Thursday, January 15, 2004

About Face From O'Neill?

We've all seen the stories since Ron Suskind and former Shrubbery Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill started their publicity for "The Price of Loyalty." For instance, see the review by Sid Blumenthal, who is still not Atrios, who is also not Gene Lyons. For instance:

When the political team distorts basic economic numbers on tax cuts and inserts them into the 2001 State of the Union address, O'Neill yells, "This is complete bullshit!"
This is a bit hard to reconcile with some of O'Neill's statements as Treasury Secretary. It was in an interview with Financial Times where O'Neill proposed giving to corporations the same tax-exempt status given to churches. Yes, really. According to O'Neill in May of 2001, corporations should pay zero taxes. In real time, the Financial Times described his proposals as "radical" and "political dynamite". A few New York Newsday columnists picked up on it, as well as Thomas DeFrank of the New York Daily News, then it dropped off the face of the earth. When DeFrank had called the White House seeking their reaction to it, they pretty much threw O'Neill under the bus.

Given that Suskind's collaboration with O'Neill has produced quite a contradiction with O'Neill's past public statements when he held office, it leads to some obvious questions. Like, were O'Neill's radical proposals on corporate taxation really his, or were they a trial balloon floated by someone expendable so Bush didn't have to take the heat for it? I'm guessing the latter. It would reconcile the book version of O'Neill with the cabinet official version of O'Neill. And it's so like the Bushies to pull crap like that.

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