By Cheney's Standards, Bush Should Have Been A One-Term President

January 18, 2011 11:50 am ET — Adam Shah

In an interview on the Today show, former Vice President Dick Cheney said he thought President Obama would be a one-term president because he "got into the business of health care reform, expanding the size of government, expanding the deficit. Those are all weaknesses as I look at Barack Obama." However, by that measure, the Bush/Cheney administration should have been a one-term administration since they increased the deficit and increased the size of the federal government in several ways, including starting two wars, and ushering into law the PATRIOT Act and Medicare coverage for prescription drugs.

When President Bush and Cheney entered into office, the federal budget was in surplus. However, by Fiscal Year 2002 — the first year in which the Bush administration had full control — the budget was in deficit again to the tune of $157.8 billion. By January 7, 2009, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected that, based on spending authorized under the Bush administration, the federal deficit in FY2009 would total $1.2 trillion. The actual federal deficit for FY2009 was $1.4 trillion.

Furthermore, as reported, by the end of Fiscal Year 2008 — the last fiscal year in which Bush was in office for the full year, the national debt had increased by more than $4 trillion, "a 71.9 percent increase on Mr. Bush's watch."

As both the Center for American Progress and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) have noted, the Bush administration decided to prosecute wars in Afghanistan and Iraq while at the same time cutting taxes on the wealthy. That decision accounts for a substantial portion of the deficit.

Moreover, as CBPP notes, the Bush administration's decision to pass a bill giving some prescription drug coverage to senior citizens without finding a way to pay for it is also projected to add hundreds of billions of dollars to the deficit.

The Bush administration also expanded the federal government in less quantifiable ways, including by proposing and supporting the USA PATRIOT Act, which increased the federal government's surveillance powers, and instituting a warrantless wiretapping program.

So, a more accurate way to state what Cheney said might well be: "By Cheney's standards, the Bush administration should never have been re-elected."