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Secrecy Enthusiast Appointed USA Budget Director


If You're in Favor of Buttoned-Down Secrecy in the Budget Office
You'll Love the New OMB Director

Press Release/News Article by & Democratic Underground
Consider the following ideas for your news or commentary

President Bush announced Thursday that Josh Bolten would become the next director of the Office of Management and Budget, taking over from the outgoing Mitch Daniels. (Link )

He's genetically predisposed to silence. Bolten, 48, is the son of a Seymour Bolten, a CIA agent who worked in covert espionage. Both Josh and his father were cozy with George H.W. Bush. Though Bolten is one of the most powerful policymakers in the world, he has said he likes his own life undercover and prefers not to do interviews. (Link)

He is one of the closed-lips defendants named in the Dick Cheney secret energy task force lawsuit, filed by Judicial Watch ( The Bush administration refused to hand over documents that relate specifically to Cheney and Bolten, among others. (Link)

Bolten already has experience doling out money, at least to corporate interests. He chaired the "Domestic Consequence Group," a blandly worded euphemism for the quiet economic crisis group in the White House which helped co-ordinate the $15 billion airline bailout in 2001. (Link)

Not everyone is comfortable with him. An aide to Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-GA), who, under tremendous pressure from Bush, sold out the patients' bill of rights, claims that Bolten "screwed us over." According to the New Republic, the man who muscled Norwood into bashing patient's rights was none other than the hush-hush Joshua Bolten.

According to the New Republic article (August 2001), Bolten is involved in almost every aspect of policy in the White House, and to some extent has superseded Mr. Bush's longtime adviser from Texas, Karl Rove. "The anonymous fourth man in the inner circle of Bush's staff, Bolten is far less well-known than [Chief of Staff] Andy Card, Karl Rove…but inside the White House, few doubt his importance," the magazine's Ryan Lizza writes. "The three spheres of White House policy-making - Margaret La Montagne's Domestic Policy Council, Larry Lindsey's National Economic Council, and Condoleezza Rice's National Security Council -- all report to him. Technically, Bolten is even Karl Rove's immediate superior. Since Bolten is the traffic cop for Bush's briefings, no policy matter comes before the president without his blessing.

According to White House congressional lobbyist Nick Calio, `He's got his hands in virtually everything at the White House, though. All policy matters report to him eventually.'"

A Question for George W: Will Bolten change his secretive style to one of greater transparency, access, and openness when he runs the budget office?

Bolten was one of the quiet strategists who created the Office of Homeland Security, along with White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. and Tom Ridge. (Link)

"He is very secretive, but has his fingerprints all over President Bush's new $600 billion economic plan, the legislation creating the Department of Homeland Security and just about every other domestic policy concocted in his powerful little corner deep in the West Wing," wrote the New York Times. (Link)

If you like the economy, if you think the tax cut plan is a dandy idea, you'll love Josh Bolten

Josh Bolten is a key architect of the Bush economic plan.

"The president continues these crazy economic policies, not based on anything but the president's whim," said Rep. Bob Matsui (D-CA) California, in a May 2003 Democratic press conference aired on C-Span.

Well, Representative Matsui, meet your new budget director. He developed the whim.

"But there is a method to their madness, and that is to change the social structure of this country," said Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) "…They want to roll back the social programs that are the safety net for this country.

Memo to Josh Bolten: Putting a trillion dollars into the hands of the wealthiest people in America will not buy washing machines and cars. The president's stubborn and failed approach to reviving this economy is turning into a nightmare.

"I've heard so many times that Josh Bolten is effectively the Secretary of the Treasury in absentia, because of the power that he wields on economic policy," said one senior Senate Republican leadership aide, reported by Sun National, May 9 2003. (Link)

Hatchet Man

According to the Washington Post (Dec. 7, 2002) Bolten was involved in pushing Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and National Economic Council director Lawrence Lindsey to resign, after Bush decided he needed stronger messengers to communicate with voters. "Bush reached the final decision after a meeting Wednesday with political adviser Karl Rove, Chief of Staff Andrew Card and deputy chief of staff Joshua Bolten." (Link)

Protecting U.S. Drug Manufacturers

"Paragraph 6" -- Josh Bolten is believed to have been heavily involved in the Doha para 6 negotiations, on behalf of PhRMA (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturing of America.) In the USA, the big PhRMA fire power came from the White House, and US negotiators had almost no real negotiating freedom. Though Bolten was, characteristically, silent, there was plenty of evidence that Bush's own economic team (Gary Edson and Josh Bolten) was deeply involved in the negotiations.

