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Special Event

Paul O'Neill Swears In As Treasury Secretary

Aired January 30, 2001 - 12:02 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS: We're going to go live to the White House, where Dick Cheney is stepping up to the podium, getting ready for a press conference with President George W. Bush.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: (JOINED IN PROGRESS) ... both a professional and a personal honor, having known Paul for some 30 years as both a colleague and a friend.

Paul's confirmation by the Senate is good news for the American economy, because he brings to his assignment a deep understanding of the world of business and commerce, and he also understands thoroughly the work of government. He takes seriously our responsibility to the American people, not just to build a healthy, growing economy, but to keep a watchful eye as well on how their tax dollars are spent.

Secretary O'Neill is a man of consistently sound judgment. He'll be a source of wise counsel on many issues and greatly valued as a member of the team.

Finally, having Paul O'Neill at Treasury is good news for everyone who expects the best in public service. He's a man of honor and decency, who will make all Americans proud.

With that, Paul, let me welcome you back to public service. And we'll administer the oath of office.

Raise your right hand and repeat after me.

(OATH ADMINISTERED)

PAUL O'NEILL, SECRETARY OF TREASURY: I, Paul O'Neill, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter, so help me God.

CHENEY: Congratulations.

O'NEILL: Thank you.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I'm pleased to welcome Nancy O'Neill and the O'Neill family here. Thank you all for coming. It's an honor for both the vice president and I to say some words about the secretary of treasury.

With Paul over at the Treasury, he is literally a next-door neighbor, and I'm going to see a lot of him right here in this office. He'll be a valued adviser and a steady hand.

Secretary O'Neill has served in this office before, at the Office of Management and Budget. He understands the workings and responsibilities of the executive branch. More than that, he understands the private sector, where he and others like him have been driving our country's economic boom.

In a distinguished career, Paul has earned a reputation as a straight shooter and an innovator, and I'm proud to welcome him as the chief financial officer of this nation.

Paul and I share a great goal: to make sure that all Americans can find high-paying, high-quality jobs. And we share a vision of how to get there.

Our prosperity depends on free trade, less regulation, and America's strong place in our global economy. More than ever, American jobs depend on America's standing in the world.

I value Paul's vast experience in the world economy. I value his background in employing American workers. And I value his steadiness, his conviction and his authority.

We also share a belief that broad, responsible tax cuts are an important step we can take to regain the momentum of our economy. When we reduce the income tax burden, we must do so for everybody who pays taxes. When we have a government surplus, we must prioritize and spend responsibly and return some of that surplus to the people who worked for it.

Because our government has a surplus does not mean that every American family has a surplus. In fact, many families are feeling squeezed by high energy prices and credit card debt. We need to give them their own money back, to help families manage their own account, to pay down their own personal debts.

Our tax cut will give the biggest percentage reductions to people who struggle to get into the middle class and American families who struggle to stay there.

I believe in leaving more dollars with the people who earn them, and so does Secretary O'Neill, and I'm proud that those dollars will soon bear the signature of Secretary Paul O'Neill.

Congratulations, Mr. Secretary.

O'NEILL: Thank you very much.

Well, thank you, Mr. President and Mr. Vice President. Thank you also to my wife.

This is a new form of retirement. (LAUGHTER)

I'm deeply honored to be asked by the president to serve in his Cabinet and to have this important responsibility to help him realize the vision that he has for America.

The reason I've chosen this over retirement is because I do believe deeply in the things that he has articulated as a vision for our country. And in my portfolio is obviously a need to move on with giving the American people's money back to them, which we are dedicated to doing. And I look forward to that and working with the president and the vice president to deliver a solution for Social Security which has been promised and on the many other important objectives, beginning with education.

So thank you again, Mr. President.

BUSH: Mr. Secretary, thank you.

Well, we have a family picture, too, if you'd like one.

Come on up.

O'NEILL: The -- I have -- I have four children, and three of them are here today. And I have 12 grandchildren, and only a few of them are here.

BUSH: OK, good.

O'NEILL: We need the president, yes, indeed.

PHILLIPS: Well, definitely, with a large grin on his face, his wife Nancy by his side. Three of his four kids -- and he says he has 12 grandchildren. I don't know if they are all there or not. But they're posing for the family picture as Paul O'Neill is officially sworn in as treasury secretary. Talking about first goal is solution for Social Security, working close with the new president.

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