in history. doesnt he remind you of the emperor in star wars , bush jr. being darth vader.

    January 11, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  16. WORD UP!

    CHENEY: Too soon to declare worst vice president

    January 11, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  17. Dave

    Hurt our People.
    Hurt our Families.
    Hurt our Country.
    The legacy of Bush/Cheney...

    January 11, 2009 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  18. Absolutely

    It will be worse under Obama, who is a socialist, leading the nation toward socialism, or even dictatorship, with more and more gonerment's control, speciallly, and less and less freedom for the people of America.

    January 11, 2009 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  19. Ula Nejad Sacramento, Ca

    India's – Enron style corporate fraud hits the wave and wondering if president elect still wears his indian good luck charm given to him as a gift during his campaign. He could use all that magic now.

    January 11, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  20. Wynter

    Hey Dick – your reading from last year's script. That was the "don't say recession" script. Now its "blame the democrats" script. or if your Bush it's "my legacy?" script.

    January 11, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  21. rich

    That man face looks like evil personified.

    January 11, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  22. GERRY


    January 11, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  23. badger

    Still in denial, no wonder we're in this situation. If they could have admitted in August that there were problems, they could have possibly headed off some of the problems that have festered now. Talk about having your head in the sand.

    January 11, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  24. robert

    take this idiot to jail

    January 11, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  25. Dave

    If VP Cheney would(or could) ever tell the truth, this story would be a lot different.
    Everyone in this country KNOWS this is the worst economy since the GREAT DEPRESSION!
    He liked giving money to the big banks and insurance companies, but, I'm sure, he hated to give any to the auto industry, because it would only benefit the 'common' American, and not his rich buddies. He probably has stock in AIG, too!
    Finally, this administration never wanted to catch bin Laden. Then the war wouldn't have dragged on for almost 8 years!

    January 11, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
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