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1/16/2009
WHY GEITHNER HAS GOT TO GO

Barack Obama continually promised on the campaign trail that if elected, he would change the way that Washington works.

Yes, we shouldn’t pay too much attention to the rhetoric used by a candidate when he is running for office - especially someone like Obama whose Cotton Candy Candidacy was short on specifics and long on meaningless drivel.

But when you consider that the man made such a huge deal about bringing a “new kind of politics” to Washington and reforming the government, Obama’s attachment to Treasury Secretary Designate Timothy Geithner is both puzzling and troubling.

The DC Examiner thinks Geithner should get the hook:

Timothy Geithner, President-elect Barack Obama’s nominee for Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, didn’t pay his federal self-employment taxes for four years because he “forgot.” That is no longer a credible explanation in view of yesterday’s reporting by National Review’s Byron York. The claim that he forgot simply doesn’t square with the fact that for four years Geithner accepted reimbursement from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to cover federal taxes he had not paid, according to Senate confirmation documents examined by York. The IMF is an international agency and as such does not pay federal or state taxes owed by employees who are U.S. citizens.
More specifically, he failed to pay self-employment taxes - Social Security or Medicare - while employed at the IMF until he was audited by the IRS in 2006. At that point, Geithner made good on his 2003 and 2004 obligations, but still failed to pay the amounts due for 2002 and 2001. It was only after he was named by Obama to succeed Henry Paulson at Treasury that Geithner took care of the obligations for 2001 and 2002.

This is especially damning because on the IMF’s Annual Tax Allowance Request, Geithner promised to “pay the taxes for which I have received tax allowance payments…” If, as The Wall Street Journal reported, Geithner was told by one of his accountants that he wasn’t obligated to pay the taxes, he shouldn’t have signed the IMF document promising to make the payments. Clearly, he should not have accepted the reimbursements.

Geithner also received an annual reminder from the IMF that he was responsible for paying his taxes. He applied for a reimbursement each year from 2001 through 2004, but then pocketed the cash instead of forwarding it to the IRS. Doing so four years in a row is not merely an “honest mistake,” as the Obama transition team maintains.

Geithner is lying when he says he “forgot” to pay his taxes. This is a given. It also insults our intelligence when he claims that his failure to pay the IRS what he owes is an “honest mistake.” We will now see if the rest of the Washington Democratic establishment plays along with Geithner and pretends they believe his lies, thus perpetrating a “business as usual” climate in the Obama government rather than the promised reform that so many believed so passionately he could bring about.

It is a little lie, a white lie, but telling nevertheless. And like Republican lawmakers preaching “family values” who get caught with their pants down around their ankles, anyone who preaches reform and changing the way Washington does business and then tolerates the bald faced lying of Geithner can and will be rightly accused of rank hypocrisy if they don’t do the right thing and yank this tax dodge from consideration for any high office in the Obama Administration.

Or are Democrats to be allowed a different standard of hypocrisy because of bad economic times? Politico’s Alex Burns thinks so:

It’s not that the usual voices are silent. But faced with a made-to-order personal financial scandal, there’s been only a half-hearted response in the political echo chamber, and the consensus among Washington and media elites seems to be that the economic moment is too serious to be distracted by Geithner’s tax problems.

It’s easy to imagine how things could have turned out differently.

Bill Clinton saw two nominees for attorney general go down when the public responded with fury to revelations that they’d hired illegal nannies. George W. Bush lost a cabinet nominee in the same way. And in 2006 members of Congress found themselves on the wrong end of totally unexpected outrage over a deal to lease American ports to a foreign company, Dubai Ports World.

In many or most of these cases, media commentators and even members of Congress initially reacted with shrugs. Only later, after public anger flared, did Washington join the frenzy.

To date, only a few major voices have spoken out to criticize Geithner. And if there’s a reserve of populist resentment over his appointment, it hasn’t yet erupted into the national media, as in previous nomination controversies.

Perhaps the “consensus” (read, Groupthink) among the press is that Geithner is irreplacable, that the Treasury position is so vital in these perilous financial times that any and all transgressions committed by the nominee must be overlooked for the good of the country.

