Paul O'Neill Is Dead at 84

The former Treasury secretary was known for his straight-talking style
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 18, 2020 10:30 AM CDT
Paul O'Neill Is Dead at 84
In this March 20, 2002 file photo, former US Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill holds a news conference at the U.N. Conference for Financing of Development in Monterrey, Mexico.   (AP Photo/John Moore)

Paul O’Neill, a former Treasury secretary who broke with George W. Bush over tax policy and then produced a book critical of the administration, died Saturday. He was 84. O'Neill's son, Paul O’Neill Jr. confirmed that his father died at his home in Pittsburgh after battling lung cancer for the last couple of years, the AP reports. After a few surgeries and chemotherapy, he decided against any further intervention four or five months ago, he said. "There was some family here and he died peacefully," he said. "Based on his situation it was a good exit." A former head of aluminum giant Alcoa, O'Neill served as Treasury secretary from 2001 to late 2002. He was forced to resign after he objected to a second round of tax cuts because of their impact on deficits.

After leaving the administration, O'Neill worked with author Ron Suskind on an explosive book covering his two years in the administration, The Price of Loyalty. O'Neill contended that the administration began planning the overthrow of Iraq President Saddam Hussein right after Bush took office, eight months before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The Wall Street Journal reports that in his later years, O'Neill worked with nongovernmental bodies and acted as a consultant for health-care providers. But he'll be remembered for a straight-up style that often irked the White House, Congress, and Wall Street. "Doing the right thing is good politics," Bloomberg quotes him as saying. "If people don't like what I'm doing, I don't give a damn."

(Read more obituary stories.)

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