At first blush, it seems that Timothy Geithner’s failure to pay taxes should disqualify him from serving as Treasury Secretary, yet as one who, for the past decade, has paid someone to do his taxes, I am willing to cut him some slack given that for “four of the years in question” he prepared his own returns.
That said, the president-elect has tapped Geithner to run the department responsible for collecting taxes. He should be more familiar with the tax code than the average citizen.Â As Tom Maguire puts it:
. . . it was tricky and he got bad tax advice – not a real resume boost for a former Under-Secretary of Treasury aspiring to the top job, but there it is.Â However, as of 2006 he knew he had a liability for 2001 and 2002 – where was his check?Â Was his conscience unruffled by his non-compliance?Â Or does Geithner have a “”Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on back taxes?
It’s not too soon, however, to see two big things this issue tells us about Obama’s transition and the media. First, as Jennifer Rubin asks, “what the heck is wrong with the Obama vetting process?” To be sure, when the Obama team learned of the problem, they alerted Geithner and he promptly paid his back taxes.Â Yet, they still allowed the nomination to proceed.
If Obama’s team was aware of the problem and Obama still appointed him, didn’t they think he owed the American people an explanation?Â That is, shouldn’t they have been more fortcoming about the nomination before he sent it to the Senate?
Perhaps, they were counting on the media according his nominee different treatment that they would a Republican in similar circumstances. Such a Republican, Rubin contends, would “surely” be “toast.”
I mean, as Jim Treacher points out, it’s “headline news” when a “plumber owed $1,000 in taxes that he didn’t even know about.” Of course the plumber in question dared challenge Obama rather than agree to serve in his Administration:
When you call out Obama during a rope line, the Media jumps into your history, and finds a tax lien you didn’t know you had.
If you are nominated for Treasury Secretary, and have four years of taxes you knew you owed, but didn’t pay, the Media yawns.
My sense is that if it weren’t for the conservative blogosphere bringing this up, the MSM would not be paying much attention as it shows that the Obama transition has been rockier than they care to acknowledge.