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Paul O'Neill

Alternate meaning: Paul O'Neill (baseball player).

Paul Henry O'Neill (born December 4, 1935) served as the 72nd United States Secretary of the Treasury under President George W. Bush. He resigned in December 2002 under pressure from the administration, re-emerging as one of its harshest critics in January 2004.

Mr. O'Neill was born in St. Louis, Missouri. He received a bachelor's degree in Economics from Fresno State College in California, and a master's degree in Public Administration from Indiana University. O'Neill and his wife Nancy have four children and 12 grandchildren.

O'Neill was chairman and CEO of Alcoa from 1987 to 1999, and retired as chairman at the end of 2000. Prior to joining Alcoa, O'Neill was president of International Paper Company from 1985 to 1987, where he had been vice president from 1977 to 1985. He joined United States Office of Management and Budget in 1967, and was deputy director of OMB from 1974 to 1977. He began his public service as a computer systems analyst with the Veterans Administration, where he served from 1961 to 1966.

A report commissioned in 2002 by O'Neill while Secretary suggested the United States faced future federal budget deficits of more than US$4444.2 trillion. The report also suggested that sharp tax increases, massive spending cuts, or both would be unavoidable if the United States were to meet benefit promises to its future generations. The study estimated that closing the budget gap would require the equivalent of an immediate and permanent 66 percent across-the-board income tax increase. The Bush administration left the findings out of the 2004 annual budget report published in February 2003.

O'Neill's private feuds with Bush's tax cut policies led to his dismissal in 2003, and replacement with Jack Snow. Once out of office, O'Neill said, "I'm determined not to say any negative things about the president and the Bush administration." However, one year later, in early 2004, he openly criticized the President, blasting his economic policies and alleged "detachment" from the cabinet process. He described Bush's behavior at cabinet meetings as being like "a blind man in a roomful of deaf people" [1]. He later expressed regret over the comment, which had became controversial and oft-quoted by the media, and hoped it wouldn't detract from the substance of his concerns [1].

That characterization was reported as part of the publicity preceding the publication of The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill (ISBN 0743255453). Written with Wall Street Journal reporter Ron Suskind, the book also claims that the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was not a reaction to the attacks of September 11, but was instead a campaign in the planning stages ever since Bush took office, with potential oil spoils charted in early documents.

Rather than denying his allegations, Bush officials attacked his credibility, while answering that regime change in Iraq had been official U.S. policy since 1998, three years before Bush took office. However, O'Neill's claims called into question the relationship of the Iraq occupation to the post-9/11 War on Terrorism. Meanwhile, the Department of the Treasury announced it would launch an investigation into how allegedly classified documents ended up on "60 Minutes." O'Neill in reply to the announcement of the investigation denied taking any secret documents saying the documents were given to him by the Treasury Department's chief legal officer through a formal request.

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