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Paul O`Neill Exposes White House Workings
Former Treasurer Secretary tells it like it is in the Bush White House.
The Center for American Progress has published a summary of the new book featuring former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill which reveals what has really been going on inside the White House policy formation process. Here is the article:
O'Neill's Straight Shooting
According to former Bush Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, "ideology and electoral politics so dominated the domestic-policy process [in the White House] that it was often impossible to have a rational exchange of ideas." O'Neill said he, along with former EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman and Secretary of State Colin Powell – who shared his non-ideological approach – "were used for window dressing." O'Neill criticized the President for "signing onto strong ideological positions that had not been fully thought through." White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan lashed out at O'Neill saying, "it appears that the world according to Mr. O'Neill is more about trying to justify his own opinion than looking at the reality of the results." But the President has articulated a different assessment of O'Neill's integrity. Announcing his nomination in December 20, 2000, President Bush said that when Paul O'Neill speaks, he "speaks with authority and conviction and knowledge." A month later, at his swearing in, the President said O'Neill "has earned a reputation as a straight shooter."
DISHONEST DEFICIT POSITION: O'Neill opposed the second round of Bush tax cuts because he believed "a fiscal crisis was looming and more tax cuts would exacerbate it." When O'Neill presented his concerns to Vice President Cheney, he was cut off. Cheney told him that "Reagan proved deficits don't matter. We won the midterms. This is our due." This is a very different position on deficits than Cheney has expressed publicly. On September 13, 2003, Cheney told Tim Russert on Meet the Press: "I am a deficit hawk. So is the President." Cheney added that "without question, we've got to make choices, we've got to have fiscal discipline on the rest of the budget."
DISHONEST TAX CUT RATIONALE: President Bush has been quick to say that his tax cuts are not unfairly skewed towards the wealthiest Americans. But according to O'Neill, behind closed doors the President admitted the opposite. When advisers presented the President with the tax cut (a plan that disproportionately benefits the wealthy), Bush said, "Haven't we already given money to rich people? This second tax cut's gonna do it again." The President added, "shouldn't we be giving money to the middle?" But, according to O'Neill, Karl Rove just kept repeating "Stick to principle. Stick to principle," and the mantra eventually won Bush over. Nevertheless, when Bush presented the tax cut proposal on January 7, 2003, he presented it as a tonic for the middle class. He said we "know that middle-income families need additional relief" from taxes in order to help them deal with "living paycheck-to-paycheck and never getting a chance to save for their children's education or their own retirement."
DISHONEST WAR RATIONALE: The plan to oust Saddam Hussein, according to O'Neill, was underway long before 9/11. O'Neill said that from the first day the President took office "we were building the case against Hussein and looking at how we could take him out and change Iraq into a new country, and, if we did that, it would solve everything. It was about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The President saying, 'Fine. Go find me a way to do this' " Publicly, however, the President said that the Iraq war was prompted mainly because of 9/11. In a press conference shortly before the attack he said, "September the 11th changed the strategic thinking, at least, as far as I was concerned, for how to protect our country....It used to be that we could think that you could contain a person like Saddam Hussein, that oceans would protect us from his type of terror. September the 11th should say to the American people that we're now a battlefield, that weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a terrorist organization could be deployed here at home."
WEAK ON CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY: After Enron and other corporate scandals rose corporate governance to the forefront of the national policy debate "O'Neill and Greenspan devised a plan to make CEOs accountable." But, O'Neill reports, "Bush went with a more modest plan because 'the corporate crowd' complained loudly and Bush could not buck that constituency." The President, however, touted his reform package as tough on corporations, saying, "America is ushering in a responsibility era...and this new culture must include a renewed sense of corporate responsibility. If you lead a corporation, you have a responsibility to serve your shareholders, to be honest with your employees."
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