Treasury Secretary Snow Reportedly Planning to Resign
Mr. Snow is perhaps best known for excusing the record and near-record federal budget deficits that have consistently dogged the Bush Administration by declaring that the federal budget surpluses in the last years of the Clinton Administration were a "mirage." Among his other controversial statements was the assertion that the global supply of lendable funds was ample to continue financing the nation's chronic budget deficits. Mr. Snow was also the architect last December of such a limited printing of a dire economic report on future U.S. expenditure commitments that hardly anyone outside the Congress had a chance to see what one fiscally conservative House Budget Committee member described as the "perfect storm" of financial catastrophe starting in about a decade.
Talk of the current Treasury Secretary's imminent departure comes as the United States prepares for an important meeting of the G8 finance ministers early next month in Russia. While White House officials dismiss suggestions that Snow's talk of wanting to resign would affect the U.S. position in the talks, the very possibility that the head of the U.S. delegation wants to quit his job could nevertheless be construed by some of the ministers as indicating uncertainty about the future of American economic policy in the difficult times ahead. A swift appointment and confirmation of a new Treasury Secretary would serve to allay such concerns.
While candidates lining up for the job are few, several are rumored to be willing and favored by President Bush. Stephen Friedman, formerly the chief White House economic adviser, is the leading candidate. As a former securities industry executive, his appointment would garner favor with one of the Republicans' traditional allies among business groups. Also in the running is Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, a choice with obvious but perhaps unstated appeal as a sign to more politically aware Hispanic voters of Republican interest in gaining their voters in November. Neither of these candidates has displayed stellar leadership while working for the Administration, so the choice between them would come down to one of personal likes and dislikes of the President and his advisers, as well as the significance of the political advantage gained from the one chosen.
With the U.S. dollar weakening against other major currencies and with looming difficulties the United States may face as intractable federal budget deficits defy continued insistence by the White House that tax cuts will actually reduce them, the Treasury Department will undoubtedly need a strong hand over the coming months. With financial crises the Treasury Department itself projects within the next ten years, action now is required, and a clear, resolute voice at the Cabinet level would at the very least serve to alert the Republican leadership in Washington that serious steps must be taken in the present if there is to be any hope of averting what could be fiscal disaster in the second decade of this century.
The ideal new Treasury Secretary will be willing and able to stand up and speak the facts of fiscal responsibility, including the fact that federal tax policies must not generate debilitating, multi-year deficits that have to be financed by foreign interests. Now perhaps more than ever before in the nation's history, a President needs someone who will tell him that his and his congressional allies' course has been wrong to the point of reckless.
Given, however, that the appointment will be made by a Republican President who, with his allies in Congress, has shown no capacity whatsoever to understand the correlation between massive tax cuts and staggering federal budget deficits, little hope can be held that the individual who replaces John Snow will accomplish anything more beneficial to the United States than Mr. Snow, himself, did.
The Dark Wraith does not await the naming of a new Treasury Secretary with even the slightest optimism.