WASHINGTON – President Bush accepted the long-expected resignation of Treasury Secretary John W. Snow on Tuesday and nominated a high-powered Wall Street figure, Goldman Sachs chairman Henry M. Paulson Jr., to replace him.
Snow became the top-ranking official to leave the administration in a midterm shuffle that began when White House budget director Joshua Bolten became chief of staff two months ago. Snow joined CIA Director Porter J. Goss and White House press secretary Scott McClellan on the list of former administration officials.
Bush, at a brief White House ceremony, praised Paulson for his experience with financial markets and said he would be “my principal adviser” on economic policy.
But it was unclear how much Paulson would shape administration policy. Bush’s first Treasury secretary, Paul H. O’Neill, was frustrated that he did not have much influence. Snow found himself cast as a cheerleader for economic policies that were largely forged in the White House rather than at the Treasury Department.
Paulson, 60, seemed on track to win Senate confirmation, as even Democrats rallied to his side. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., praised his “deep understanding” of economic issues and called him “the best pick America could have hoped for.”
Paulson, a multimillionaire, received $30 million in overall compensation from Goldman Sachs in 2004. He raised at least $100,000 for Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign, a level that made him a “pioneer” in the Bush campaign.
Despite his Wall Street credentials, Paulson, who is chief executive as well as chairman of Goldman Sachs, a New York investment bank, received a rude welcome from investors. The Dow Jones industrial average tumbled 184 points, though mostly for reasons unrelated to the nomination.