|The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
October 30, 2006
Interview of the Vice President by Neil Cavuto, Fox News
Mrs. Cheney's Office
9:29 A.M. EST
Q Mr. Vice President, welcome. Always good to have you.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: It's good to see you again, Neil.
Q We have now word of the 100th U.S. serviceman who has died in combat this month. And there's a perception that that is what is taking Americans' minds off what is inarguably a pretty strong economy. Do you agree with that?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, there's no question but what Iraq is very much on everybody's minds. It ought to be. It's a very important problem, of course. And we've got a lot young Americans committed over there doing some very, very difficult things. And unfortunately, obviously, we've lost a number, as well, too. It's one of the toughest things any President ever has to do is to make a decision -- but it's absolutely essential that we get it right in Iraq.
And I think that, in fact, we're on the right course. I think it's the right thing for us to be doing. Now, it's not the only issue I'm sure in this fall's campaign. There are a lot of other issues, too. But I would expect it's one of the important ones.
Q Do you suspect that these insurgent attacks are timed to influence our midterm elections?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That's my belief. I think they are, very, very cognizant of our schedule, if you will. They also -- you've got to remember what the strategy is of the terrorists. They specifically can't beat us in a stand-up fight. They never have. But whether it's al Qaeda or the other elements that are active in Iraq, they are betting on the proposition they can break the will of the American people. They think we won't have the stomach for the fight long-term. Osama bin Laden says as much. He talks about this.
And in fact, their belief is that the same thing will happen here that happened in Beirut in 1983, or Somalia in 1993, when after we lost a number of people, then we packed it in and came home. The thing that's different, of course, is 9/11. And there may have been a time when we'd be safe behind our oceans in the past, but that pretty well went by the boards on 9/11. And since then, we clearly have to be engaged. We've got to be active. We've got to prosecute the global war on terror.
We've been able to defend the country successfully for five years now, have not had other attacks against the U.S., although they've tried. But that's primarily because we've gone on offense. We've put in place some very robust measures here at home to protect the country, as well as taking the fight to the enemy overseas.
Q Do you think, though, that the insurgents are better at these polls than even we are, that they are reading them and seeing frustration growing with the war, and regardless of the good economy, saying, let's keep up the attacks, let's keep up the pressure?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: It's my belief that they're very sensitive of the fact that we've got an election scheduled, and they can get on the websites like anybody else. There isn't anything that's on the Internet that's not accessible to them. They're on it all the time. They're very sophisticated users of it. And I do believe that that's a part of it. I think we've also seen, of course, a higher level of violence because of Ramadan. Traditionally, there's a spike about this time of year in terms of level of activity.
But again, I come back to the proposition, they know that the way they win is if they can, in fact, force America to withdraw on the basis that we aren't going to stay and finish the job, their basic proposition that they can break the will of the American people. That's what they believe. And that's what they're trying to do.
Q Your wife, Mr. Vice President, created a little bit of a stir in an appearance on a rival news network last week, taking exception to the way that network portrayed the economy, the government, that things are going to hell in a hand basket. I'm sort of paraphrasing here. Actually, she was much more to the point that I'm being. What did you think of that?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I thought it was great. We refer to it around the house as the "slapdown." And she was very tough, but she was very accurate and very aggressive. And of course, she was in the business for a while. There was a time on that network when she used to host the show they had on for a long time called "Crossfire," on Sundays for a couple of years. So she spoke her mind, and I thought it was perfectly appropriate.
Q Did she go into that kind of ticked off because she saw this week-long series on -- one day a time -- everything that's bad with America, and she just said, you know what, I'm going to let it rip?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I'm sure she'd seen part of it, but, no, I think she just responded to the moment. But she's pretty tough and pretty aggressive, and that's exactly the way it ought to be. She presented, I though, a very strong case.
Q Did you talk to her prior to her going on?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: No.
Q Did you talk to her afterwards?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I did.
Q What did you tell her?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I told her I thought it was a sterling performance.
Q All right, so the potential CNN analyst job for her is now out the window, I guess. All right.
Let's have a little bit about the economy, an overview, sir. We got indications today consumer spending was up a tenth of a percent, still good, still the smallest increase in almost a year. GDP in the latest quarter up still a respectable 1.6 percent, but it's been going down quarter by quarter. And there are -- some are saying that that is the angst that's being reflected in polls and surveys about the economy. What do you make of that?
