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Opinion

Paul O'Neill, visionary?

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Remember Paul O'Neill, president George W's first treasury secretary? He's been quiet for the last few months, after the furore died down about his collaboration with journalist and author Ron Suskind for the book The Price of Loyalty.

Well, he's back and again is pulling no punches. Last month he was guest speaker at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. Asked about vice president Dick Cheney's deficit comment [that Reaganomics proved they don't matter], O'Neill, true to form, did not hold back: "In an economic sense, that's loony."

But the real opprobrium came when discussing social security reform: "I find it hard to understand why, if you have nothing to lose, you don't suggest visionary plans," said O'Neill. "Do I think he [president Bush] is on the right track? No.

"People need to realize not only that they need to provide for their children, but for their own retirement."

So what's his vision? "I suggest that the government should, when a child is born, put $2,000 into an account, and do so for the first 18 years of the child's life. By 18, with interest, it's worth $65,000.

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