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The O'Neill problem. (Off The News).

Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill continues to lose the confidence of top advisors to President George W. Bush, White House insiders say. The word is that even Vice President Dick Cheney, who recruited long-time pal O'Neill for the job, is starting to have second thoughts about whether he made a bad personnel decision.

The problem, according to the insiders, is that O'Neill is a self-absorbed maverick who speaks his mind freely without regard for the consequences. They include embarrassing conflicts with the official White House line on policy issues and unnecessary flaps in the media over his glib comments on topics ranging from the dollar to bailouts for countries in financial distress. "One joke making the rounds," says a presidential aide, "is that if O'Neill disagrees with the President one more time, the President will have to resign."

But O'Neill's impact on policy is no laughing matter to the White House. A key concern, some officials say, has been the Treasury Department's inability to head off new IMF aid packages for Turkey and Argentina despite tough rhetoric against international aid for countries that have mismanaged their economies. "We talk a good game about opposing bailouts but it looks like Treasury keeps getting rolled by the IMF," gripes a White House official.
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Publication:The International Economy
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Sep 1, 2001
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