- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 10, 2002

President Bush's nominee to run the Treasury Department drew praise yesterday for his deft management style and Capitol Hill experience.
John W. Snow, the 63-year old chief executive and chairman of Richmond-based CSX Corp., has been a fixture in Washington during his 22-year tenure at the nation's third-largest railroad. That exposure will help him maneuver through Washington more easily than Bush administration castoff Paul H. O'Neill, observers said.
"This is not some rookie coming to town," said Thomas J. Donohue, president and chief executive of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Mr. Snow, a lawyer and economist, has testified a number of times before the Senate Commerce surface transportation and merchant marine subcommittee. He served as chairman of the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executives of major corporations, participated in the 1995 Kemp Commission to study tax reform and is co-chairman of the U.S. Conference Board's examination of corporate distrust.
Before that, the native of Toledo, Ohio, held numerous jobs in the Transportation Department during the Ford administration.
In his first job, Mr. Snow was a professor of economics at the University of Maryland in 1965.
His experience differentiates him from Mr. O'Neill, an executive at Pittsburgh-based Alcoa Inc. before the president plucked him from the private sector.
The president said yesterday Mr. Snow will be a key adviser on the economy and a key advocate of the administration's agenda for economic growth, more jobs and expanded international trade.
"Mr. Snow should be better equipped [than Mr. ONeill], and that's what the president needs. He's going to need a major spokesman" to help him push his economic agenda, said Bill Beach, director of data analysis at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.
Mr. Donohue said Mr. Snow will try to convince companies to boost investment and add jobs.
"He's a fiscal conservative and he's always been a fan of balanced budgets," said Mr. Donohue, who has known Mr. Snow for 15 years.
Mr. Beach said Mr. Snow distinguished himself as a supporter of tax simplification during his tenure on the National Commission on Economic Growth and Tax Reform, appointed by Congress. His interest in eliminating multiple layers of taxation led Mr. Snow to support examination of estate-tax reform and capital-gains tax reform, Mr. Beach said.
While Mr. O'Neill became known for making unscripted remarks about the White House's economic policy, Mr. Snow is likely to emerge as a vigorous if not well-rehearsed supporter of the administration.
"I've always considered John pretty user-friendly. Regardless of what final decision is made on an issue, he will be the kind of person to back up the position," said John Barnes, transportation analyst at Deutsche Bank.
Mr. Snow has endured criticism for CSX's decision to buy Conrail. CSX and Norfolk-based Norfolk Southern Corp. divided up Conrail's northeastern routes. The transaction closed in May 1999 and cost the companies $10.3 billion. CSX's share was $5 billion for 42 percent of Conrail's network of railroads.
Some Wall Street analysts believed the companies paid too much, said Ken Hoexter, transportation analyst at Merrill Lynch. But Mr. Snow who earned more than $18 million in salary, bonuses and stock compensation last year has worked diligently to get CSX on the right track.
"They have started to get things straightened out, but I think they have the most improvement left to make," Mr. Hoexter said.
Net income at CSX rose 27 percent in the third quarter, which ended Sept. 27, from $100 million a year ago to $127 million this year. But revenue from rail operations, the company's biggest unit, declined 4.2 percent as coal shipments declined.


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