Three days after Paul O'Neill departed his treasury secretary post, President Bush Monday named another successful industrialist to take his place: John Snow, the chairman of the CSX railroad.
Sixty-three-year old John Snow in one sense is a lot like Paul O'Neill. He heads a major U.S. industrial company. He is wealthy, earning $18 million last year. And earlier in his career he did public service under a Republican president.
John Snow comes from Toledo, Ohio, the industrial city on Lake Erie, at whose university he received his bachelor's degree in economics. He went on to get a doctorate at the University of Virginia. He also holds a law degree.
Since 1977 Mr. Snow has been employed by CSX, the Richmond, Virginia based transportation company that began as the Chesapeake and Ohio railroad. CSX is now a large and successful intermodal carrier on the American east coast. It also controls the Sea Land shipping company. Mr. Snow spoke about CSX at an April 1999 meeting of the Business Council.
"We only stand to prosper when other people do," he said. "The demand for our services are entirely derived. Somebody else has to manufacture it, mine it, or farm it for us to have anything to haul."
Significantly, Mr. Snow this past July was forthright in saying that those responsible for the accounting scandals and that tarnished American business ethics should be severely punished. Mr. O'Neill similarly spoke out on the need to tackle business corruption.
Mr. Snow, who sits on the boards of several companies including Johnson and Johnson, U.S. Steel and Verizon (telecommunications), has been active in promoting public service in business. Again in 1999, Mr. Snow served on a government committee that gave awards to businesses that were socially responsible.
"The idea is that companies can do well [financially] and do good simultaneously," he explained. "The range of things that these companies got rewarded for, inner city enrichment for kids, college scholarship programs, the environment, on and on, is reflective of something that doesn't get talked about very often, but does go on at all major companies that do feel a deep sense of social responsibility."
Mr. Snow has indicated his enthusiasm for further tax cuts and fiscal stimulus, measures that advisors in the White House believe are important in laying the foundation for President Bush's re-election effort in two years time.
By contrast, Mr. O'Neill, who formerly headed Alcoa aluminum as treasury secretary was lukewarm to further tax cuts and instead favored tax reform and simplification. His opposition to more tax cuts may have cost him his job.