Friday, September 02, 2011

On Paul O'Neill

I had been meaning to read the book Paul O'Neill did (with Ron Susskind of the Journal) about his time as Secretary of the Treasury under W.  Entitled the Price of Loyalty, it came out in 2004 and sold a bunch of copies then. I finally found a copy not long ago, and am now hoovering it up. It's a good, if depressing book.

O'Neill tells of how he came into the Bush administration together with relatively rational moderates like Christine Todd Whitman and Colin Powell, and was marginalized by ideologues Cheney, Rove, and welterweight economics advisor Larry Lindsey from day 1. On the economy and taxes, Bush rode into office on his overwhelming mandate of hanging chads and Antonin Scalia having promised to lower taxes and take advantage of a phantasmagorical $5 trillion projected surplus by cutting taxes, and pushed forward with the unqualified tax cuts which have proven to be one of the single greatest policy mistakes of our lifetimes, over the reservations of O'Neill and Greenspan, who advised that taxes be cut only if certain fiscal triggers were tripped. Then, in the first meeting of his National Security Council, Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney showed up with a hard-on for regime change in Iraq and, shortly thereafter still in early 2001, memoranda circulated about who might be buyers of Iraqi oil assets.  Hmmm.

In any case, more later.  Good book.  I like Paul O'Neill. If there were still more Republicans like him, our lives would be less painful.  Obama should figure out a way to bring him and Powell into his pantheon of advisors if not his administration.

No comments: