Politics

Cheney Acknowledges Passing The Buck On GM: Bush Didn’t ‘Want To Be The One Who Pulled The Plug’

Last night on Fox News, Vice President Cheney admitted that the Bush administration deliberately decided to pass the buck on GM and let President Obama deal with the problem. Cheney admitted that he thought the “right outcome was going to be bankruptcy,” but that President Bush didn’t want to “be the one who pulled the plug.” Instead, the Bush administration put together a costly auto bailout to stem the tide until President Obama took office:

CHENEY: Well, I thought that, eventually, the right outcome was going to be bankruptcy. … And the president decided that he did not want to be the one who pulled the plug just before he left office.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why?

CHENEY: Well, I think he felt, you know, these are big issues and he wouldn’t be there through the process of managing it, but in effect, would have sort of pulled the plug on GM and that was one of the first crises the new administration would have to deal with. So he put together a package that tided GM over until the new administration had a chance to look at it, decide what they wanted to do.

VAN SUSTEREN: But it’s cost us billions to get — I mean, you know —

CHENEY: It has. … And now the government owns a big chunk of General Motors. That bothers me. I don’t like having government own those kinds of major financial enterprises. I think it’s — it does damage to our long-term economic prospects when we get government involved in making those kinds of decisions.

Watch it:

When announcing his $17.4 billion auto bailout in December 2008, Bush said that “bankruptcy now would lead to a disorderly liquidation of American auto companies.” Cheney is now saying that they were thinking about bankruptcy all along, but instead used billions of dollars of taxpayer money to push their problems onto the Obama administration.

Even former Republican senator Rick Santorum last week went on Greta’s show and chastised the Bush administration, saying that officials “blew it” for punting the problems onto Obama:

SANTORUM: President Bush blew it. You know, he went out and convinced the Congress to give him a bunch of money to save the financial sector and then decided to take a little piece of that and give it to General Motors and Chrysler. Why? He punted. He basically said, I don’t want this failure to be on my watch. I want to let Obama deal with it. And we all knew at the time that letting Obama deal with it means the government’s going to come in and run the show, and that’s exactly what’s happened.

Of course, even though Obama has managed to prevent a “disorderly liquidation of American auto companies,” it isn’t good enough for Cheney. Of course, Cheney offered no alternative vision during last night’s interview.

Transcript:

VAN SUSTEREN: On last question is on GM. We’ve spent an awful lot of money since last fall on GM to only have them end up in bankruptcy. Going back to last fall, would you have let them go into — or would you have pushed them into bankruptcy, do you think then, I mean, now that we’ve spent billions, or did you think that it was sort of a good idea to do what we’ve been doing?

CHENEY: Well, I thought that, eventually, the right outcome was going to be bankruptcy. They had to go through such a dramatic restructuring to have any chance of survival that they had to be able to renegotiate labor contracts, and so forth. And the president decided that he did not want to be the one who pulled the plug just before he left office.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why?

CHENEY: Well, I think he felt, you know, these are big issues and he wouldn’t be there through the process of managing it, but in effect, would have sort of pulled the plug on GM and that was one of the first crises the new administration would have to deal with. So he put together a package that tided GM over until the new administration had a chance to look at it, decide what they wanted to do.

VAN SUSTEREN: But it’s cost us billions to get — I mean, you know —

CHENEY: It has.

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean —

CHENEY: And now the government —

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, and we’ve now spent billions.

CHENEY: And now the government owns a big chunk of General Motors. That bothers me. I don’t like having government own those kinds of major financial enterprises. I think it’s — it does damage to our long-term economic prospects when we get government involved in making those kinds of decisions.

The private sector then I think will be very different, function differently, if it’s full of government-owned enterprises, than would otherwise be the case.