U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill Resigns
In an unexpected move, U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill on Saturday resigned at the request of the White House, the New York Times reports (Bumiller/Sanger, New York Times, 12/7). The Washington Post reports that President Bush decided to replace O'Neill and National Economic Council Director Lawrence Lindsey over "heightened ... anxiety over the ailing economy" (Allen/Weisman, Washington Post, 12/7). In May, the often "outspoken" O'Neill traveled to Africa with Irish rock star Bono to visit poverty-relief programs and HIV/AIDS clinics (Blustein, Washington Post, 12/7). After the visit to Africa, O'Neill said that the United States has a "moral duty" to help developing nations in Africa to address problems such as HIV/AIDS and poverty when local leaders are "committed to solving problems" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/4). According to the Washington Times, O'Neill "came under some criticism and even ridicule" from some for his visit to Africa with Bono (Lambro, Washington Times, 12/7).
Bono said he will miss O'Neill but added that the Bush administration is committed to the fight against HIV/AIDS (Reuters, 12/6). Officials at Oxfam America said that with the resignation of O'Neill, the Bush administration will lose an "important voice" on development and humanitarian issues, such as HIV/AIDS. They added that O'Neill moved those issues "into the debate in a way they otherwise would not have been included" (Oxfam America statement, 12/6).