Political Animal


September 14, 2011 2:15 PM Remember ‘deficits don’t matter’? Cheney doesn’t

By Steve Benen

Dick Cheney chatted with Rush Limbaugh this week, and wouldn’t you know it, the disgraced former vice president has decided that deficits matter after all.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney was “embarrassed” when the U.S. credit rating was downgraded in August, and he hopes that the development will compel lawmakers to continue to work to address the deficit. […]

“Now, these last few months have been pretty messy,” said Cheney. “I think like a lot of people I was embarrassed when they lowered our credit rating from AAA to AA. I literally felt embarrassed for my country.”

“But I also think that the fact that we’ve gotten to this point where we are faced with a crisis in terms of the debt problem, that that’s going to give those of us who want to address that issue and fix it the leverage that we haven’t had up until now, in terms of insisting on the kinds of policies that will be painful, but in the long run are necessary if we’re going to restore full faith and credit in the United States government.”

Oh, I see. Now he’s concerned about “the debt problem.” Remember that guy who declared “deficits don’t matter”? That was the old Dick Cheney. The new Dick Cheney wants President Obama to act faster to clean up the mess he and George W. Bush left behind.

For lack of a better word, this is … funny. Cheney pushed massive tax breaks for the wealthy, and didn’t even try to pay for them. He pushed for multiple wars, and didn’t even try to pay for them, either. He supported Medicare expansion and No Child Left Behind, and like the rest of his agenda, Cheney just threw the costs onto the national credit card, running up a bill for some future president to pay.

But now he’s worried about the deficit.

Let’s note a few details that Dick Cheney may not be aware of. For example, Cheney inherited a large surplus and turned it into a massive deficit. Cheney took a budget that was on track to eliminate the national debt altogether and instead added nearly $5 trillion to it in just eight years. The day Barack Obama took the oath of office, he found a $1.3 trillion deficit sitting on his desk — a little gift from Cheney and his team.

Maybe someone can explain this chart to Cheney.

This one, too.

If Cheney wants to express a degree of shame for his role in creating this fiscal fiasco, I imagine some Americans would be gracious in accepting his apology. But if he’s not prepared to accept responsibility, maybe he should enjoy a little quiet time rather than whining to Rush Limbaugh about “the debt problem” he created.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • Equal Opportunity Cynic on September 14, 2011 2:28 PM:

    This stuff used to make me really upset. Now it just makes me roll my eyes. Either the US voting public is stupid enough to buy this stuff or not. If the former, we're ****ed too bad for my opinion to matter. If the latter, Cheney is just an evil clown who'll provide comic relief to a dark period in our nation's history. Either way, getting worked up about it won't do me any good.

  • T2 on September 14, 2011 2:32 PM:

    thank god for the Solyndra Scandal, now the GOP House finally has an excuse to impeach Obama.

  • Mark on September 14, 2011 2:32 PM:

    I doubt many will see Cheney's admission that he was "embarrassed for his country" as whining. In fact, a majority will see it as a personal glimpse of Cheney's private thoughts that is vaguely heartwarming and somehow endearing. Dick Cheney is an underestimated actor who would pretty much have to strangle a puppy on live TV in order to get the average room-temperature-IQ voter to see him as he really is, and instead people persist in liking him.

    I remember a poll, sometime in the dying months of the Bush administration, that pointed out more people in Russia had a positive view of Stalin than people in America had a positive view of Cheney. Leaving aside that some of Stalin's decisions may have been misunderstood, the sheer scale of deaths among Russians on Stalin's watch compared with those among Americans on Cheney's watch suggests Cheney should be a great deal more popular in America than Stalin was in Russia. That notwithstanding, it's hard to find someone willing to say under the international spotlight that Cheney is a loathsome, manipulative monster, and some media figures are downright reverent when they speak of or with him.

    Americans are justifiably proud of their ability to forgive and move on, and generally don't hold a grudge unless it's against a Democrat. But maybe they should revisit that policy.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on September 14, 2011 2:33 PM:

    This is the issue that pisses me off more than anything (except perhaps letting go the fact Republican IDEAS were the cause of the Great Recession).

    You can show that CBPP graph to 10 wingnuts, and you know what their response will be? Here it is:

    "Hahahahahahahaha. CBPP is a Socialist, left wing, lying fact creator. You expect us to buy that crap?"

    That's right, they dismiss it. I know. I've tried. Down the rabbit hole folks.

    And now Cheney. No physical punishment would suffice to bring justice to that piece of shit.

  • Josef K on September 14, 2011 2:34 PM:

    But if he’s not prepared to accept responsibility, maybe he should enjoy a little quiet time rather than whining to Rush Limbaugh about “the debt problem” he created.

    This is the guy who, quite literally, has no heartbeat anymore. Why should anyone expect him to take 'responsibility' for anything? He's clearly beyond the judgment of even Death itself.

