WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration issued a scathing response on Monday to criticism from former Vice President Dick Cheney, calling him part of a "Republican cabal" and saying his economic advice should be ignored.

The White House has already pegged Rush Limbaugh as the leader of the Republican Party, so who does that make No. 2 in the GOP? Why, Dick Cheney, of course.

That was the essence of the sarcastic remark President Obama's press secretary offered Monday when he was asked to respond to criticism from the former vice president.

Cheney, interviewed Sunday on CNN, said Obama was making the U.S. less safe by reversing Bush administration policies toward terror suspects.

"He is making some choices that, in my mind, will, in fact, raise the risk to the American people of another attack," Cheney, in Sunday's interview, said of Obama.

Gibbs defended Obama, saying he is keeping the nation safe while dealing with problems George W. Bush's administration did not.

"Well, I guess Rush Limbaugh was busy," Gibbs said to laughter during his daily briefing with reporters. "So they trotted out the next most popular member of the Republican cabal."

In response to Cheney's suggestion that the White House is trying to take advantage of the economic crisis to expand government, Gibbs said, "I think not taking economic advice from Dick Cheney would be maybe the best possible outcome of yesterday's interview."

Since becoming president, Obama has ordered the closing of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and banned certain methods of interrogation for suspected terrorists.

"The president has made quite clear that keeping the American people safe and secure is the most serious job that he has each and every day," Gibbs said in defending Obama's decisions.

The press secretary said his sarcasm shouldn't mask the serious policy differences between Obama and the Bush-Cheney team.