BETHANY, W.Va. — Paul H. O'Neill, former Secretary of the Treasury, spoke at Commencement Hall on the Bethany College campus, Thursday, September 28 at 2 p.m.
He focused his remarks on the mounting federal deficit and the impact this deficit will have on future generations.
"About our financial situation as a people: the course we're on right now, from a financial point of view, is un-sustainable," said O'Neill. "How much do we owe going forward? How many billions of debt have we actually issued."
He said this year's federal budget was $2.8 trillion, and the gross domestic product was $13.2 trillion.
O'Neill, appointed to Secretary of the Treasury by George W. Bush in 2001, also served under five other presidents, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and George H. W. Bush. In 1967, he joined the United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and served as assistant director. Later, under President Ford, O'Neill served as deputy director of OMB. In 1977, O'Neill, moving to the private sector, was named Executive Vice President and later President of the International Paper Company.
Approached by President George H. W. Bush in 1988 to become Secretary of Defense, O'Neill declined but recommended Dick Cheney for the position. Bush then pursued O'Neill to chair an advisory group on education. Under O'Neill's leadership, the group recommended national standards and unified testing standards.
From 1987 to 1999, O'Neill was chairman and CEO of the Pittsburgh industrial giant Alcoa. He retired as chairman at the end of 2000. His reign was extremely successful, as the company's revenues increased from $1.5 billion in 1987 to $23 billion in 2000 while the earnings went from $200 million in 1987 to $1.48 billion in 2000.
Most recently O’Neill has collaborated on the book entitled Price of Loyalty whichdescribes the former Secretary’s days in the White House under the current Bush administration.
O'Neill resides in Pittsburgh, Pa. with his wife Nancy.