Sunday, March 15, 2009

Cheney Unapologetic in CNN Interview: Transcript (3-15-09)

This man should be on trial not appearing on some news program. Read the Full Transcript. Excerpt below:

KING: There are people I assume watching this interview right now, and people in this town who would say, why should we listen to you? And they would say that because of the context of the Bush administration numbers.

They would say, you know, what did you do when you were in charge?

And they have some numbers to back up their case. And I want to show some to our viewers When you came to office, the unemployment rate in the country was 4.2 percent, when you left it was 7.6 percent.

The number of Americans in poverty when you arrived, just under 33 million, over 37 million when you left. The number without health insurance, a little over 41 million when you came, over 45 million approaching 46 million when you left.

And you came with a budget surplus of $128 billion and in the final year, the budget deficit was a record $1.3 trillion. So what would you say to someone out there watching this who is saying, why should they listen to you?

CHENEY: Well, there are all kinds of arguments to be made on that point. But there's something that is more important than the specific numbers you're talking about, and that had to be priority for our administration.

Eight months after we arrived, we had 9/11. We had 3,000 Americans killed one morning by al Qaeda terrorists here in the United States. We immediately had to go into the wartime mode. We ended up with two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some of that is still very active. We had major problems with respect to things like Katrina, for example. All of these things required us to spend money that we had not originally planned to spend, or weren't originally part of the budget.

Stuff happens. And the administration has to be able to respond to that, and we did.

I think it's also -- you talked the unemployment...

KING: But you're a conservative administration, spending more than

$1 trillion.


CHENEY: We always said -- I always said that wartime scenario is cause for an exception in terms of spending. It was appropriate in World War II, certainly, and I think it's appropriate now.

KING: I want you to listen to something one of the president's top economic advisers, Larry Summers, said, at the close of last week, trying to explain to the American people how he thinks we got into this financial mess. Let's listen to Larry Summers.


SUMMERS: This is the paradox at the heart of financial crisis. If, in the last few years, we've seen too much greed and too little fear, too much spending and not enough saving, too much borrowing, and not enough worrying, today, our problem is very different.


KING: Do you accept that analysis of what happened?

CHENEY: No, not really. I think there's no question but what there is an element of concern out there now in the country because of what's happened in the stock market, partly. People with their savings being diminished because of the state of the economy, reluctant to spend, trying to hang on to everything they can, and, naturally, it results in a slower level of economic growth.

A couple of points that need to be made here, John. One is this is a global problem. This isn't something that happened just in the Bush administration or just in the United States. We are in the midst of a worldwide economic period of considerable difficulty here. So I think in terms of trying to assess it and trying to fix it and address it, it's important to understand that. It doesn't do just to go back and say, well, George Bush was president and that is why everything is screwed up, because that is simply not true.

KING: I think some people do go back to that, sir, and say, understanding that. And the Democrats were in charge the last two years of your administration. That's a point that should be made. And you're right, other governments around the world have been caught up in this.

But I think some Americans say, wait a minute, he was the MBA. Dick Cheney was the veteran Washington insider and a CEO who came back into government. How could they have not seen this coming? Was everybody, not just the administration -- I'm not trying to pin this on the Republicans -- but was the White House, everybody in Congress, regardless of party, leaders around the world so caught up in the boom that they had blinders on and didn't see the warning signs?

CHENEY: I think so. I don't recall, you know, sort of a general warning of concern until things started to turn -- turn south on us.

I do remember, and I mentioned earlier, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

As best I can tell, from looking at the evidence, the failure of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was one of the key ingredients that caused the subsequent financial problem and economic recession. We did try, earlier in the administration, to impose reforms on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and we ran into a stone wall on Capitol Hill in the form of the chairmen and -- of the Banking Committee in the House and the Senate, Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. The Democrats absolutely opposed any effort to reform those two institutions, and I think the collapse of those two institutions, as much as anything, contributed to the financial difficulties we've been living with since.

KING: I want to move on to other issues after a break, but before we go to the break, any regrets about the financial bailout package that started in your administration? The Obama administration is building on it. They say they are fixing some things they thought went wrong in the Bush administration, but I know hindsight is easy, but looking back now from outside of the government, was it a mistake? Should you have let the market run its course and let some of those institutions you deemed too big to fail to let them fail? Would that have been a better course than where we are now?

CHENEY: I don't think so. And I think you've got to remember, we were talking here about financial institutions. And the federal government is -- does have the lead responsibility for those financial institutions. That's what the Federal Reserve is part of. That's what the FDIC does. That's what we do with budgets and treasury functions and so forth.

Those financial powers and responsibilities belong to the federal government. If the system is bad, if it freezes up, the only one that can fix that is the federal government. That's different than getting into the industrial sector of the economy or necessarily the housing sector or other parts of the economy.

And I believe, as much as a conservative as I am in limited government, I did believe that with respect to the financial problems we had, when the credit market seized up, only the federal government could address those issues.

