Monday, July 10, 2006

The "Cash Room" takes center stage

The U.S. Treasury Department gets a new Secretary today - Henry M. Paulson.
Paulson, who has an estimated net worth of $700 million, was just awarded an $18.7 million cash bonus for half a year of work as the outgoing chief executive of Goldman Sachs Group.
In 2004, Paulson earned the title of Bush Pioneer. The Pioneers are an elite group of GOP donors who raised $100,000 for Bush's presidential campaigns in order to wear an official Pioneer badge. Another Bush Pioneer who just last week garnered headlines was the now deceased Kenneth Lay of Enron fame.
Today's swearing in of Paulson will be administered by Bush in the Treasury Building's ornate "Cash Room" where the public once could cash government checks, exchange new money for old, redeem silver certificates and gold certificates, and sell U.S. Treasury bonds. Now used primarily as a backdrop for ceremonies, the Cash Room has now become center stage under Bush for a different sort of redemption.
Nashville's congressman Jim Cooper used the occasion of today's swearing in of Paulson to renew his call on the Treasury/Administration to be more forthright and transparent in its reporting of the federal deficits. It's no secret that Bush's Treasury has used a kind of accounting method over the past six years that allows for under reporting of the size of the deficits.
While I certainly can't help but agree with Coop's call for more straight forward, honest disclosure of how bad things really are at Treasury, part of me thinks I may not be able to stomach knowing more than I already do.