Paulson-Snow Swap Signals New Emphasis President Bush nominates Goldman Sachs Chairman Henry Paulson to be the new Treasury Secretary. He is to replace John Snow, whose resignation from the Cabinet will become official in June. Snow's departure had been widely expected.
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Paulson-Snow Swap Signals New Emphasis

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Paulson-Snow Swap Signals New Emphasis

Paulson-Snow Swap Signals New Emphasis

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

Now we're not sure how the offices compare or the vacation time or the quality of the coffee in the conference room, but we do know this. Henry Paulson will take quite a pay cut for his new job. He's President Bush's pick to be the next Treasury Secretary and if the Senate approves his nomination, he will be making tens of millions of dollars less than he does at his current job, head of the investment firm Goldman Sachs.

If confirmed, Paulson will replace John Snow, who leaves behind a U.S. economy that is showing strong growth and relatively low unemployment. In a moment we'll take a look at Paulson's career and at his firm, Goldman Sachs.

But we begin with the changing of the guard ceremony at the White House and NPR's Don Gonyea.

DON GONYEA reporting:

John Snow took over at Treasury just over three years ago following the controversial tenure of Paul O'Neill, who clashed with the President over tax policy and the widening budget deficit. For his part, Snow was always a team player and Mr. Bush praised him in a Rose Garden ceremony this morning.

President GEORGE W. BUSH: John answered the call to public service in a time of uncertainty for our economy. And under his leadership we have seen a broad and vigorous economic resurgence.

GONYEA: And in his turn at the microphone today, Snow seemed eager to remind people that the economy is indeed doing well.

Mr. JOHN SNOW (U.S. Treasury Department): The American economy today is growing and expanding at a rate well above the rest of the industrialized world. Businesses are investing, productivity growth is strong, and millions of new jobs have been created with rising wages.

GONYEA: A problem for the president, though, is that Americans simply don't feel as good about the economy as the administration would like. Worries about rising gas prices and the high cost of healthcare foster uncertainty and a CBS news poll out this month shows that just 34% of those questioned approve of the way the president is handling the economy. 57% disapprove.

Snow did travel the country promoting the economy, talking up administration economic policies and the need for making tax cuts permanent. Here he is during a July phone interview with NPR while he traveled in Minnesota and Wisconsin by bus with other members of the Cabinet. He described the reaction he was getting from audiences.

Mr. SNOW: I left these meetings encouraged that we're going to have this recovery and that was confirmed by the reports from the people we met with today that, while not dramatic, the economy is clearly beginning to move in the right direction.

GONYEA: Still, John Snow was never seen as a member of the president's inner circle. He was promoting economic policies that others in the administration were writing. Speculation that he would soon be leaving began right after President Bush won reelection in 2004. White House Press Secretary Tony Snow today dismissed suggestions that the Treasury Secretary needs to be an effective cheerleader.

Mr. TONY SNOW (Press Secretary, White House): You don't bring in the Treasury Secretary as a PR man. You bring in the Treasury Secretary as being one of your key economic aids. You want somebody who's capable and I think you can agree that the Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs Group would probably fall into that category. Somebody who is familiar with the workings of the economy and how to keep it humming along.

GONYEA: The new nominee's task is a big one. Henry Paulson is expected to start touring the country talking about the economy and about the president's policies as soon as he's confirmed by the Senate.

Don Gonyea, NPR News, the White House.

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