Paul O’Neill, President-elect Bush’s controversial nominee to serve as Treasury secretary, advised President-elect Bill Clinton in 1992 to study the enactment of new gas and carbon taxes, and in the 1970s worked in the Nixon and Ford Administrations to thwart conservative efforts to roll back big government programs.
At an economic summit called by then President-elect Clinton in 1992, O’Neill said, “It certainly has been clear to me, and has been for a long time, that we need a gasoline tax. We should also look very hard at a carbon tax.”
Clinton later succeeded in pushing an increase in the gas tax through Congress, but failed to pass a broad-based energy tax when even Democrats would not support it.
Serving as associate director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Nixon, O’Neill prevented efforts led by Nixon-appointee Howard Phillips (now chairman of the Conservative Caucus) to shutdown the Office of Economic Opportunity, which Phillips directed.
In 1974, over the objections of such stalwart conservatives as Rep. John Ashbrook (R.-Ohio), O’Neill also helped engineer the creation of the Legal Service Corp., which, to this day, uses tax dollars to fund left-wing lawsuits by liberal lawyers.
O’Neill began his career in government during the Kennedy Administration, serving in the Bureau of Veterans Affairs.