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Inside Politics

Cheney calls Kerry 'pessimistic' on economy

'He's even trotted out the old term "misery index"'

Vice President Dick Cheney speaks Monday at the Exposition Center in Henderson, Nevada.
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LAS VEGAS, Nevada (CNN) -- Vice President Dick Cheney sharply criticized Democratic presidential contender John Kerry's economic platform Monday, warning that the Massachusetts senator's proposals would bring back the sluggish economy of the 1970s.

Cheney said Kerry would would raise taxes and put up barriers to trade if elected, and that his "pessimistic outlook" is reminiscent of the Carter administration, when the U.S. economy was crippled by high inflation and an oil embargo.

"Listen to his proposals between now and November, and you'll see a clear pattern," Cheney said.

"Every one of them would increase the power of Washington bureaucrats and increase the size of the government's claim on your paycheck. Americans have seen the mindset before -- in the days of malaise -- and we're not going back."

The speech echoed the Bush-Cheney campaign's recent television ads that blast Kerry as a pessimist in the face of an improving economy.

Cheney said Kerry "doesn't recognize the strengths of our economy, so it's hard to believe he'd know how to make it any stronger."

"As the American people have worked to overcome the challenges of terrorist attacks and recession, he's traveled the country telling workers and entrepreneurs how it reminds him of the Great Depression," Cheney said.

"He's even trotted out the old term 'misery index.' The problem is that by Senator Kerry's definition, things got better during the Carter years, and then got worse during the Reagan-Bush years."

By contrast, he said, President Bush's signature tax cuts have boosted the economy since the recession of 2001, resulting in increased hiring, more productive factories and record home ownership and growth rates.

"We're going to maintain our optimistic pro-growth pro-entrepreneur pro-jobs strategy in Washington, D.C.," Cheney said.

"With the right policies and with the incredible energy and talent of American workers all over this country, we'll keep a good thing going and see even better days in the greatest nation on Earth."

There was no immediate response to the comments from the Kerry campaign.

But in the past, the presumptive Democratic nominee has blamed the Bush administration for a "middle-class squeeze" that has cost many Americans more than the president's tax cuts have saved them.

Job growth has picked up sharply since last summer, but critics point out that the U.S. economy still has shed more jobs during the Bush administration than have been created.

Kerry has said that many of the new jobs pay less than the old ones and that any stimulus the Bush tax cuts created has been applied by running up record budget deficits.

Kerry has proposed tax breaks for companies that create new jobs in the United States and the elimination of tax breaks for companies that move jobs overseas.

He has promised to roll back the Bush tax cuts on the top tax brackets while preserving cuts for middle-class taxpayers. (Kerry Monday: Blasting Bush on scientific research)

The Massachusetts senator has promised to review existing U.S. trade agreements in his first months in office and to push for an increase in the minimum wage to $7 an hour.

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