Bulls**t.

I don’t think even the Bush Administration would have made that argument and they had a few doozies over the years. But incredibly, even Republicans agree with it:

Revelations that Timothy Geithner failed to pay some of his taxes have derailed Democrats’ efforts to install him quickly as President-elect Barack Obama’s treasury secretary, but senators in both parties say his tax problems won’t torpedo his chances for confirmation.

Obama said Wednesday that the disclosures that Geithner had failed to pay $34,000 in taxes between 2001 and 2004 were embarrassing, but added that Geithner’s “innocent mistake” shouldn’t keep him from taking the helm of the new administration’s urgent efforts to revive the economy. Several Republicans agreed that Geithner would get Senate approval and said their party had little appetite for a partisan fight at a precarious time for the economy.

GOP opponents of Geithner should “think this through,” said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah., a member of the Senate Finance Committee that’s considering his nomination. “They’re not going to get anybody better than him from this administration for treasury secretary.”

GOP Senators won’t make a stink because the issue of Geithner’s taxes isn’t on the radar. And the reason its not on the radar is because the press is not covering the issue the way they should and frame it as an “Epic Fail” (a term we will be using a lot over the next 4 years I suspect) of the Obama Administration to live up to their own campaign promise to reform Washington and change the way the government does business.

In a smart political move, the new Administration has put a temporary hold on Geithner’s confirmation hearing. They are waiting for the issue to blow over when, we assume, both Republicans and Democrats can spend the hearings trying to outdo one another in praise of the candidate’s qualifications and integrity.

Welcome to the new Washington. Same as the old Washington.

By: Rick Moran at 12:50 pm
22 Responses to “WHY GEITHNER HAS GOT TO GO”
  1. 1
    michael reynolds Said:
    1:12 pm 

    Every quarter my accountant sends me some stuff to sign and I do. Tells me how big a check to make out and I do. I pay attention to what I’m good at, and delegate that stuff to him.

    Once a year or so I have to negotiate a book contract. My lawyer explains stuff to me over the phone while I read blogs and say, “Uh huh.” Then I sign the contract. For all I know I’ve agreed to help establish the Fourth Reich.

    I just leased a car. No idea what’s in the documents I signed. I sign off on various software terms of service. No idea what any of those say.

    People delegate. So it’s not necessarily bullshit that Geithner didn’t know. That’s an assumption. Like assuming I know what’s on page 32 of my contract just because I signed it. You might fairly conclude I’m careless and indifferent to detail, (which might be damning enough in Geithner’s case) but you could not conclude that I knew said details.

    As for the reason that Geithner’s taxes aren’t on the media’s radar, I suspect it has something to do with the way our (still) president and his brain-dead party have driven the country off a cliff. As we plummet it may be that the media has more pressing things on its collective mind. What with the whole bailing out of banks, rescuing of auto companies, nosediving property values, blown up 401K’s, job-losing, health-insurance-losing, staring at a depression, in trouble in Afghanistan, middle east erupting again thing going on, maybe they’re covering stories other than the latest Republican “nyah nyah nyah, you promised change” whine. (Also, US Airways landed in a river and there’s video, so the media are helpless.)

    All the “change I can believe in” that I require from Mr. Obama is to be less of a screaming disaster than the one your preferred party has stuck us with over the last 8 years. In fact if we could rise to the level of mediocre, I’d be thrilled.

    Excuse me but please read what this guy is accused of. If it were just a question of him signing his form prepared by his accountant, that’s an “honest mistake.”

    But when he is reiumbursed by the IMF for taxes and then “forgets” to turn that money over to the IRS, that’s a whole different ball of wax. He had the check in his hand and knew damn well where it was supposed to go. And if you believe differently, I have a nice bridge here in Streator I’d like to sell you. It is a magic bridge that when you walk on it takes you far, far away where the unicorns roam and dragons are friendly.

    ed.