What exactly is "Paragraph 6?" Think of it this way: Prescriptions for World's Poorest Will Stay Unwritten

According to Guardian Newspapers, 2/19/2003: The pharmaceutical lobby provided nearly $60m in funding in the recent mid-term US elections, helping the Republicans win key seats…Now, as one official puts it, "it's pay-back time; the industry is calling in its favours." At issue was how the rules should be interpreted to allow manufacturers to export copycat drugs to countries too poor to make their own, such as most within sub-Saharan Africa, which is in the grip of the Aids pandemic.

Bolten and the Bush Campaign Promises

He was a key architect of George W. Bush campaign, according to E.J. Dionne, of the Brookings Institution. (Link)
During the campaign, even Republicans became offended by what some considered "doubletalk," following a meeting with Bolten.

According to "National Politics" (Oct 2 1999) a senior House Republican aide said staff members who talked to Bolten, who was at that time Bush's Policy Director, about the Republican plan for the earned-income tax credit, Bolten indicated no opposition to it. But during the campaign, Bush turned on them, accusing House Republicans of trying to "balance their budget on the backs of the poor." Bush campaigned on the assertion that he was an inclusive, peacemaking, compassionate conservative. Even before he was elected, some disagreed. "We were double-crossed," the aide said, after the meeting with Josh Bolten. (

According to CNN September 4, 2000

"Quietly running Bush's campaign policy meeting was Josh Bolten, the Bush campaign's 45-year-old policy director."

Bolten and his staff were cagey about the prescription drugs plan. "Gore plans to give an economic speech that's sure to hammer home his charge that Bush's tax cut is so big it doesn't leave room for the drugs plan. Bolten's forces will send out spreadsheets saying that isn't so."

During the campaign, Bolten's policy plan became so comprehensive that the Democrat Leadership Council (DLC) complained that Bush had poached ideas from their plan. (Link)

Josh Bolten's Official Bio

From 1999 to 2000, Josh Bolten was Policy Director of the Bush-Cheney 2000 Presidential campaign and the Bush-Cheney Presidential Transition. From 1994-1999, he was Executive Director, Legal & Government Affairs for Goldman Sachs International in London. In the previous Bush administration, Josh was General Counsel to the U.S. Trade Representative and Deputy Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs. Previously, he was International Trade Counsel to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee.

Concerns About Josh Bolten

Mitch Daniels, who he will replace, was not an ideologue; he did his job as a number cruncher and a fiscal conservative. He made enemies on the hill when he was snippy about their pork habits. But, in the end, he overcame his fiscal conservativeness to serve the Bush team in their quest for more money for their cronies (ala tax cuts). He didn't look too comfortable in that part of the job.

Now the picture of Bolten: Ideologue and agenda pusher/manhandler. There will be a huge conflict in this particular position between the job (reporting budget projections, transparent management of government funds) and the political role he has been playing. This means he is a perfect fit for the Rove political machine -- but perhaps not such a great fit for the rest of the country who deserve to actually have an office of budget and management, not an office of Enron accounting to make our economy "appear healthy." Secrecy has no place when he is handling OUR money.

And a word about Bolten's Father, CIA Espionage Agent

"When Bush (George H.W. Bush) saw the AP story in the Washington Star, he asked for an internal CIA review to verify the story (it was true), and if it would 'cause problems for Helms.' Helms lied to a Senate committee about the CIA's role in subverting Chilean democracy and would later be convicted for contempt of Congress.

"After investigating, Bush assistant Seymour Bolten reported the exposure of Helms' false testimony to the Warren Commission would probably cause Helms 'some anxious moments,' though not 'any additional legal problems.' But Bush was assured that a 'slightly better' story had resulted from an Agency phone call to AP 'protesting that Martin's story was sloppy.' Additionally, Bush was told that an unnamed journalist had 'advised his editors...not to run the AP story.'

"Bolten complained to Bush: ' This is another example where material provided to the press and public in response to FOIA requests is exploited mischievously and is distorted to make headlines.' One might more accurately describe it as an occasion where Bush's CIA pressured one news outlet to back away from an accurate story while using a connection in the press corps to suppress it in another (Bowen 55-6)." (Link and Link)

Aaah, secrecy, and the New American Century.


- This news release prepared by in conjunction with citizen researchers at Democratic Underground. It appears online here:


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