- The Washington Times - Monday, July 10, 2006

Henry M. Paulson took over yesterday as the nation’s 74th Treasury secretary, pledging to make sure the country does not retreat from the global economy.

Mr. Paulson, the former head of Goldman Sachs Group, was sworn in by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. in the Treasury Department’s ornate Cash Room with President Bush, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and other dignitaries from the administration and Congress watching.

“We must always remember that the strength of the U.S. economy is linked to the strength of the global economy,” Mr. Paulson said in his brief remarks. “If we retreat from the global stage, the void is likely to be filled by those who do not share our commitment to economic reform.”

Mr. Paulson said he planned to expand trade and investment, modernize international financial markets and “be vigilant in identifying and managing potential financial vulnerability.”

Mr. Bush praised Mr. Paulson for giving up the top job at Goldman Sachs to become his third Treasury secretary as part of a Cabinet shake-up designed to bolster the president’s sagging public approval ratings and stalled second-term economic agenda.

With Mr. Paulson, the administration hopes that it has obtained the same kind of economic star power that Robert Rubin, another former head of Goldman Sachs brought to government when he served as Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration.

Mr. Paulson succeeds John W. Snow, who Mr. Bush praised for his leadership in the war against terrorism, including a formerly secret Treasury program to track thousands of international money transfers. Mr. Snow had succeeded Paul O’Neill, who was forced to resign over policy differences with the administration.

The president said Mr. Paulson would be his “leading policy adviser” and principal economic spokesman as the administration works to make the tax cuts of Mr. Bush’s first term permanent while bringing federal spending under control and reining in the growth of Social Security and Medicare.

Mr. Bush said the government’s big benefit programs were “growing at a rate faster than inflation and faster than the economy and faster than we can afford.” Mr. Bush’s drive to overhaul Social Security with the introduction of private savings accounts went nowhere in Congress last year.

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