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Barber Conable: Wikis


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Barber Benjamin Conable, Jr. (November 2, 1922 – November 30, 2003) was a U.S. Congressman and president of the World Bank. Conable was an Eagle Scout and received the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America.



Conable was born in Warsaw, New York on November 2, 1922. He graduated from Cornell University in 1942, where he was president of the Quill and Dagger society and a member of the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity. He then enlisted in the Marines and was sent to the Pacific front in World War II, where he learned to speak Japanese and fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima. After the war, he received his law degree from Cornell University Law School in 1948. He later re-enlisted and fought in the Korean War.

In 1962, Conable was elected as a Republican to the New York State Senate. After only one term, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1964 from a Rochester-based district. He was reelected nine more times. He was known on both sides of the aisle for his honesty and integrity, at one point being voted by his colleagues the "most respected" member of Congress; he refused to accept personal contributions larger than $50. As longtime ranking minority member of the House Ways and Means Committee, one of his signal legislative achievements was a provision in the U.S. tax code that made so-called 401(k) and 403(b) defined-contribution retirement plans possible, and contributions to those plans by both employers and employees tax-deferred, under federal tax law.

A long-time ally of Richard Nixon, Conable broke with him in disgust after the revelations of the Watergate scandal. When the White House released a tape of Nixon instructing his Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman to obstruct the FBI investigation, Conable said it was a "smoking gun", a phrase which quickly entered the political folklore.

Conable retired from the House in 1984. In 1986, President Ronald Reagan appointed him president of the World Bank. His experience as a legislator proved crucial as he persuaded his former colleagues to almost double Congress's appropriations for the Bank. He retired in 1991.

Conable married Charlotte Williams in 1952 and remained married to her until he died from a staphylococcus infection in 2003, at his winter home in Sarasota, Florida.

Literature by and about Conable

  • Window on Congress: A Congressional Biography of Barber B. Conable, Jr., James S. Fleming, Rochester, New York: University of Rochester Press, 2004, ISBN 1-58046-128-X.
  • The Conable Years at the World Bank: Major Policy Addresses of Barber B. Conable, 1986–91, Barber B. Conable, Jr., Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 1991, ISBN 0-8213-1901-9.
  • Congress and The Income Tax, Barber B. Conable, Jr. and Arthur L. Singleton, Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1989, ISBN 0-8061-2195-5.
  • Controlling the Cost of Social Security: Held on June 25, 1981 and Sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, Barber B. Conable, Jr., John Charles, et al., Washington, D.C.: The Institute, 1981, ISBN 0-8447-2225-1.
  • Foreign Assistance in a Time of Constraints, Barber B. Conable, Jr., Richard S. Belous, S. Dahlia Stern, and Nita Christine Kent, eds., Washington, D.C.: National Planning Association, 1995, ISBN 0-89068-132-5.
  • Papers at Cornell University.

See also


New York State Senate
Preceded by
Austin Erwin
New York State Senate, 53rd District
Succeeded by
Kenneth Willard
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Harold C. Ostertag
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 37th congressional district

Succeeded by
Thaddeus J. Dulski
Preceded by
James M. Hanley
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 35th congressional district

Succeeded by
District 35 eliminated after of the 1980 Census
Preceded by
David O'B. Martin
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 30th congressional district

Succeeded by
Fred J. Eckert
Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
Alden W. Clausen
President of the World Bank
Succeeded by
Lewis T. Preston


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