Meet The Press Transcript (3-15-09)

On the program the Republican Congressman, Eric Kantor, demonstrates hypocrisy on the budget and the deficits:

REP. CANTOR: David, David, the Republicans will have a plan. We had a stimulus plan. You know, part of the problem with being in the minority is, David, that sometimes your colleagues in the press don't want to cover the ideas that the minority has. We had a plan on the stimulus. It was, it was tailored to small business tax relief. It was focused on what a stimulus plan should be, which is the preservation, protection and creation of jobs. And what we see in this president's budget is, is a lack of that kind of focus. I mean, what we're talking about with him is, is trying to address the energy situation, the health care situation. And you heard Dr. Romer here just today say if we can look long term, these short-term problems will just fix themselves. Well, that's not true. When you sit here and advocate long term, an energy tax and a tax that some have some have said will amount to about $3,000 per household of four, that means everybody that pays an electric bill will have an additional tax, everybody that pays a gas bill will have a tax, everybody that buys anything manufactured in this country will essentially have an $800 per man, woman and child tax. How is that something that will help create jobs in this economy? Again, they're trying to do entirely too much and not focus on the job at hand, which is to get these credit markets working again and have small business create jobs again.

MR. GREGORY: There's a concern about spending in this budget that you and other Republicans have talked about. And yet this was John McCain, the--obviously the standard-bearer of the party, the presidential candidate in 2008. Back in 2007, this is what he said about the Republicans.

(Videotape, May 15, 2007)

SEN. McCAIN: We didn't lose the 2006 election because of the war in Iraq. We lost it because we in Republican Party came to Washington to change government and government changed us. We let spending go out of control. We spent money like a drunken sailor.

(End videotape)

MR. GREGORY: Where was all the concern about fiscal conservatism and reining in spending from you and your Republican colleagues during the Bush years?

REP. CANTOR: Well, well, listen, David, if you're asking could we have done better, absolutely. If you're asking us did we blow it in terms of restoring fiscal sanity into this system, absolutely. But that doesn't give now the Democrats in power in this town to go in and repeat the mistakes that perhaps we may have committed in the past. You know, you look at this budget, how can it be that they claim that they're balancing the budget when they are doubling the debt, when they are increasing the deficit to record levels of a trillion, seven hundred billion dollars this year? How is it that, that that is a fiscally sane plan? We've got to remember...

MR. GREGORY: Did you oppose President Bush's budgets that increased the deficit or the debt?

REP. CANTOR: Well, David, we were in a time where I think the priority then was to make sure that we could deliver the money for our troops. And I joined along with Democrats on, on the other side of the aisle as well as my colleagues on mine to say the most important thing we needed to do at the time was to support the efforts of our military to insure our national security.

MR. GREGORY: So it was OK to, to support deficit spending at wartime, but it's not OK now during an economic crisis, when Warren Buffett calls that the equivalent of Pearl Harbor?

REP. CANTOR: Listen, I, I, I--there is no question that priority one has to be to restore the confidence in this economy, and, and we must do that which we have to do. But when you're talking about the type of budget--and look, look, over the last 50 days we have passed the stimulus bill, we have passed the omnibus spending bill. And it is striking to see the lack of change in that bill, the type of waste and pork barrel spending, the earmarks that exist in that bill. You've got that train from Disneyland to Las Vegas, you have, you know, you have other things like the, the money that goes to remove pig, pig odor.

MR. GREGORY: All right.

REP. CANTOR: I mean, come on.

MR. GREGORY: How many earmarks have you supported...

REP. CANTOR: Well...

MR. GREGORY: the time in Congress?

REP. CANTOR: Well, I mean, I...

MR. GREGORY: Because Democrats provide data saying that you voted for more than 46,000 earmarks. Is that wrong?

REP. CANTOR: Well, in terms of the votes and the budgets in the past, clearly. But I for one, along with our leader, John Boehner, have said we ought to all embrace a moratorium on earmarks so we can get the process working again.

MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.

REP. CANTOR: And we're looking to President Obama. You know, he did promise, he said he'd come to Washington to get rid of the pork barrel spending. We saw him sign the omnibus spending bill without doing anything of the sort. And what I would say to him is we will work hard to sustain his veto if he will, you know, keep--deliver on his promise that he made. We'll work to help sustain his veto on these pork barrel spending bills. And frankly, if he wants to look at some of the things that he's already signed into law, we'll work as well with him to try and rescind some of those expenditures.

MR. GREGORY: But, but isn't the problem in the, in the public's mind, Republicans are calling for things now that they didn't actually do during the Bush years? And you look at some of the polling, here's our recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll: Which party would do a better job of getting the U.S. out of a recession? It's the Democrats that have, by a 48 to 20 percent margin, the advantage in terms of people's confidence. What do you do to change that as the minority party?

REP. CANTOR: Well, I mean, listen, as the minority party, I think part of our job is to be the honest opposition. And we also, I think, are charged with the task of bringing President Obama back to the center. That's what bipartisanship is about and, frankly, that's what the solutions are going to be about going forward. And what we see is very troubling given the last 50 days and the direction of the ideology of this administration and, frankly, of Speaker Pelosi and others in Congress. We've seen the failure of that ideology in the '70s in Great Britain, in the '80s in France. We, we understand in this country, I believe, that we're about free markets, we're about individual freedoms, and that is what our goal is. And when you apply that to the budget that we're going to be discussing over the next couple weeks, we've got a job to do. I mean, because I don't think that the American people are going to embrace this budget. I think you've seen the news reports that the administration now is on an all-out campaign to beef up the support for their budget. If it was a sane budget, I don't think you'd have to have some kind of multitiered campaign plan to get people behind it. It'd sell itself.
- Read the full show transcript