Profile: Secretary of the Treasury John Snow

Despite speculation that he would be replaced, John W. Snow was asked by President Bush to stay on as secretary of the Treasury during his second term.

The position is a crucial Cabinet post as Bush aggressively pursues overhauls of the existing Social Security system and tax code. Snow will be the chief salesman to Wall Street and the American people for issues that likely will be a tough sell.

Social Security is projected to start paying out more in benefits than it collects in taxes in 2018, according to Social Security trustees, but will be able to pay full promised benefits until 2042. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has projected the program will be solvent until 2052.

Bush has proposed a controversial plan allowing younger workers to invest part of their Social Security taxes in the stock and bond markets in exchange for fewer guaranteed retirement benefits. In addition, he hopes to rewrite the tax laws and make his first-term tax cuts permanent. Both efforts could be complicated by a weak dollar, an increased deficit or a drop in financial markets.

Going into the nomination season, there was media speculation that Bush might tap other Washington insiders or Wall Street captains for the Treasury post. Snow didn't help make a case for himself with two Bush campaign stops in Ohio -- his comments about job losses and the need for overseas "outsourcing" became fodder for Democrat John Kerry's campaign ads.

Since the election, Snow has publicly spoken out about the administration's support for a "strong dollar," though the dollar has fallen about 30 percent over three years against other leading world currencies.

From CEO to Cabinet Member

Snow was sworn into office on Feb. 3, 2003, replacing Paul O'Neill, who had a contentious relationship with the White House and some members of Congress.

Prior to that, Snow was chairman and chief executive officer of CSX Corp., where he had worked for 20 years and led the company to refocus on its core railroad business.

Snow previously served at the Department of Transportation as administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, deputy undersecretary, assistant secretary for the governmental affairs, and deputy assistant secretary for policy, plans and international affairs.

Snow also was chairman of the Business Roundtable, a business policy group, from 1994 to 1996, and he played a major role in supporting passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement. In addition, he has served on a number of boards dedicated to improving corporate governance practices.

Born in Toledo, Ohio, Snow, 65, graduated from the University of Toledo in 1962. He later earned a doctorate in economics from the University of Virginia and a law degree from George Washington University. He taught economics at the University of Maryland and the University of Virginia and taught law at George Washington. He also was a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in 1977 and was a distinguished fellow at the Yale School of Management from 1978 to 1980.

Snow and his wife, Carolyn, live in Richmond, Va. They have three children and three grandchildren.

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