Senator rips Bush budget's accusations of micromanagement

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., Thursday pointedly dressed down Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill during a Budget Committee hearing over a cartoon contained in President Bush's fiscal 2003 budget and comments that O'Neill recently made disparaging congressional rules.

Holding up Bush's budget, Byrd expressed disgust with an old editorial cartoon depicting Gulliver tied down by Lilliputians in a section titled "Freedom to Manage," and the accompanying text stating that federal mangers "lack much of the discretion given their private sector counterparts to get the job done."

In the face of a lecture from the Congress' leading historian and foremost guardian of the legislative branch's power of the purse, a clearly angered O'Neill struggled to maintain his composure and refused to "cede the high moral ground" to Byrd.

O'Neill stood by his comments to the National Association of Business Economists when he complained: "The rules that have been created by just ordinary people are in some ways more and more like the Lilliputians tying us to the ground ... I don't know why we have to live by these rules. After all, they were only made by other people. And so far as I can tell, God didn't send them."

O'Neill told Byrd he was referring in general to "rules that limit the realization of human potential," which he likened to segregation in the Jim Crow South, which O'Neill said once permitted rules such as "colored don't enter here."

But Byrd, who has tangled with equal ferocity with other members of this and previous administrations, charged that O'Neill was referring to the so-called Byrd rule on budget reconciliation, which--as applied last year--required the $1.35 trillion tax cut to be sunset after 10 years.

Byrd lectured O'Neill about the history and authority behind congressional rules, and scolded, "Mr. Secretary, you probably should have had a good study course in American history before you came up here."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.