O'Neill, Paul Henry

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

O'Neill, Paul Henry

Paul Henry O'Neill, 1935–, American business executive and government official, b. St. Louis, Mo., grad. Fresno State College (B.A.) and Indiana Univ. (M.P.A.). A Republican, O'Neill began his career in the federal government in 1961 as a systems analyst in the Veterans Administration and worked his way up in the bureaucracy to become a top official at the Office of Management and Budget (1967–77) under presidents Nixon and Ford. He was an initiator and supporter of government block grants. Leaving government service, O'Neill soon became a corporate executive, holding the post of chairman and chief executive of Alcoa (1987–99). In 2000, O'Neill was named secretary of the treasury by President George W. Bush. A supporter of revamping social security to permit individuals to invest in stocks and bonds, he was unusually plain-spoken for a treasury secretary. He resigned at the request of the White House in Dec., 2002, as the administration turned its focus to the lackluster economy and its potential effect on the 2004 election. O'Neill's profound disagreements with the Bush administration's policies were subsequently revealed when he made detailed accusations of one-sided, prearranged, and politically determined decision-making processes.

See R. Suskind, The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House and the Education of Paul O'Neill (2004).

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