During an interview with Dick Cheney this morning, CNN host John King asked the former vice president why “we should listen to you” for economic advice. To make his case, King noted the following statistical changes that occurred under the Bush/Cheney administration:
Unemployment rate: Rose from 4.2 percent to 7.6 percent
Poverty: Jumped from 32.9 million individuals to 37.3 million
Uninsured: Escalated from 41.2 million individuals to 45.7 million
Budget deficit: Inherited budget surplus of $128 billion and left office with $1.3 trillion deficit
“So what would you say to someone out there watching this who’s saying why should they listen to you?” King asked. Cheney responded that there’s “all kinds of arguments that could be made,” but he emphasized that there is “something more important than” the specific numbers King cited — namely, 9/11.
Cheney argued the Bush administration spent more because it had to go into “wartime mode.” Cheney also referenced the need to spend money after the Katrina disaster:
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.
By Cheney’s logic, the U.S. could no longer care about poverty, the uninsured, or the unemployed after 9/11. Those issues were not deemed “important” enough to address.