Senate Confirms Geithner for Treasury Post

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Timothy F. Geithner was confirmed Monday night by the Senate as the secretary of the Treasury after a sizable bipartisan majority concluded that his experience in government and finance outweighed concerns about recent disclosures that he had been delinquent in paying about $34,000 in taxes.

The vote was 60 to 34. The tax controversy delayed Mr. Geithner’s confirmation and kept him from taking office just after President Obama was inaugurated last Tuesday, as initially hoped. In a desultory two-hour debate, opponents in both parties cited the tax issue as their reason to vote against him, though a couple of populist senators objected to Mr. Geithner’s leading role in the government bailouts of financial institutions over the last few months.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009Politics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate

23 Comments
Posted January 26, 2009 at 7:49 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Br. Michael wrote:

“...but the statute of limitations had run out on the 2001 and 2002 liabilities.”  Did he pay this too?  Or not.  The story does not seem to say.

January 26, 8:53 pm | [comment link]
2. Branford wrote:

So when I don’t pay my taxes and when I take my child’s summer camp costs as a deduction, will the IRS give me a pass, too? Maybe I’ll try it - somehow I don’t think it will work out too well for me. This is how nations fall - the creation of a prevading cynicism from those who pay the bills and create the jobs. Why should anyone take seriously anything this man says? Perhaps if he were heading another department, there might be some leeway. But he’s now in charge of the IRS! Amazing…hope and change, hope and change.

January 26, 9:24 pm | [comment link]
3. Fr. Dale wrote:

The rationale for confirmation was his financial skill.  What I learned over the years was that a persons values are at least important as their skills.

January 26, 9:33 pm | [comment link]
4. Branford wrote:

His financial skill involved helping Citicorp into its current fiasco. There is no one else in this entire country who is capable of being Treasury Secretary who has the skill and didn’t cheat on his taxes? Please.

January 26, 10:19 pm | [comment link]
5. Betty See wrote:

Financial experts have, with great skill, created the financial maze that our government has to contend with now and I have to wonder if more so-called financial skill will dig us out of this maze.

January 26, 10:30 pm | [comment link]
6. Undergroundpewster wrote:

And to think, on November 16, 1939, Al Capone was released after having served seven years, six months and fifteen days, and having paid all fines and back taxes. He could have avoided all that time in Alcatraz if only he had applied to work for the Treasury Dept. instead of against it.

January 26, 10:33 pm | [comment link]
7. jkc1945 wrote:

Ah, that good old change we can hope for, and the renewed hope that change is a-comin’.  What a crock of bull.  Same old same old, business as usual, and it is no wonder that the Apostle John wrote us to avoid the “world” and its systems like the plague.  obviously, none of us can do that completely, as John pointed out, but we surely can recognize, after all, that the “world” and the “Kingdom” are totally and completely antithetical.  Hope?  In Jesus Christ, alone.  change?  When Jesus brings it!!  Not sooner, and no One else.

January 26, 10:56 pm | [comment link]
8. TridentineVirginian wrote:

Ace said it best: “Noted Tax Evader Wins Confirmation as Top Tax Collector, 60-34”

January 26, 11:37 pm | [comment link]
9. ElaineF. wrote:

So much for the hopey, changey thing…

January 27, 12:02 am | [comment link]
10. Irenaeus wrote:

Ace said it best: “Noted Tax Evader Wins Confirmation as Top Tax Collector, 60-34” 

Nonsense. I have known Geithner for years. He is an honest person. I wonder how many of those taking swipes at him would would, under the same circumstances, have avoided the same mistake?

January 27, 12:15 am | [comment link]
11. D Hamilton wrote:

At least the Democrat Senator from Iowa gets it:

.... Mr. Harkin said, “How can Mr. Geithner speak with any credibility and authority as America’s chief tax enforcement officer?”

Honest .... when caught or nominated

January 27, 12:46 am | [comment link]
12. Irenaeus wrote:

D Hamilton [#11]: Geithner is certainly more intellectually honest than many of the people taking cheap shots like yours.

January 27, 12:53 am | [comment link]
13. Branford wrote:

Irenaeus, how honest is it to accept reimbursement from the IMF on taxes one didn’t pay? How honest is it not to pay taxes that one has received extensive information about, as has been reported by many that the IMF provides to all U.S. citizens? How honest is it to count as a tax deduction summer camp for one’s child (when additional information provided by TurboTax specifically tells one that is not a legitimate deduction)? I do not know Mr. Geithner but I do know that many see his confirmation as a continuing symptom of governmental “nepotism” - where those who have connections seem to be above the law. In all honesty, do you think the average American citizen who owed that much to the IRS would get the break that Mr. Geithner received, much less be confirmed to a cabinet position? Be honest, not partisan.

January 27, 1:03 am | [comment link]
14. Rick in Louisiana wrote:

#10 - respectfully, the record is that nearly all in Geithner’s position did *not* make the same mistake.

I am underwhelmed by how uber-superior the Obama Administration appears to be - and it is only the second week.

January 27, 1:48 am | [comment link]
15. Br. Michael wrote:

Irenaeus, self employment taxes are no secret.  In fact most clergy pay them.  But did Mr. Geithner pay the back taxes for 2001 and 2002 even though the statute of limitation ran?  Whether he did or not gives us a real clue as to his character.

