John Snow

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John William Snow, a "loyal lieutenant on the White House economic team, has signaled he is ready to resign" his position of Secretary of the Treasury once President George W. Bush "picks a successor," according to Bush administration officials "and people close to Snow." [1]

Speaking on condition of anonymity, these people said that "Snow has made clear to the White House that he eventually intends to return to the private sector." Snow has not discussed his plans publicly and "Bush said he had heard nothing about it." [2]

He is the US governor for the African Development Bank.

Nomination

Snow was nominated by George W. Bush to be the 73rd Secretary of the Treasury on January 13, 2003, and was "unanimously confirmed" by the U.S. Senate on January 30, 2003. Sworn into office on February 3, 2003, Snow replaced Paul O'Neill.[3]

"Snow's job will be to convince the public that deficits don't matter," BusinessWeek reported December 10, 2002. "His role won't be so much to push the merits of Bush's policies on Capitol Hill, where the White House probably has the votes to muscle most of them through without his help. Rather, it will be to calm his fellow corporate execs, who are so skittish about the stock market and the war against Iraq that they're afraid to invest in new capital equipment. If he can settle their nerves, Snow's tenure will be deemed a success. But first, he's going to have to shed whatever Main Street worries he harbors about that deficit."

Profiles

According to his Department of the Treasury bio, "Snow was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CSX Corporation, where he successfully guided the transportation company though a period of tremendous change. During Snow's twenty years at CSX, he led the Corporation to refocus on its core railroad business, dramatically reduce injuries and train accidents, and improve its financial performance.

"Snow's previous public service includes having served at the Department of Transportation as Administrator (1976-77) of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Deputy Undersecretary (1975-76), Assistant Secretary for the Governmental Affairs, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Plans and International Affairs.[4]

"Snow's knowledge of international industry stems from his tenure as Chairman of the Business Roundtable, the foremost business policy group comprised of 250 chief executive officers of the nation's largest companies. During his tenure as Chairman from 1994 through 1996, he played a major role in supporting passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement.[5]

"Snow is also recognized as a leading champion of improved corporate governance practices. He is a former co-chairman of the influential Conference Board's Blue-Ribbon Commission on Public Trust and Private Enterprise. He also served as co-chairman of the National Commission on Financial Institution Reform, Recovery and Enforcement in 1992[-93] that made recommendations following the savings and loan crisis.

"John Snow was born in Toledo, Ohio, on August 2, 1939, and graduated in 1962 from the University of Toledo. He later earned a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Virginia (1965) where he studied under two Nobel Prize winners. Snow graduated with a law degree from the George Washington University in 1967 and then taught economics at the University of Maryland, University of Virginia, as well as law at George Washington. He also served as a Visiting Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in 1977 and a Distinguished Fellow at the Yale School of Management from 1978 until 1980."[6]

CSX Corp

Snow assumed the dual position of chairman and CEO at CSX Corporation in 1991. "He was awarded the Marco Polo Award, the highest honor given to a foreign business leader by the U.S.-China Foundation for International Exchanges, in 2001."[7]

"Snow, 63, joined the railroad in 1977 as vice president of government affairs with the Chessie System, a CSX predecessor, and became president and CEO of CSX Corporation's railroad unit in 1985. He was elected president and CEO of the Corporation four years later, and added the title of chairman in 1991.[8]

"Snow is [or has served as] a director of CarMax, U.S. Steel, Johnson and Johnson, Verizon Communications and Sapient Corporation. He serves [or has served] on the boards of Johns Hopkins University, is Chairman of the Kennedy Center Corporate Fund Board, and the Association of American Railroads and is a member of the Business Council and Business Roundtable."[9]

Controversy

"And the new treasury secretary, what a record we have here! John Snow, chairman of a champion corporate tax-dodger. According to Citizens for Tax Justice, Snow's company, CSX Corp., a railroad, paid no federal income tax at all in three of the past four years. Instead of paying taxes, CSX supplemented its over $1 billion in pretax profits (Los Angeles Times) over the four years with a total of $164 million in tax rebate checks from the federal government. Just the guy we need at Treasury -- makes a profit, pays no taxes and gets tax rebates on the taxes he didn't pay. During the same period, CSX gave Snow $36 million in salary, bonuses, stock and options, and forgave a $24 million loan so he would not lose money along with other shareholders as the company's stock price declined. Lends a whole new meaning to 'Snow job.'

"Snow's appointment also enthused our friends at Public Campaign, who found that under Snow's leadership, CSX became one of the 100 biggest overall campaign contributors from 1989 to the present. 'The company consistently ranked in the top 10 among transportation companies in influence-buying, giving $5.9 million in that period. Republicans got 72 percent of the total.'

"But what a payoff on the investment! A mere $5.9 million in campaign contributions over 13 years and they got $164 million in the last four years in tax rebates without ever paying taxes. I'm telling you, this guy Snow is a genius, and I have perfect faith that as the Bush team moves ahead to cut more taxes for the rich -- because we already have deficit -- fight a $200 billion war and increase defense spending, the books at Treasury will balance nicely."

Source: "An Economic Snow Job" by Molly Ivins published by Common Dreams.

Qualifications

"Fortunately, John Snow is almost overqualified for the job. He combines experience in managing a business with the intellectual credentials of a PhD in economics and a law degree. We (Snow and Alan Reynolds) worked together on Jack Kemp's tax reform commission in 1995; I (Reynolds) was the research director and Snow was a commission member. I (Reynolds) found him extraordinarily insightful and clever, able to communicate and persuade with ample technical skill and a dose of charm. More to the point, John Snow is enthusiastically committed to reforming the tax system to tear down the distortions and disincentives that hobble economic growth. Those who have been skeptical about this appointment are about to be pleasantly surprised."

Source: The President's New Troupe: A Potentially Revitalizing Shake-Up in Bush Economic Team by Alan Reynolds, Cato Institute.

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