November 14, 2006

All I See Are Bills


by Chris Maynard and The BAG

In this photo-op plucked from the Sunday papers, Secretary of the Treasury Henry M. Paulson Jr. peers through a magnifying loupe as he inspects his signature on new 20-dollar bills at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington.

Mr. Paulson earned 38 million dollars last year as head of Goldman Sachs, which means that it would have taken him a tad less than nine minutes to earn one of the printed sheets of 32 bills each. It certainly would have made payday an amusing spectacle.

The Treasury Secretary has said he’s concerned about income inequality. Presumably he means others’ incomes. According to U.S. Census figures, in 2000, the uppermost fifth of earners in Manhattan earned about 52 times what the lowest fifth did, the same disparity as in Namibia. In 2005, Mr. Paulson earned 103 times as much as that top earning class.

In yesterday’s International Herald Tribune, Albert Hunt observed that — in light of post-election demands for moderation and compromise — the vain and prideful Treasury Secretary has suddenly become a key White House player.

Given the new atmosphere, it’s funny Mr. Paulson looks for his own name when his real job is to watch over the dollars.  If President Bush has given Paulson new room to negotiate, as CBS reports, the real inspection to be made is whether the Secretary can come into view on an unjust tax policy and get a fix on a budget deficit that is bleeding-out.

(image: KarenBleier/AFP/Getty Images.

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Michael Shaw
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