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Cheney: Tea Party Finally Gave GOP Backbone

The Tea Party had a significant impact on putting “some spine” into the backs of Congressional Republicans during the debt ceiling debate, former Vice President Dick Cheney told Larry Kudlow Wednesday.

The threat to not raise the debt ceiling was controversial, he said, but it was effectively used to force the Obama administration to sign onto some significant reduction measures.

Republicans advocate bringing the deficit under control by reducing spending and what they see as excessive government programs, while Democrats advocate some spending cuts along with revenue increase in the form of higher taxes.

“I don’t think we would have gotten as far as we have without them sort of holding the feet to the fire of members of Congress,” Cheney said.

However, he said he’s not totally happy with the package approved and is concerned about the defense budget getting cut if the special joint congressional committee can’t agree on another $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction. But he called it a start.

Cheney on the Economy

Cheney also told Kudlow he’s worried about the economy, and doesn’t think the Obama administration is stepping up to the plate.

“We have to put in place policies that stimulate growth, stimulate expansion, job creation, the private sector and at the same time get a handle on entitlement spending in the federal government,” he said.

That means the regulatory burden on businesses has to be reduced and the tax policy has to be seriously looked at, Cheney said. He thinks corporate America is still concerned President Obama will increase taxes.

Cheney also said the blame game should come to an end. While he conceded that perhaps the Bush administration’s fiscal policies could have been tighter and more disciplined, he said they were faced with some “unique situations” such as the 9/11 terror attacks.

But now, he said, Obama has been in office three years.

“Sooner or later it becomes your economy,” Cheney said, “and I think we’re to that point now.”

In fact, he said, the Obama administration has added as much to the debt in two and a half years as the Bush administration did in eight years. He called the administrations lack of discipline in spending is the “worst we’ve seen.”

Cheney on 2012 Elections

So which Republican candidate does Cheney think should take Obama’s place at the White House? The jury’s still out, he said.

The former vice president has not endorsed anyone yet, and told Kudlow the candidates have a lot to show him before he can become enthusiastic about any of them.

“The question is, can we elect an equivalent of Ronald Reagan in 1980, or are we going to get a Jimmy Carter-like figure?” he asked. “We badly need a Ronald Reagan.”

Watch former Vice President Dick Cheney's full interview on "The Kudlow Report" Wednesday, August 31st 7 pm ET

Questions? Comments, send your emails to: lkudlow@kudlow.com