Will Bolten and Hastert Try to Retire Treasury Secretary Snow?

Today, New York Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller cited a “prominent Republican” who says Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten wants to replace Treasury Secretary Snow with someone who could “more forcefully communicate the administration’s message that the economy is strong”:

A prominent Republican in Washington who consults often with the White House said Mr. Bolten, who is to assume his duties next month, wants Mr. Bush to replace the Treasury secretary, John W. Snow, with someone who can more forcefully communicate the administration’s message that the economy is strong. This Republican was granted anonymity to discuss private deliberations within the administration.

Bumiller wrote a very similar article last December, but with one important difference — she named House speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) as the one saying that Snow needed “to be more aggressive in talking about the economy”:

The grousing about Mr. Snow was so loud that even Democratic Congressional aides were aware that the House speaker, Representative J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois, had complained to Mr. Card and Mr. Bartlett that the administration needed to be more aggressive in talking about the economy.

It seems likely that Bumiller’s source on Bolten today was Speaker Hastert, who “sealed the fate” of the first Bush Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill. (According to Robert Novak, Bolten and Hastert get along “especially” well.) But why are they upset with Snow?


Bumiller reports it’s because conservatives want a new Treasury Secretary to “reassure financial markets, which are increasingly worried about record-high budget and trade deficits.” It makes sense that Josh Bolten — who oversaw a $1.8 trillion expansion of the national debt as OMB Director — would be particularly sensitive to this issue.