Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Leaving A Thankless Job

Source: Treasury Secretary Snow Resigns

AP White House Correspondent

May 30, 2006, 8:35 AM EDT

WASHINGTON -- Treasury Secretary John Snow has resigned and will be replaced by Goldman Sachs Chairman Henry M. Paulson Jr., a senior administration official said Tuesday, in another chapter of a White House shake-up to revive President Bush's troubled presidency.

Bush was to announce the changes in a White House ceremony later Tuesday.

Snow, the former head of railroad giant CSX Corp. who has a Ph.D. in economics, has been Treasury secretary since February 2003. His departure has been rumored for more than a year.
OK, quick civics lesson for you "out of touch Hollywood liberal elitist" types (and others who napped during high school history): The United States Secretary of the Treasury is the head of the United States Department of the Treasury, concerned with finance and monetary matters, basically what other countries would call a "finance minister". Nominally, the Treasury Secretary has control over tax policy, the budget and budget deficits, and the currency. He also controlled the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, as well as the Secret and Customs Services until the Department of Homeland Security was established.

You can see why this is a thankless job, especially in this administration.

Snow replaced Paul O'Neill who famously fell out of favor with the Bushistas for....doing. His. Job.
A report commissioned in 2002 by O'Neill while Treasury Secretary suggested the United States faced future federal budget deficits of more than US$ 500 billion. The report also suggested that sharp tax increases, massive spending cuts, or both would be unavoidable if the United States were to meet benefit promises to its future generations. The study estimated that closing the budget gap would require the equivalent of an immediate and permanent 66 percent across-the-board income tax increase. The Bush administration left the findings out of the 2004 annual budget report published in February 2003.

O'Neill's private feuds with Bush's tax cut policies as well as his push to investigate al-Qaeda funding coming from the United Arab Emirates led to his resignation in 2002 and replacement with John W. Snow.
Which is why Snow was placed in a thankless position and handled it admirably by disappearing into the woodwork while Bush's Economic Policy Council (again, nominally chaired by the Treasury Secretary, but de facto, by the White House) screwed up again and again. Not to be confused with the President's Council of Economic Advisers or the National Economic Council, the EPC basically makes projections of tax revenues and budget deficits and PowerPoint presentations for Bush to draw circles and arrows on.

There's a joke in there about too many cooks and what a weak broth it hath wrought.

Compare that with Clinton's three Treasury Secretaries: the recently-deceased Lloyd Bentsen, Robert Rubin, and embattled Harvard president Lawrence H. Summers.

Apparently, the Wimp Factor extends to even within its own confines.

The apparent next knothole to appear out of the Treasury woodwork is one Henry M. Paulson Jr., who at least has the bloodlines as chairman of Goldman Sachs (where Rubin was also once chairman, and who failed upward by succeeding John Corzine when he resigned as chairman to run for and capture the Senate seat in New Jersey) to perhaps know how to run an organization of knotheads and splinter factions.

If his hands will be untied. I wooden count on it.

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