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
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.