  2. 2
    sknabt Said:
    2:50 pm 

    “GOP Senators won’t make a stink because the issue of Geithner’s taxes isn’t on the radar. And the reason its not on the radar is because the press is not covering the issue the way they should and frame it as an ‘pic Fail’ (a term we will be using a lot over the next 4 years I suspect) of the Obama Administration to live up to their own campaign promise to reform Washington and change the way the government does business.” [emphasis added]

    Ah yes. Any conservative in any argument can parrot the liberal media cover-up meme. Funny, a Google search of “Geithner taxes” using their news filter grabs 4,333 hits.

    The real story is the mainstream media isn’t obsessing over the issue as much as right-wing talk radio, the red blogs, and Fox News is. Proof of left-wing bias. ;)

    Do I think Geithner is probably fudging? Probably. Want to kick him to the corner over this? Fine. We’ll probably lose a very (if not the most) competent man for the job. But that’s okay, I’m sure we can dig up someone else.

    But the real issue here is a chance for the far right to sanctimoniously thump their chests and poke a stick in the eye of Obama, the real target.

    That’s how we can have Rush Limbaugh and his clones obsessing over a couple hundred dollar Edwards haircut while ho-humming over Palin spending obscene amounts on cloths and a personal make-up artist.

    While I don’t condone Geithner dodging taxes since I pay mine, I’m not going to kid myself right-wingers aren’t going to hyperventilate over any candidate Obama selects unless he/she shares their tax-cut cure-all simple-mindedness and preference for economic Darwinism.

    You’re as hypocritical as Obama. And the point about the media is being made not just by the right but by many others as well - including Burns in Politico and MSNBC among others.

    Excuse the sin because the guy is the “most qualified?” The irony is killing me.

    ed.

  3. 3
    Geithner must go! What happens if you or I made “forgot” to pay $30,000 in taxes? | Fire Andrea Mitchell! Pinged With:
    5:42 pm 

    [...] B. Hussein Obama continually promised on the campaign trail that if elected, he would change the way that Washington works. Yes, we shouldn’t pay too much attention to the rhetoric used by a candidate when he is running for office – especially someone like Obama whose Cotton Candy Candidacy was short on specifics and long on meaningless drivel. Lets see the so called “new style” so far. Climate “Czar” Carol Browner and her ties to socialsm, Bill Richardson and his pay to play problem, Chief of State Rahm Emanule’s possible links to BlagObamagate, and of course the Attorney General pick of Eric Holder who pardoneed Marc Rich and Puetro Rican terrorists, during his time under Clinton. But when you consider that the man made such a huge deal about bringing a “new kind of politics” to Washington and reforming the government, Obama’s attachment to Treasury Secretary Designate Timothy Geithner is both puzzling and troubling. [...]

  4. 4
    Surabaya Stew Said:
    6:17 pm 

    Keep in mind that Obama is still in his honeymoon phase with the American public and media. Were this to happen a year from now with the honeymoon over, Geithner would probably not survive the backlash. He just got lucky timing for a scandal, thats all.

  5. 5
    Chris Said:
    6:37 pm 

    Well I’m a tax professional (CPA) and I’ll say I’m not scandalized. The guy prepared his own taxes, probably using Turbotax. Believe it or not, even a smart, educated buy like this didn’t necessarily read the documentation that came with the statement of his IMF income(which, since it was foreign-sourced, wouldn’t involve the usual IRS approved forms). So he filled in the Miscellaneous Income line without checking the “subject to SE tax” box. He’s an economist, not a tax nerd. Of course, he shouldn’t have been preparing his own return. I know this sounds self serving, but nobody who has anything more than a W-2 should.

  6. 6
    John Howard Said:
    8:36 pm 

    But the real issue here is a chance for the far right to sanctimoniously thump their chests and poke a stick in the eye of Obama, the real target.

    Whining like a crybaby already? Four more days and it’s all Democrats 24/7. It’ll all be yours, dude. All your responsibility.

    Man up and get used to it.

  7. 7
    Maggie's Farm Trackbacked With:
    8:51 am 

    Saturday links…

    Got an email from the NJ in Maine. He had minus 19 degrees F last night, with snow flurries. Lowest thermometer he’d ever seen in person. Possibly too cold for downhill skiing, even for tough guys. Sounds like pub weather to me. I have heard a number …

  8. 8
    Increase Mather Said:
    9:40 am 

    The mainstream press is totally corrupt; to the point where I believe it is likely some correspondents are on the take.

