Saturday, January 17, 2009

Culture of Corruption: The Tim Geithner Songbook

Things aren't going to well in the “ open and transparent” Obama soon-to-be administration.

First, the Blago mess. Technically, the fact that Pay Rod Blagojevich put Pres. Elect Obama's senate seat up for sale on Ebay isn't really Obama's fault. Likewise, we can't blame Obama for the fact that likely tax cheat Charlie Rangel remains as head of Congress' Ways and Means committee, or for the S enator from Countrywide, Chris Dodd. However, the fact that these two thugs retain powerful positions in Congress we can soon lay at Obama's door. Given his huge majorities, you can't tell me that if he was serious about cleaning up corruption and “business as usual” in Washington that these two would still be around.

Though he did choose plagiarist and noted 40-watt bulb Joe Biden as VP....

But it became his problem, because the fallout increased scrutiny on the administration's appointees, likely causing Bill Richardson to withdraw. Richardson had been going around claiming for years that he had been drafted by the KC Athletics baseball team, a claim that he was later forced to admit was delusional, it's not surprising that his administration is now in the grips of a “pay to play”scandal.

What has to be disconcerting is that someone with his well established lack of character was considered for any government post other than court jester* .

Second victim may well be Timothy Geithner's appointment as Secretary of the Treasury. Mr. Geithner has now been caught not paying his FICA and other withholding taxes, and only paid up once the problem came up in the vetting process. For someone set to oversee the IRS, and billed as a brilliant economic and financial mind, this is not a good sign.

The “ignorance” defense from someone with longtime Treasury connections and work as President of the New York Fed doesn't exactly drip with plausibility.

As Byron York reports, Geithner's problems go well beyond a simple oversight, since he was reimbursed by the IMF for taxes he didn't pay, and the IMF makes an effort to make sure that Americans working there understand the tax issues.

Additionally, it certainly looks like he got special treatment from the IRS. Do you think that if you were a financial hot shot who didn't pay his FICA for several years, you would get off with only paying the back taxes and interest? No, you would be looking at substantial penalties and possible criminal charges. But don't look to the IRS to give their prospective boss the same treatment that you would get.

The bottom line on Geithner – either a) since he didn't use TurboTax or a competent accountant, he's too stupid to function as Secretary of the Treasury, or b) he's been busy knowingly engaging in tax evasion, which would render him morally unfit to oversee anything like the Treasury Department, where integrity should be beyond question.

Though I suppose that a) and b) could both apply.

* And if you are unhappy over Richardson's withdrawal removing any Hispanics from the cabinet, don't be. Even in the most insensitive racial bean counter reckoning, it doesn't do your ethnic group any good to be represented by corrupt men. Think about how well the Spiro Agnew thing worked out of the Greeks.