United States Senator and Chairman of the Finance Committee, Lloyd Bentsen (b.1921) was appointed the 69th Secretary of the Treasury by President Clinton in 1993. A decorated World War H-bomber pilot and business leader, Secretary Bentsen began a long and distinguished career of public service by representing south Texas in the House of Representatives for three terms from 1949 to 1955. Subsequently, Bentsen established a successful financial services company in Houston which he sold in 1970 to campaign and win a seat in the United States Senate.
Rising to chair the powerful Finance Committee, Bentsen's Senate record included legislation protecting the pensions of American workers, creating Individual Retirement Account (IRA), and improving access to health care for low income women and children. In 1988 he was his party's choice for vice president. Called ''the most valuable legislative asset Clinton has", Secretary Bentsen was the Administration's chief spokesman and principal architect for an economic program that witnessed a number of major accomplishments in less than two years. He was a staunch advocate of regaining control over federal finances and a major proponent of President Clinton's plan to reduce the deficit by $500 billion, which helped the U.S. regain credibility and leadership with the other industrialized nations. That program helped the economy recover and create over 5 million new jots during his tenure as Secretary.
An advocate of free trade, Bentsen's leadership helped ensure the passage of the North American Free Tade Agreement (NAFTA) eliminating trade barriers between the United States, Canada and Mexico as well as passage of the global treaty known as the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Bentsen had a major impact in promoting U.S. interests in the international financial institutions and ensured that the Treasury Department was a regular participant in the international summit process. Domestically, Secretary Bentsen also helped push the Interstate Banking and Branching Efficiency Act of 1994, which permits interstate branching of banks. He was also a pivotal figure in the passage of the 1994 crime bill, which banned assault rifles. Bentsen believes that "public service is the best way to affect the most lives, hopefully for the better," and often states publicly that all he wants said about his record is that "he made a difference".
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