Integrity has left the building
There is something seriously wrong with a world in which it is okay to appoint, much less confirm, a man to be head of the Department of Treasury who failed to pay his taxes for four years.
Secretary of Treasury designee Timothy Geithner today claimed, under oath, that he used Turbo Tax and did not recall whether or not the software reminded him to pay self employment tax. Jim Gereghty has an interesting series on TurboTaxGate today. But I have a more fundamental question, that should be asked regardless of whether Geithner used TurboTax or KPMG to pay his taxes: Shouldn’t the Secretary of Treasury be able to pay his taxes without screwing up? I’m a lawyer, so maybe I’m at a different skill level, but I think that anyone asking to be put in charge of the most aggressive (and least accountable) government agency should, at the very least, be capable of reading, understanding and applying its rules.
I know people in Washington think (I’ve even heard Charles Krauthammer say this) this is faux pas and should not prevent him from being confirmed. But since when are people in Washington the best judges of ethics, morality or even competence?
“We need him,” they say. Is Geithner the only person capable of doing this job? Was he born on Krypton and sent here by his father to save us from a recession? Can we not find a person who is just as qualified and yet still intelligent enough to be able to pay his taxes properly?
It is absurd and insulting to even consider a person to head the IRS (much less all of Treasury) who hasn’t paid their taxes, whether through criminal intent, naked opportunism or simple negligence. This is no different than when Bernie Kerik was forced to step down as Bush’s nominee for Homeland Security because he had hired an undocumented worker. Is Timothy Geithner, understudy to the heretofore infallible Robert Rubin and Larry Summers, more indespensible than the guy who helped save New York City?
No, it’s just that Bernard Kerik has something that most politicians don’t have, and Mr. Geithner is showing none of, integrity. Mr. Geithner should withdraw his name from consideration and stop the farce.
Put this together with Obama’s other designees. You have a designee for Attorney General who admits he “wasn’t paying attention” when he approved, knowing it was not his job, patently inappropriate pardons. You have a Secretary of State whose husband is still taking money from foreign countries. What’s next? A Surgeon General who’s a Christian Scientist?