On CBS’ Face The Nation this morning, host Bob Schieffer asked Vice President Cheney whether Americans were “better off now than we were eight years ago.” “I think we’ve done some very good things in the course of the last eight years,” replied Cheney.
After listing off policies that he claimed were accomplishments, such as No Child Left Behind, Cheney acknowledged that the Bush administration was leaving the incoming Obama administration “with their hands full.” But Cheney was unwilling to admit any real culpability for the challenges Obama will face, saying only that they are a “new set of problems.” Cheney even claimed that the turmoil in the financial sector “developed” only “over the last six months”:
CHENEY: That there’s no question about what the new administration, President Obama, are going to have their hands full with the new set of problems, if you will. Centered especially on the economy, upon the difficulties that have developed in the financial markets over the last six months.
By saying that the financial crisis “developed” in just the past six months, Cheney is following in the footsteps of right-wingers like Rush Limbaugh, who claim that the problems only began recently. But the truth is that the financial sector’s problems developed over many years and were pushed forward by the economic policies of the Bush administration. The New York Times wrote recently:
From his earliest days in office, Mr. Bush paired his belief that Americans do best when they own their own home with his conviction that markets do best when let alone. […]
As early as 2006, top advisers to Mr. Bush dismissed warnings from people inside and outside the White House that housing prices were inflated and that a foreclosure crisis was looming. And when the economy deteriorated, Mr. Bush and his team misdiagnosed the reasons and scope of the downturn; as recently as February, for example, Mr. Bush was still calling it a “rough patch.”
As CAP’s Tim Westrich has noted, the “root cause of the financial mess is the hands-off approach towards mortgage and finance markets by the Bush administration, and its lack of action when a disaster was imminent.” But instead of taking responsibility for the challenges that President-elect Obama will inherit, Cheney simply shrugged his shoulders and claimed that “each administration has its challenges.”
SCHIFFER: I guess I’d ask you the question that Ronald Reagan used to ask. Are we better off now than we were 8 years ago?
CHENEY: Well, I think we’ve got, I think we’ve done some very good things in the course of the last eight years. Defending the country against further terrorist attacks like 9/11 I think’s a major accomplishment, for example. I think we made progress on education with No Child Left Behind and prescription drug benefits for seniors and so forth. I can point to tax policies, a series of policies and actions that were put in place that were significant progress. That there’s no question about what the new administration, President Obama, are going to have their hands full with the new set of problems, if you will. Centered especially on the economy, upon the difficulties that have developed in the financial markets over the last six months. Just as our task when we came in was ultimately to deal with the aftermath of 9/11. And we had to take on the global war on terror. So, each administration has its challenges. The Obama administration certainly has theirs.
“I would absolutely do it again,” Cheney said following questions about warrantless wiretapping, the Guantanamo Bay prison and harsh interrogation techniques.