Paul O`Neill on Budget & Economy
Former Treasury Secretary (Pres. Bush Cabinet)
O'Neill skipped the meeting with business leaders--which was a bad sign. Bush heard news behind closed doors was sobering and valuable. Business leaders from all parts of the country and all parts of the economy said sales were dropping and profits weakening. The country was headed into a recession & the Treasury secretary designate had missed an important session on what to do about it.
O’Neill, fired in a shakeup of Bush’s economic team in December 2002, raised objections to a new round of tax cuts and said the president balked at his more aggressive plan to combat corporate crime after a string of accounting scandals because of opposition from “the corporate crowd,” a key constituency.
O’Neill said he tried to warn Vice President Dick Cheney that growing budget deficits-expected to top $500 billion this fiscal year alone-posed a threat to the economy. Cheney cut him off. “You know, Paul, Reagan proved deficits don’t matter,” he said, according to excerpts. Cheney continued: “We won the midterms (congressional elections). This is our due.” A month later, Cheney told the Treasury secretary he was fired.
The vice president’s office had no immediate comment, but John Snow, who replaced O’Neill, insisted that deficits “do matter” to the administration.
Now contrast that with Treasury Secy. O’Neill’s performance before the House tax committee last Tuesday. At one point, [he was asked] how much additional economic growth we might anticipate from the president’s tax plan. Far from jumping at this opportunity, O’Neill evaded the question. “I suppose I could give you something for the record,” he replied, but neglected to do so. In his extensive testimony, O’Neill made the supply-side argument about work incentives only in passing, and was even more diffident about the link between those incentives and faster growth.
O’Neill was quoted last week saying: “We are not pursuing, as often said, a policy of a strong dollar. In my opinion, a strong dollar is the result of a strong economy.“ The comments, which currency markets viewed as a modification of the Clinton administration’s emphasis on a strong dollar, caused the dollar to plummet in value against the euro until the Treasury Department issued a statement denying a change in policy. O’Neill seemed exasperated at how billions of dollars can churn on currency exchange markets based on a strained interpretation of his words.
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Former Bush Administration:
Pres.George W. Bush
Former Clinton Administration: