Friday, January 16, 2009

Geithner's Enablers in the U.S. Senate

As if it were not insulting enough to the ordinary American that U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Tim Geithner, did not pay his social security taxes for three or four years until forced to do so, we are also told that no one but Tim Geithner can get our economy turned-around, nevermind that he's a tax evader.

NOTE: Thanks to Senators Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL) for standing strong on the principles of tax evasion. If you would like to personally thank the Senators, here is contact information: Senator DeMint and for Senator Sessions (Phone or fax only) This from the Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Geithner didn't make any Social Security or Medicare tax payments on his income during the years he worked for the IMF, though he did pay income taxes. After the Internal Revenue Service audited him in 2006 and discovered the payroll-tax errors, Mr. Geithner corrected them for 2003 and 2004. Only after Mr. Obama picked him for Treasury secretary last fall did Mr. Geithner pay the Social Security and Medicare tax he owed for 2001 and 2002.
So, in an audit of years 2003 and 2004, he was caught, and then paid his debt. But he was not "caught" for years 2001 and 2002, when he also cheated. A Team Obama spokesperson thinks Geithner received some bad advice from this tax accountant:
It's possible some of Mr. Geithner's problems stemmed from bad advice. In 2004, an accountant advised Mr. Geithner in writing that he did not owe employment taxes. An accountant who reviewed Mr. Geithner's 2001 tax return also didn't inform Mr. Geithner he owed taxes, according to an Obama aide familiar with the situation.
This is pathetic. Is this the kind of spin we are going to get out of the administration for the next four years? The soon-to-be Treasury Secretary should know tax law, ridiculous though it may be. Once audited for two years, and forced to pay up, he had to know, and his tax accountant had to know, that he failed to comply with the law for the two previous years. But wait, the WSJ says Geither DID NOT have a tax attorney for the first two years he was with the International Monetary Fund:
Mr. Geithner prepared his own federal-tax returns during the first two years he worked at the IMF, 2001 and 2002, according to the Senate Finance Committee report.
Then there's the fact that he was remibursed for what he should have paid, but didn't pay:
As an international body, the IMF doesn't withhold taxes for U.S. citizens, and employees are responsible for paying their taxes. The IMF pays employees additional tax allowances to cover federal and state income taxes, and the employer's portion of payroll taxes. The IMF informs U.S. employees about their tax allowance and what it covers and doesn't cover -- and that includes paying your payroll taxes," said Michael Mussa, a former IMF chief economist, who is now at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. "The IMF doesn't leave this out."
The increasingly annoying Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) considers Geithner's failure to pay taxes a "small" event in "political terms...." Seems about everyone thinks he'll find his confirmation a bit tough, but not tough enough to derail his confirmation. The New York Times quotes "several" unnamed "tax experts" saying that "it is an easy mistake of an international organization to make." There's no mention of the fact that he knew after an audit that he still owned for two previous years. It's obvious that Geithner did not plan to pay until and unless he was forced to do so. The Washington Post headlines with The Nomination That's Too Big to Fail, saying, "in the scandal-obsessed capital, the latest public peccadillo has been met by uncharacteristic indifference," and then quotes unnamed Republican senators:
The man is qualified, competent, one of the best choices the president has made," one member of the tax-writing Finance Committee said yesterday.
"I think he's a good man," another one said with a shrug.
"I don't believe there's any doubt about his qualifications," said a third.
"Nobody," WAPO says, "called a news conference to rail about the nominee." The tactic posed to comfort Americans in these troubling days, suggests that Geithner is the ONLY person to serve ably as Treasury Secretary in these "dire times." How can that be? No one else can do the job? Are we bethroning Geithner? We've already elected one king. That throne is getting a mighty overload. WAPO's reporter on this article, Dana Milbank, says "But mostly, senators have decided that times are too dire to be puritanical." I don't know about the "times," but it is a bit late for our Congress to think about acting puritanically." That train left that station in the 1980's. Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) had advice for future appointees:
Don't wait until after you're nominated to pay.
I don't know about you, but Roberts' comment is infuriating. It demonstrates so much that is so wrong with our Representatives and Senators. Milbank goes on:
The economy is in too much trouble to wait for another Treasury secretary to be nominated -- and Republicans know they aren't likely to get another appointment as good as Geithner, who worked closely with the Bush administration while running the New York Fed. Put another way, the guy is too big to fail.
More on some wanna-be puritanical Republicans:
"Talented people like Tim Geithner are needed right now," he told Fox News [Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH)]. And it doesn't explain Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who told the Post's Shailagh Murray: "I'm not one who holds mistakes against people." Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa), the top Republican on the Finance Committee, said he hasn't "any doubt" about Geithner's qualifications and praised him as "a relative political independent."
Senator Grassley is praising Geithner as a "relative political independent," and Milbank asks "Could it be that Barack Obama has already brought a new, post-partisan era to Washington? An answer to that question might be found at Right Pundits' discussion of the Washington Post's ties to Timothy Geithner. It's an eye-opening look at how financial [Federal Reserve Bank] and media powerhouses work together...and not for the good of you and me.

©2007-2012copyrightMaggie M. Thornton