If the New York Times is to be believed, someone at the White House is trying to push Treasury Secretary John Snow out the door. One unnamed White House staffer said last week that Snow could “stay as long as he wants, as long as it’s not too long.” The Times says with resolute conviction that “Snow is on his way out.” The White House has failed to put these rumors to bed with solid denials. The media vigilantes smell blood.
John Snow has now learned the hard way the truth of the Ronald Reagan maxim about Washington: In this town, if you want a loyal friend, get a dog.
This is shabby treatment by the White House of a good man and an excellent Treasury secretary. If the president wants Snow out, why the backdoor innuendos and shameless whispering campaign? Snow has been loyal and effective for Bush, and his job performance has been especially glowing given that he succeeded Paul O’Neill, who betrayed Bush at every turn and was never really with the tax-cutting program. Snow deserves gratitude for bringing dignity and sanity back to the Treasury.
The media doesn’t like Snow all that much. They pine for cabinet secretaries like Jim Baker and Dick Darman, people who leak to the papers, assault tax cuts, and can always be counted on to dump on conservatives. That’s precisely what is admirable about Snow. He doesn’t care what the New York Times and CBS think about him. Why should the White House?
Snow was brought in for one purpose: to sell America on the president’s tax package. He did that with quiet aplomb. That shouldn’t have been too surprising. John Snow, former CEO of CSX railroad, is a supply-sider down to the marrow of his bones. He made a forceful and persuasive case to Capitol Hill, Wall Street, and Main Street on the wisdom of cutting dividend and capital-gains taxes.
Here’s an even more important job credential. John Snow has presided over one of the most bullish economic recoveries in many years. The economy has soared at a real growth rate of nearly 5 percent since Snow was named Treasury secretary. The stock market has increased by nearly 30 percent in less than two years. The investor class in America has much to be thankful for in the performance of John Snow.
I must confess that I am not disinterested. I know John Snow personally, and have an unqualified admiration for his economic views. We met when we both served on the Kemp Commission on Tax Reform. What became clear during those months is that Snow wants what the vast majority of Americans want: a radically simplified, single-rate tax system that clears away the barriers to growth in the IRS tax code, eliminates unfair subsidies, flattens tax rates, and doesn’t require hoards of accountants, lawyers, and valium to figure out the tax liabilities. For the past year Snow has been crafting the outline of a tax-reform proposal based on the principles of simplicity, low rates, and incentives for saving and investment.
Snow is a free trader and an inflation hawk. On the dollar policy he is right. The market should determine the “correct” value for the dollar, not the witless political class, which wouldn’t understand economic principles if they were written out in all caps and in green crayon.
Snow is said to have a tendency to put his foot in his mouth. An alleged blunder was that he pointed out to Ohioans that the job picture in the Buckeye state was better than the media portrayed it. How insensitive to unemployed factory workers, the whining class complained. But you know what? He was dead-on accurate. In fact, the post-election jobs report confirmed precisely what Snow was saying: The jobs recovery is in full bloom, even in high-tax Ohio.
Bush needs a Treasury secretary who can lead over this next term on tax reform, death-tax repeal, budget control, free trade, and a stable currency with stable prices. John Snow is the right man for the job. Conservatives should rally behind him. He is one of us. His ouster would be an unforgivable affront to the supply-side movement and a blow to wise financial policy.
Four more years.
–Stephen Moore is president of the Club for Growth.