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Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill
Wows Worsham Audience

By Dan Adkins

Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill

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Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill credited Bush's 2001 tax cut initiative for preventing unemployment from rising to even higher levels. O'Neil estimated that without the tax package, 1 million more Americans would be jobless.

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To hear Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill's remarks, click here.

Sept. 23, 2002 (Lexington, Ky.) -- U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill carried his view of optimism about the American economy to more than 250 students and faculty and Lexington residents during a 90-minute session at the University of Kentucky this morning.

"We've become victims of too much data and not enough information," O'Neill told his audience at the UK Student Center's Worsham Theatre.

He was referring to media reports on economic indicators that are released then later revised. The initial indicators receive a great deal of media attention, but the revised reports - which are more accurate - often go unreported or receive poor play in newspapers and on broadcast news programs.

"It's another thing that's interesting to me, the market for bad news even when there's good news," he said.

A recent example is the national unemployment rate of 5.7 percent. Earlier estimates had placed the rate at 5.9 percent, and some analysts had predicted unemployment as high as 6.1 percent, O'Neill said.

O'Neill did say there are areas that need attention, including recent cases of corporate executives filing misleading reports and obtaining huge benefits packages while their companies founder. "It never occurred to me we needed to be clearer with CEOs about their responsibilities," said O'Neill, a former chairman of Alcoa Inc. and a former president of International Paper Co.

He noted actions are being taken to correct those problems. "I think we're on our way to tightening up the system in a way that's unmistakable," O'Neill said.

"You won't be surprised to hear me say I believe President Bush deserves a good deal of credit" for the strength of the economy, O'Neill said. He credited Bush's 2001 tax cut initiative for preventing unemployment from rising to even higher levels. O'Neil estimated that without the tax package, 1 million more Americans would be jobless.

O'Neill's remarks preceded a discussion with a panel comprised of Kelly Swartz, a graduate student at the Gatton School of Business and Economics; Anne Shirley, a graduate student in the Martin School of Public Policy and Public Administration; Jeffrey Mace, a graduate student in the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce; Henry Jackson, owner of Jackson Industries of Nicholasville; Dan Bork, vice president of tax for Lexmark Inc.; and Kathy Gornick, owner of Thiel Audio of Lexington.


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