Paul O'Neill's Backlach Against Bush Was Predictable

It isn’t always nice to say “I told you so”, but sometimes it is necessary.

Paul O’Neill’s blast at the Bush Administration, subsequent to his firing by Dick Cheney, was entirely predictable. He had previously opposed a President who promoted him — Richard Nixon.

As I wrote in December, 2000, Paul O’Neill was an LBJ “Great Society” Democrat, who, in 1973, as Deputy Director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB), strongly resisted the desire of President Richard Nixon to close down LBJ’s “Great Society”.

In 1973, President Nixon named me to head the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO), following Sargent Shriver, Don Rumsfeld, and Frank Carlucci, among others.

From beginning to end, OMB Deputy Director O’Neill did everything he could to save the misbegotten “war on poverty”, funded through the multi-billion dollar Economic Opportunity Act, and to thwart President Nixon’s stated intentions.

Instead of closing down OEO, as President Nixon desired, O’Neill was part of a scheme to save it, by cutting it up into pieces and sending its parts in various departmental directions.

For example, the Office of Legal Services, under O’Neill’s orchestration, would be made the Legal Services Corporation. The National Institute of Education would become part of what is now known as the U.S. Department of Education, the Office of Minority Business Enterprise, the OEO Migrant Program, OEO’s Office of Indian Affairs, and its Office of Economic Development, inter alia, were shifted to other bureaucratic entities, instead of being eliminated, as President Nixon intended.

As OMB Deputy Director, O’Neill’s strategy was not to follow orders to “kill” what President Nixon regarded as an unconstitutional cancer on the body politic, but rather to spread the cancer around.