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Senate backs Paulson for Treasury

Goldman chief wins bipartisan acclaim

WASHINGTON --The Senate yesterday cleared the way for Goldman Sachs chief Henry Paulson to be the country's next Treasury secretary.

The chamber approved the nomination in a voice vote. The action came just hours after the nomination won the endorsement of the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees the Treasury Department.

Paulson, a 32-year Wall Street veteran, is the chairman and chief executive of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., a financial powerhouse.

Both Democrats and Republicans welcomed Paulson's nomination.

``I am convinced he is the right man at the right time," said Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon .

Senator Kit Bond, Republican of Missouri, called Paulson a ``very strong choice for Treasury secretary."

Beset by low job approval ratings, Bush is looking to Paulson to help energize the administration's stalled second-term economic agenda.

The White House has not given plans for Paulson's swearing in.

During a nearly three-hour hearing on his nomination Tuesday, Paulson, 60, hewed to the Bush administration's stance on a range of economic policies.

For instance, although he thinks it would be wise to trim the federal budget deficit, he said it would be a mistake to raise taxes to help fix the problem. He also said he would focus on prodding China to revamp its currency policy, a practice critics blame for contributing to the United States' record-high trade deficit and to the loss of US factory jobs.

He said he wants to crack down on abusive tax shelters, work on ways to collect billions in taxes owed to the government, and simplify the tax code.

Paulson would be President Bush's third treasury secretary and would succeed John Snow, who has held the post since February 2003.

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