    Soros has money…the big nets and papers love Soros’s positions and candidates.

    Coinicidence?

  9. 9
    KBK Said:
    10:55 am 

    Prepared his own tax returns? With what, a pencil? He’s going to be in charge of the IRS and didn’t notice that his W-2 had no FICA withholding? Turbotax didn’t try to remit FICA on the income earned? He doesn’t know what FICA is?

    When caught, he didn’t pay it all, even then. He stiffed the rest of us for the balance because the statute had run and the IRS couldn’t compel him. Only when the vetters caught him did he cough up the rest.

    Just nominating him sets a terrible example. And to have a tax cheat as Secretary of the Treasury, responsible for the IRS, is incomprehensible.

  10. 10
    Sara in VA Said:
    11:34 am 

    Epic Fail, love the term, love it.

    Senators in both parties are defending the guy as “brilliant” and insist he should be confirmed.

    The supposedly-most-brilliant people in the room have led us to where we are today, either by accident or gleeful design, and therefore the term should be an immediate disqualifier.

    The dude is at a minimum self-serving, who will write and enforce laws for average people, like me, whom he never bothers to notice, when his driver chauffers him to his next important meeting.

    I am sick of this type of white collar “criminal” running my country into the ground. Competence? Isn’t that best defined by result? If not, it should be. His results SUCK. Let the B-students run the place for awhile. Couldn’t do worse, unless they’re cheaters too.

  11. 11
    obamathered Said:
    12:12 pm 

    Geihtner simply must not be confirmed. After it emerged that he had been reimbursed for his unpaid taxes, that was the last straw. Republican Senators need to man up and oppose this nomination with the same gusto as they should oppose the graft-ready “economic stimulus bill.” So far they haven’t, but the ground has shifted so much they may surprise us.

  12. 12
    michael reynolds Said:
    12:45 pm 

    Oh, look: Chris the tax preparer agrees with me that it could be an honest (albeit careless) mistake. The assumption that Geithner had to know is just that: an assumption.

    More information may come out but right now there’s no prima facie case that Geithner deliberately did anything wrong. And if the standard is that we can only hire people who’ve never made an error on a US tax return we’re going to have to start hiring from abroad. If you’ve filed taxes you’ve made errors.

    Ooops!

    http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MmY2ODY3MzkxZTViMGFkNDA3YjY3YzZlYTQ1ODEyNDU=

    ed.

  13. 13
    michael reynolds Said:
    3:47 pm 

    Your “oops” is fact-free and assumption-heavy.

    The IMF spokesman is operating from an absurd premise: that his ethics office has a clear and complete picture of all tax problems involving IMF members allowing him to declaim authoritatively on the incidence of tax problems among IMF employees. This is nonsense.

    Beyond that we have unnamed sources expressing a sort of vague dubiousness.

    And all of that in the National Review.

    You are still operating on the assumption that Geithner must have known, and nothing has yet supported that position. It remains an assumption. I’m not advancing the opposite assumption that he must not have known, just saying it’s entirely possible.

  14. 14
    cdor Said:
    3:53 pm 

    I don’t give a poop what or how much the MSM says about Geithner. I can read and judge for myself. Rick’s reply to M Reynolds, kbk, and sara…all right on the money.

    In this great big country with the worlds largest economy, don’t tell me this guy is all we’ve got. Our congresscritters simply are scared and gutless.

    “Bu, but he knows Paulson. And,and he knows how to do what Paulson was doing. And,and…”

    Yea right, and look where that’s gotten us. So what’s the conclusion?

    Simply this: Geithner’s either a cheat, a swindler, an idiot, or he’s got his head up his ass.

    But he sure is brilliant! Better hire him right now or the country’s goin’ down the tubes.

    Yikes!!

