Barack Obama, like George W. Bush before him, is starting off with loyalty as a fault. Continuing to stand behind Timothy Geithner for Treasury Secretary is not a change we can believe in. It’s the same old politics of one set of rules for the Joe the Plumbers of the world and a second set for the privileged, well-connected nomenklatura.
Geithner is allegedly a brilliant career bureaucrat. He’s a political insider with his own ties to Obama, as Obama’s mother once reported to Geithner’s father. Having never worked in the private sector, he has cooked his personal books like one of the Wall Street swindlers Team Obama routinely excoriates.
Let us assume the oh-so brilliant Geithner – who does his own taxes because he is so smart – did innocently forget to pay the employer’s share of taxes related to an employee. That could happen; the Democrats sank Linda Chavez’ nomination as Labor Secretary over less.
Even so, there is the matter of Geithner’s own taxes. The International Monetary Fund sent notices to Geithner making clear he was responsible for his payroll taxes. He had direct knowledge that he was responsible, but he still refused to pay. He even accepted reimbursement from the IMF for those taxes and signed certifications that he’d paid them.
When he finally decided to pay, Geithner paid only enough to avoid potential criminal liability for failure to pay taxes. He willifully shortchanged the tax system even though he’d already been reimbursed for the taxes. There is no issue of mistake here. Geithner knew he had a tax obligation, took steps to pay his taxes, and deliberately paid only so much as to avoid criminal liability, but not so much as to pay his entire obligation.
Barack Obama wants this man as his Treasury Secretary. That job would put Mr. Geithner in charge of the very tax system he cheated, at a time when Democrats already have another tax cheat – Congressman Charlie Rangel – in charge of the committee that writes those tax laws. One tax cheat in charge of the tax system at a time is surely enough.
Average Americans do not get to cheat the tax system and become Treasury Secretary. If we are a nation wherein all men are created equal, either no American should be prosecuted for cheating on their taxes or Mr. Geithner should be rejected as Treasury Secretary.