  • Lance on September 14, 2011 2:38 PM:

    Steve, of course Cheney want Obama to FIX the economy/defict faster.

    Because the Republicans only know how to break their toys. If they win in 2012 with a bad economy they won't have anything to play with.

  • Jeff T on September 14, 2011 2:41 PM:

    It's actually AA+, but details don't matter much to Dick.

  • sick-n-effn-tired. on September 14, 2011 2:41 PM:

    God Damn Dick Cheney's shit filled soul to hell.
    You too Rush.

  • vtr on September 14, 2011 2:45 PM:

    When was the last time you heard Cheney say anything you thought he himself actually believed?

  • bam on September 14, 2011 3:07 PM:

    Imagine the reaction if it had been Michelle Obama who had said she was "embarrassed for her country" due to the downgrade. Actually, let's not.

  • DAY on September 14, 2011 3:21 PM:

    he was on Neil Cavoto yesterday, and said the same thing. Neil ALMOST called him on it.

    Curious, is it not, these folks don't return Rachel's many invitations?

    "roblesse action"
    this is a repeat of a capcha this morning. Is the well running dry?
    Pray harder, c u n d gulag. . . .

  • Goldilocks on September 14, 2011 3:54 PM:

    KEEP AMERICA SAFE - from the Cheneys in our midst.

  • Goldilocks on September 14, 2011 4:13 PM:

    Yes, Cheney has no heartbeat (assuming he ever had a heart) and has to be plugged into the wall at night. What if there's a power outage?

    I mean, seriously, whose side is God really on?

  • Mitch on September 14, 2011 6:06 PM:

    @Josef K

    "...Republicans are the ones looking less unified...”

    I think both parties are undergoing unity issues right now, just in different ways. Sure, on the left we have the Blue Dogs and an inability to do things even when we have a majority ('09-'10); but the Repugs have their three philosophical camps (theocrats, libertarians and plutocrats) who make up an interesting bunch for sure.

    One of the biggest unity problems that I see on the Left is our inability to function without a filibuster-proof majority (which we have not had), whereas the Right seems to be able to run the show no matter how many bodies they have in the House or Senate. Our other major problem is that we have no unified party message, and we tolerate party members who deviate from the party line.

    The Republicans, however, are able to work together with more unity and do not often deviate from the ruling Repug meme of the day. It appears much more common for a Democrat to vote against his/her party than for a Republican to do the same.

    From an ethical/philosophical point of view, it's a good thing that Dems are so across-the-board. We truly are a more varied and "democratic" political party, simply because we do approve of dissension and individual viewpoints much more than Republicans. From a political perspective, out brand of disorganization makes it VERY difficult for Dems to accomplish anything these days.

    The Republicans have a more serious problem with their three divisions. Theocrats, Libertarians and Oligarchs are able to overlap their philosophies quite a bit, but it's more of a case of each side using the other to achieve their goals.

    Theocrats want a Christian Nation and think they could have it under a "smaller government" - since Uncle Sam wouldn't stop them from being bigots. Many theocratic voters do not trust Big Business and do not buy into the "Greed is Good" mantra, but as long as the plutocrats in the GOP praise Jesus, the zealots are okay with them.

    The Libertarians are daydreaming idealists who are totally unconnected to reality. Just as much as any Bible Thumper. Their faith in Individualism and Limited Government is in some ways the heart of modern conservativism. They clash with the theocrats sometimes (since many libertarians are very much against theocracy), but are generally loved by the plutocrats - since they all want the government out of the way.

    The Plutocrats just want money. They are not bound to the Libertarian philosophy of small government (quite the contrary, if they can make money out of the deal then they adore Big Government) and they view the Theocrats as the easily-led rubes who supply the party with votes.

    It is the tension between these three types of Conservatives that has led to the birth of the Tea Party faction (mostly Theocrats and Libertarians, especially the uneducated ones) which is known to butt heads against the more pragmatic Plutocrat crowd. Of course plenty of Plutocrats support the Tea Party, since it's full of passionate, easily led, voters.

    So, yeah, I think that both parties are undergoing Identity Crises at this point; but in different ways. And unfortunately the Republicans still manage to vote lock-step most of the time, even with their divided Party; Dems, however, seem much more likely to flounder and less able to work together to achieve legislative goals.

  • jcricket on September 14, 2011 10:45 PM:

    Cheney doesn't have enough humility or sense of shame to feel embarrassment or even know what it is. He is one of the walking dead who are feeding off of the energy of the living.

    He smells of rot.

  • Snarki, child of Loki on September 15, 2011 12:34 AM:

    Yeah, and Cheney would get all bothered by the incivility of people telling him to "go f*ck himself".

    But that's exactly what he should do. With a Predator drone. Sideways.