- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 10, 2002

The railroad executive President Bush yesterday nominated to be his top economic adviser is a budget-deficit hawk who belonged to organizations that opposed or sharply questioned his $1.3 trillion tax-cut plan.
Until early this year, Treasury Secretary nominee John Snow, the chairman of CSX Corp., was on the board of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a bipartisan, deficit-fighting organization.
The committee would like to "see the government use its money to reduce debt" rather than make big reductions in tax rates, said the group's president, Carol Cox Wait.
Leon Panetta, the Democratic co-chairman of the group, described Mr. Snow as "someone who believes that you can't spend or tax cut your way out of a problem."
Asked whether he believed that Mr. Snow could be described as a "conservative, supply-side tax cutter," President Clinton's former White House chief of staff replied, "I would not put him in that category. He's got a very balanced approach."
Mr. Bush today also is expected to appoint another budget-deficit hawk, Stephen Friedman, a former co-chairman of the Goldman Sachs investment firm, to head the White House's National Economic Council. Mr. Friedman would replace Lawrence Lindsey, who was fired Friday.
Mr. Friedman, who would be Mr. Bush's White House economic adviser, is the vice chairman of the Concord Coalition's board of directors, a group that fiercely opposed Mr. Bush's tax cuts in 2001.
"The Concord Coalition was opposed to the $1.3 trillion plan," said Robert L. Bixby, the group's executive director.
When Mr. Bush's tax cuts were being debated in Congress last year, former Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin, also a member of the Concord Coalition's board, said, "This tax cut can only be described as fiscally unsound."
Mr. Rubin and Mr. Friedman were co-chairmen of Goldman Sachs and have been described as "close confidants" ever since.
Even before Mr. Bush officially announced his new economic team, they were coming under attack from conservative tax-cutters as "managerial and administrative types who were less than enthusiastic" about the kinds of big tax cuts the president has charted for the remainder of this decade.
"Stephen Friedman is a deficit hawk closely associated with the Concord Coalition," said Jack Kemp, the tax-cut crusader who was the architect of Ronald Reagan's tax-reduction program.
"Some administration officials pooh-pooh this concern by contending that Friedman's role will be primarily to communicate policy, not make it," Mr. Kemp said in his newspaper column.
"In my opinion, it is unrealistic in the extreme to expect the president's No. 2 economic adviser to be effective on Wall Street, on Main Street and with the Congress if he does not thoroughly believe in and have a personal investment in the policies he is attempting to sell," Mr. Kemp said.
However, Mr. Kemp praised Mr. Snow's tax-cutting credentials, noting that he served with him on a Republican commission in 1995 to fashion a broad tax-reform plan.
"John Snow believes in growth economics to the marrow of his bones. It would be a shame to saddle him at the get-go with a No. 2 who does not share that profound conviction," he said.
Mr. Panetta, who praised both of Mr. Bush's choices, said, "They bring a balanced viewpoint to our economy. We don't need anybody who is an ideologue. The president recognizes that in the end it's about getting the job done. These two guys have the capacity to deliver and know how to work with Capitol Hill."
Still, some supply-side activists and Republican economic advisers on Capitol Hill were critical. "Neither of these people seem to be supply-side conservatives," said a key adviser to the Senate's Republican leadership.
"Snow seems to be from another era, pre-Reagan. He's more of a centrist, someone who won't rock the boat," the adviser said.
Mr. Snow faces Senate confirmation hearings in January.
However, Stephen Moore, who heads the Club for Growth, said, "I have no problem with Snow. He's OK on tax cuts, though everything we know about Friedman tells us he is a Council on Foreign Relations, Concord Coalition deficit-phobic who believes that reducing the national debt is more important than reducing tax rates."
But Grover Norquist, who heads Americans for Tax Reform, said he was comfortable with the two appointments.
"I have been assured by the White House that Friedman is on board on the president's tax cuts. The job comes with a sign on the door: Cut taxes or die. You don't sign up with the Bush administration if you are not for tax cuts, because that's where the train is headed."

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