  15. 15
    ajacksonian Said:
    7:05 pm 

    No, his mistake was not using TurboTax which flags the lack of contributions. He isn’t smart enough to buy a program to remind him he should pay his taxes. And if he couldn’t shell out a bit more for H&R block and say it was their fault, then just what sort of idiot are we getting? He certainly makes enough to afford decent tax preparation… or is it only the ‘little people’ who are supposed to do that and if you make over a certain amount you can forego it?

    Yes, indeed, if you do your own taxes you probably get it wrong: that is the problem with the tax code. If he doesn’t realize *that* then I really, truly, don’t want him in Treasury… where this sort of thing would prevent him from being hired on the civil side.

  16. 16
    Chris the CPA Said:
    9:45 pm 

    KBK sez:

    “Prepared his own tax returns? With what, a pencil? He’s going to be in charge of the IRS and didn’t notice that his W-2 had no FICA withholding? Turbotax didn’t try to remit FICA on the income earned? He doesn’t know what FICA is?”

    Dude, a foreign entity (the IMF) doesn’t send W-2’s. At best he got a statement. If you want to believe he just tried to get away with something, fine, but at least know what the hell you’re talking about.

  17. 17
    shishkabob Said:
    2:09 am 

    Optimism is sweeping the nation. People are happy to see Barack Hussein Obama become the new President.

    I’m going to make popcorn for the swearing in. Maybe open a bottle of wine.

    What are you guys doing to celebrate?

  18. 18
    Sara in VA Said:
    9:54 am 

    shishkabob #17

    Popcorn is fitting, since this is a drama-comedy, and wine will relax you for the seduction, eh? Enjoy stroking yourself through it. Sorry to be vulgar (I’m not normally so) but there’s no other way to understand people like you without envisioning non-producers laying-about on the couch.

    Unfortunately, Atlas Shrugged is a long novel, and we haven’t even made it to Part II yet.

    Oh, PS, I’ll be working, earning money/tax revenues to help pay for your lifestyle.

    saraforamerica

  19. 19
    cdor Said:
    11:19 am 

    I’ll celebrate that shiskabob and all his brethren are celebrating after eight years of being depressed.

    I’ll celebrate that McCain isn’t in charge, because I think he is basically clueless and would have done absolutely nothing to further conservatism.

    And I’ll pray (because prayer is all I’ve got to go with here, sorry Rick) that Obama isn’t who I think he is and that he will help lead the U.S. out of these economic doldrums while keeping our western civilization safe from the onslaught of Islamofascism.

    I will remain, however, skeptical and critical for I do not believe the Messiah has arrived.

    Sorry about that, shishkabob.

  20. 20
    Nagarajan Sivakumar Said:
    1:53 pm 

    Folks,
    For those of you who think that we are “assuming” that Geithner is guilty, you are too trusting of our Government officials.

    Tim Geithner is the same age as Obama - 47 years old. He started his career in 1985 with Kissinger and Associates. so he has been receiving a W2 for most of his career and paying payroll taxes for the same period of time. It was only in 2001 that he started working for the IMF.

    So he suddenly now forgets to pay payoll taxes ? Or does’nt know that you have to pay these taxes as an American worker working for an International organization located in America ?

    My best guess is that Geithner just didnt care. He knew that if the IRS came back to him later, he could always pay it back along with the penalty. If not, he could get away scot free.

    In the mean time he now has 36,000$ that he can invest in the markets in and make a neat little profit - so even if he gets caught later and has to pay a penalty he could possibly more than cover for it. Of course it also means that he has to pay increased capital gains taxes, but what if he could atleast avoid payroll taxes to the tune of 36 Grand ?

    Geithner also figured that even though this could be an embarrassment down the line, it would nt exactly be career threatening - not when people think that you are the protege of big shots like Larry Summers or Robert Rubin.

    This guy can take risks or what ?

  21. 21
    Neo Said:
    10:54 am 

    I just love the excuse that Geithner is so good that this “little problem” should be overlooked.

    Wasn’t this the same excuse invoked to use the extraordinary interrogation techniques (AKA torture) ?

  22. 22
    Neo Said:
    8:54 pm 

    In the new “era of responsibility” just how can we have a Secretary Of the Treasury that give “I Dunno” as the reason he didn’t pay his taxes ?

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