Dick Cheney, economist

It is an interesting exercise to read Dick Cheney’s new memoir, In My Time, amid the anti-Wall Street bailout and anti-deficit clamour among many Republicans in Washington and on the campaign trail.

Cheney writes of his support for the the $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP):

“I had long been an advocate of keeping government intervention in the private sector to a minimum. What we were now talking about now was the largest such intervention in the history of the republic, and I was a strong supporter.  […] There was no other option.”

Knowing that Republicans in Congress would hate it, the administration even considered acting unilaterally:

“We briefly contemplated not seeking congressional authority. […] [Federal Reserve Board Chairman] Ben Bernanke made clear, however, that he would feel much more comfortable with congressional approval, so we went to work trying to secure it.”

Cheney goes on to defend the bailout of the banks as a “success.”

As for the Bush-Cheney administration’s contribution to the federal deficit, he writes about the resistance they faced in 2003 when they proposed a $550-billion second round of tax cuts. A few Republicans were worried about the cuts adding to the deficit:

“I have been quoted as saying around this time that ‘deficits don’t matter’ and citing Ronald Reagan to bolster the case, but of course I thought deficits mattered. I just believed that it was important to see them in context, to note that while Ronald Reagan’s dramatic increases in the defense budget and his historic tax cuts did push the deficit from 2.7 percent of the gross domestic product in fiscal year 1980 to 6 percent in fiscal year 1983, his spending on defense helped put the Soviet Union out of business, and his tax cuts helped spur one ofthe longest sustained waves of properity in our history. The result was a peace dividend, increased federal revenues, and, eventually, lower deficits.”

Not much of a Tea Partier, that Cheney.



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