Q I think the economy is in great shape, Neil. I look at where we've come when you think that we've had to weather a recession, followed by 9/11 and the aftermath of 9/11, followed by Katrina, one of the worst natural disasters in history. The economy has come through all of that in great shape. We've got all-time record employment -- unemployment down, about 4.6 percent. Real wages and salaries are up. Real income is up across the board. Corporate profits are good. The stock market is at all-time record highs and keeps hitting new highs, day after day after day. I'm hard put to think of how the economy could be much better.
You can find adjustments going on various places in it. Housing is a little soft right now, but I think the economy is in great shape. And I think a lot of that is due to the policies the President and the Republican Congress put in place, specifically the tax cuts we put in. And I think it's very important going forward that we continue those policies if we want a strong, healthy economy.
Q The tax cuts -- that's a very big issue if Democrats take control of Congress. We haven't got a clear answer from a prominent Democrat as to whether they would be shelved, but at the very least, they're not going to be renewed. That seems to be a consensus. What happens then, do you think?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, remember the way the law is written, the cuts that we put in, we cut the rate on capital gains and dividends to 15 percent; we reduced the marriage penalty, increased the child credit, phased out the death tax and so forth, what happens because of the way the Senate rules function is those will automatically go back in, the higher rates will automatically kick back in after a period of time, around 2010 in most cases.
So if Congress does nothing, if they just sit where they are, rates are going up, taxes are going up. In other words, the Democrats, were they to take charge if Charlie Rangel were chairman of the Ways and Means Committee -- Charlie has said there's not a single one of the Bush tax cuts he thinks should be extended. And he could achieve that objective simply by not acting. Unless there's an affirmative action by Congress, legislation passed to keep those rates low, those rates are going back up, and he'd have a massive tax increase. And I think that would do a lot of damage to the economy, to say nothing to the fact that it would probably raise the taxes on the average American family by a couple thousand dollars a year.
Q You mentioned Charlie Rangel, sir. I had him on my show the other day, and he says that what's happening on Wall Street and these records for the Dow is for fat cats. It's the Wall Street rich guys who are enjoying this. This hasn't trickled down. What do you make of that?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I just -- I think Charlie doesn't understand how the economy works and who owns those stocks and those securities that are represented on Wall Street. Fact of the matter is, well over half of all Americans have a stake in that. A lot of people have got it in their pension plans, or if they just own a mutual fund. The health of the economy is reflected in part in the health of the stock market. And everybody benefits when the market is doing well, as it is right now.
Q So why aren't they whooping it up? Why aren't they partying? Why aren't they saying, hey, another record, let's go for it?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I don't know -- maybe they've gotten used to it. But I think the President deserves a lot of credit, and Congress deserves a lot of credit for what we've been able to accomplish for the economy. And we'll talk about it a lot during the campaign.
Q I'd be remiss if I didn't mention a non-economic issue with you, sir, and it concerns torture. And some argue that your words were taken out of context when -- of whether you approved of water boarding, whether you approved of other various torture techniques. Could I get unequivocally from you, your view on water boarding, whether that's appropriate torture?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: My view is I never talk about specific methods. That's all classified. We don't discuss it. We don't talk about it. We don't torture, though. It's very important to make that point. We are parties to international treaties, and any activity the U.S. government is involved in, in this area is consistent with those treaties and those obligations and with the law of the land.
Q So there would be never a moment or a time when you think it is appropriate to go above and beyond traditional ways we treat detainees in order to get information?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I am a strong supporter of having the CIA have authorization to run a special program, which we have done, and which the House has now passed legislation to continue, as has the Senate, that gives them the authority to operate a program that allows us to interrogate people like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, for example, the man who put together the attack on 9/11. I think we need to be able to do that. I think we can do it appropriately. I think we can do it without resorting to torture. But at the same time, it's one of the most valuable sources of information and intelligence we have on the enemy, finding out who they are, where they train, what their plans are. It's one of the reasons we have been able to prevent another attack on the U.S. since 9/11, for five years now. So I'm absolutely a believer in that program. I think the Congress did the right thing in passing it. The President signed it into law. It was part of the Military Commissions legislation that passed just before they adjourned.
One of the intriguing things is Democrats voted overwhelmingly against it; 32 out of 44 Democrats in the Senate voted against it. And in the House, I think it was 162 House Democrats voted no on that legislation when it came up. If they'd their way we wouldn't have the military commissions to try these terrorists, and we wouldn't have the authorization we need to be able to interrogate them effectively.
Q Let me ask you, sir, this weekend, "Death of a President" documentary that purports to show the assassination of President Bush debuted to lousy numbers. But what's interesting in the documentary, Mr. Vice President, is how you're portrayed, that once the President --
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I haven't seen it.
