THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, we've still got unemployment under 5 percent. We've had steady economic growth. We have not yet had a negative quarter, in terms of negative real growth on GDP. Now before you have a recession, you've got to have two negative quarters back to back. We may be there, but we haven't seen it yet.
RADDATZ: Many and most economists say it's a recession.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: We haven't seen that yet, Martha, but to say that it's the worst since World War II, I just, I disagree. I don't think that's accurate.
RADDATZ: Well, let's talk about recession. I know the administration has avoided using that word; I assume you don't want to announce this morning that it's a recession.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: There's a very technical term by which we define a recession: when you get two quarters of negative growth back to back, that's a recession. We haven't gotten it yet.
RADDATZ: Do you avoid -- is it dangerous to use that word now? Does that shake confidence further? Is there a reason you're avoiding it besides the technical issue?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I think we try to be accurate. And the accurate statement is that we've not yet had two negative quarters back to back. Now it may be that we'll see that when we get the first quarter results in -- that will come in at the end of March, we'll get the preliminaries. I can't say we're not yet there, but I come back again with a proposition to say what we've got to date is the worst economic recession since World War II simply doesn't fit with what I remember as some very, very difficult times in the past.
RADDATZ: How much blame should the administration take for the current down turn, rough patch, recession, whatever you want to call it?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think the first thing to recognize is that there are cycles in the economy. And from time to time, we do have recessions. We've had a very long stretch without a recession, because the policies I think we've put in place with respect to taxes back in 2001 and 2003, when we cut the rate on capital gains and dividends, lowered the rates across the board, reduced taxes on the broad bulk of Americans -- I think all of that helped create and sustain the conditions that produced over four years of sustained economic growth.
Now we're into a period where, obviously, where it looks like we're going to go through a rough patch. Now, is it a recession yet? We don't know yet. But where we will eliminate or work off, if you will, some of the excesses that have developed in the economy in recent years, and lay the foundation for the next expansion -- that's the normal cycle in a private sector economy, an economy such as we have. We do those things that we can. You can't manage it perfectly, but we do those things we can in order to try to minimize the impact, and to try to accelerate the point where we can get good growth again.
RADDATZ: You talk about cycles --
THE VICE PRESIDENT: As I say, with respect to hard times economically is when you have a high rate of unemployment, a lot of people out of work; we don't have that. It's when you have a very high rate of inflation -- we don't have that. It's when you get a long period of time when the economy is contracting instead of expanding -- we don't have that.