Harvey Golub didn't mention it in his excellent Wall Street Journal rebuttal to Warren Buffett's call for higher taxes on the rich, and neither did the Wall Street Journal, but Mr. Golub and Mr. Buffett have a history. Mr. Golub was CEO of American Express from 1993 to 2001, which was a period of strong performance for the company's stock. Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway showed up in 1995 as American Express's largest shareholder, owning 10%.
When Harvey Golub was at American Express, he did a great job restoring the luster to the company's credit card. Unlike most corporate managers, he wasn't a big talker, but he delivered — dealing with issues of card acceptance, suppression, and creating a rewards program that matched Citi's offerings. He also used AXP's closed-loop information network to enhance offerings for cardholders. Mr. Buffett knows this well, as he has followed American Express from the days of Tino De Angelis and the The Great Salad Oil Swindle (the title of Norman Miller's book) in November 1963. He established a position in American Express in the aftermath of the salad oil swindle, understanding that people still trusted the company despite the evisceration of their balance sheet equity. What's more, he took a large position in AXP in 1995 when he saw that Harvey Golub was righting the card business after years of mismanagement.
It's interesting indeed that Mr. Golub would emerge from having Mr. Buffett's company as the largest shareholder in a successful business he ran not as a garden-variety Buffett fawner-acolyte, of which there are many, but rather as someone willing forcefully to confront and reject Mr. Buffett's campaign to raise tax rates.