- The Washington Times - Monday, December 9, 2002

President Bush today nominated John W. Snow, chairman of the transportation and railroad conglomerate CSX Corp., to replace Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and lead an economic team retooled for the president's re-election drive.

"John Snow has excelled as a business leader, an expert on economic policy, an academic, and as a public servant," Mr. Bush said. "He'll be a superb member of my Cabinet."

Mr. Snow, 63, a former Ford administration official whose company has helped fund the campaigns of Mr. Bush and scores of other GOP politicians, will be the point man as the president presses a new tax-cutting economic package.

"In a varied and productive career, John Snow has shown consistent qualities of foresight and integrity and public spirit," Mr. Bush said. "He's led one of our nation's largest railroads with skill and success."

Mr. Snow credited Mr. Bush with shepherding the economy through "one of the shortest and shallowest" recessions. "Yet, I strongly share your view that we cannot be satisfied until everyone - every single person who is unemployed and seeking a job - has an opportunity to work," Mr. Snow said.

Mr. Bush nominated Mr. Snow just three days after firing Mr. O'Neill and White House economic adviser Larry Lindsey as part of a shake-up designed to control political damage from the ailing economy. Harvey Pitt, criticized for failing to shield Bush politically from the corporate abuse scandals, resigned on Election Day as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The president is close to naming successors to Mr. Lindsey and Mr. Pitt, aides said. Mr. Lindsey, who attended the announcement, was asked what's next for him. "I'm going to Disney World," he replied.

Mr. O'Neill, angered by his abrupt ouster, was not in the room.

Democrats seized on the shake-up as evidence that Mr. Bush's tax-cutting economic policies have hurt the economy.

"It isn't the names, but the plan that is of concern to us," said Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle. "It wasn't necessarily the people that he had in place in the last two years, it's the plan. Trickle-down economics doesn't work."

Mr. Bush cited as positive developments the country's under-control inflation rate, continued low mortgage interest rates, a return to growth in the gross national product and a 5.6 increase in productivity over the last four quarters.

Yet he ticked off a list of worrisome indicators: persistent unemployment in some sectors and regions and the need to strengthen investor confidence.

"Many Americans have very little money left over after taxes," Mr. Bush said. "Some struggle under a weight of debt that makes it difficult to save for retirement."

The Senate would have to confirm Mr. Snow's nomination, and White House officials expect he will be grilled about any government aid to CSX.

Mr. Snow took a potentially damaging issue off the table by resigning his membership in Augusta National. The golf club, which hosts golf's premier tournament, is under fire for not admitting women. Mr. Snow was listed as a member in September.

Halfway through his first day as a nominee, Mr. Snow had called about 20 lawmakers to promote his confirmation chances.

Wall Street's initial reaction was muted.

"I think the ouster of O'Neill is more important than who they name. With someone like Snow, there's nothing unique to him to move the market either way," said Charles Pradilla, chief investment strategist at SG Cowen Securities.

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