Q Okay, but once -- (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Should I go see it, Neil?
Q No --
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Okay.
Q Let's just leave it at that. What's interesting is how you're portrayed, though. The President is killed and you are on a vindictive witch hunt that takes you across the Middle East -- namely to Syria. Not too good, not too -- I don't know the best way to put it -- complimentary. What do you think of that?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I haven't seen it. I'm reluctant to even comment on it.
Q But does your image in the press and the fact that the way you're parodied, and the way you're looked at in the media in general, does it every bug you? Or does Lynne -- we're in your wife's office now -- ever say, I don't like that at all, they're not being fair to you?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: No, I think the family has adjusted over the years. It goes with the turf. I sometimes listen to Don Imus in the morning. (Laughter.) On the grounds that whatever is going to happen to me during the day, it can't be as bad as what's been said about me first thing in the morning while I'm shaving. You need to have a thick skin in this business. I say what I think and do everything I can to support the President, and do the right thing. I'm pleased to serve.
It's been certainly the highlight of my career to be Vice President. But the only way to be loved and not have some people unhappy is not to do anything. We've been involved in some very tough decisions and had to do some very tough things during our six years now here in office. And with that goes a certain amount of controversy and criticism, and that's fine. I don't have a problem with that.
Q When conservative Republicans, Mr. Vice President, ask who do you admire most, your name always comes out on top. And despite the controversy of the war and everything else, would you ever feel an obligation to respond to their call to run?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I've made it very, very clear; I've said it over and over and over again, I am not a candidate, I won't be a candidate. My tenure is up when this term ends. I'm here to serve George Bush as Vice President. I'm not going to run for President. I think I said the other day, if nominated, I will not run; if elected, I will not serve. I can't be any more definitive than that.
Q What if there was just this push, this clarion push from Republicans, we need someone tough on terror, and the present cast of characters isn't doing it, Mr. Vice President, please?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I think we've got a lot of great candidates out there, a lot of people who are eager to run, and I want to encourage them all to get into the race, and I look forward to supporting the nominee of the Republican Party next --
Q Finally, sir, on the market. You're well-schooled in that area, as well. If I were looking -- and many Americans are looking at how well the stock market has been performing, but you know, I know it can vary day to day, it can have many multiyear swings -- and I wanted to buy an index, buy something that parroted the Dow or the S&P, and hang on to it, what would you tell me?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I'd say invest. I think the evidence is overwhelming that over the long-term the American stock market is a good investment, earns good returns, dependable returns. And I wouldn't say that's the only investment you should have, obviously. I think anybody would urge you to diversify and have other investments, as well, too, don't put it all in one basket, so to speak. But I don't think there's any question that investing in the American economy is a good idea for most people.
Q So given these recent slowing economic stats, you're not worried about a slowdown or a recession that some have envisioned in the second half of next year?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I'm not in the business of making forecasts, but from everything I can see, and the people I talk with, we're optimistic about the economy. I think we'll finish strong in the fourth quarter this year, and I think '07 should be a good year, too.
Q All right. And Democrats, if they take over -- and I know you don't envision that -- they've talked about a windfall profit tax for the oil companies. How do you feel about that?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think the operations, obviously, I support, the things I believe in, in terms of tax policy, keeping taxes as low as possible -- I think the evidence is overwhelming that the kind of policies we've put in place have, in fact, stimulated growth, stimulated more jobs, stimulated the economy and corporate profits, made it possible for people to expand their businesses. And that's all to the good.
It's also, at the same time, that higher level of economic activity generated a lot more revenue for the federal government. We've, in fact, met our objective in terms or reducing the deficit in half three years early.
Now, if you want to start raising taxes, certainly that's a prerogative of governments if they've got the votes for it and if the President is willing to sign it. But whatever it is, when you start loading a tax burden back on the economy you're going to reduce the overall effectiveness and efficiency of the economy and reduce the opportunities for growth.
Q Final question: Can you see a third party candidate emerging and winning the White House?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don't think so. I think we've got a good, strong two-party system, and we may have a third party candidate from time to time -- we've had a fair number of them during my lifetime. They add a certain dynamism to the process, but we haven't -- I wouldn't make the forecast or the prediction that one will ever emerge. Could happen at some point. What we've seen a few times historically is -- the Whigs went out of business and the Republicans emerged, and something like that could, I suppose, happen at some point. But right now I expect -- we've got a good, strong two-party system and that's as it should be.
Q Mr. Vice President, thank you very much.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Neil.
END 9:46 A.M. EST