January 27, 8:07 am | [comment link]
16. Br. Michael wrote:

Irenaeus, nevermind.  I found the answer:

The President-elect called the situation “an innocent mistake.” How he can make this determination so quickly is unclear. Here’s why: Geithner was audited by the IRS in 2006 for years 2003 and 2004. As a result of this review, Geithner was required to pay more than $16,000 in back taxes. When Geithner became aware of his underpayment issue for 2003 and 2004, with a small amount of reflection, he should have concluded that he would have similar underpayments for 2001 and 2002. So what does Geithner do? He only gets around to paying the $25,000 he owed for 2001 and 2002 in late 2008 AFTER President-elect Obama informed him he would be nominated!

  See: http://www.citizensunited.org/blog/?entryid=8857997

January 27, 8:50 am | [comment link]
17. Jon wrote:

One distinction may be helpful here in the debate between Irenaeus (pro-Geithner) and others on this thread (anti-Geithner).

And that is the concept of the APPEARANCE of impropriety.  Irenaeus feels impelled to defend a personal friend whom he feels we are saying is a bad man, as if we can be certain of his motivations.  So let’s back of then, for love of Irenaeus, if not charity towards Geithner.

The point us that we don’t need to know what was going on in G’s head.  The issue is that (unfortunately for G) his past behavior over the last few years includes actions which APPEAR improper or unethical.  And the specific nature of those improprieties (not paying his taxes) damages his credibility for this particular post (in part overseeing the agency which forces Americans to pay taxes).

There’s no contradiction between claiming that the guy may very well be a good man who never intended anything improper, and also saying that the appearence of the improper actions damages his suitability for the job—one of the requirements of which should be that the American people look to him as a guy who in his own life always paid his taxes.

Many analogies can be found for this in the private and public sphere.

January 27, 10:11 am | [comment link]
18. Jeffersonian wrote:

Nonsense. I have known Geithner for years. He is an honest person.

Apparently, that statement is no longer operative.

January 27, 10:19 am | [comment link]
19. jkc1945 wrote:

Does that depend on what the definition of the word “is” - - is?
Seriously, though my personal tendency is to be hard on government officials, I can actually understand how a person can be completely competent in running multi-billions of dollars on a “P & L,” and yet not be able to do his own taxes.  Einstein, it is said, was continually cheated by the local merchants where he lived as a younger man, because he was not able to accurately count pocket change.  Perhaps Mr. Geithner can be forgiven more easily than it seems at first blush.  I don’t know, of course - - but it might be worth thinking about.

January 27, 10:27 am | [comment link]
20. Katherine wrote:

Jon makes an excellent point, and thanks for bringing it up.  Corporate ethics programs (don’t laugh, many big corporations try very hard to prevent ethical violations in their businesses) emphasize that not only improper actions are to be avoided, but also the appearance of impropriety.  If my husband has a conversation with an employee of a competing organization who has any responsibility for prices or market allocations, even if all they talked about was golf, he must (and does) document the meeting to the head offices, detailing why he was with this person and what was said.

Jon is right.  Mr. Geithner should have either done his taxes right, fixed the whole thing the first time, or employed a professional to do his taxes for him.  Poor judgment and the appearance of impropriety undermine his ability to be trusted at Treasury.

January 27, 10:38 am | [comment link]
21. InChristAlone wrote:

The thing that strikes me about Mr. Geithner is that in the field of economic abilities he is either A) a cheat/liar, intentionally not paying his taxes until he found out he was going to be nominated for this post or B) incompetent in financial matters if he cannot file his own taxes properly in four different years.  Either way, he is not somebody I can respect in this position.  If it were another position the problem would be much less, possibly nonexistent, but it is not another position.

January 27, 11:14 am | [comment link]
22. Branford wrote:

I thought this was reflective of what some of us may be thinking:

You work hard, take care of your family, and pay all the taxes the government says you owe as is typical of honest, upright citizens.

But what happens to your tax money? It is now going to “bail out” firms that pay their senior executives millions of dollars a year. Congress also intends to spend your tax dollars on an $825 billion “stimulus program” filled with many dubious projects and plain old-fashioned “pork.” Many good economists who have looked at the details of the stimulus package believe it has much more “de-stimulus” than stimulus in it and will make the American economy worse off rather than better off.

While you may have thought you are required by law to pay taxes on all your income, you learn the “important” folks in Washington seem to think paying taxes is optional. Chairman Charles Rangel of the House Ways and Means Committee responsible for writing tax legislation has admitted he did not pay the required income taxes on some of his private income (Caribbean rental properties, etc.); and the proposed Secretary of the Treasury, Tim Geithner, did not pay the required income tax on part of his income from the International Monetary Fund, where he worked for several years.

It gets worse. Senate Majority Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, has repeatedly said paying taxes is “voluntary” (see YouTube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQIKJqLIqaE) and that Mr. Geithner’s failure to pay taxes was merely a “hiccup.”

Many other leaders from both houses of Congress claim this failure to pay taxes was a “minor oversight and hiccup” and should not disqualify Mr. Geithner from overseeing the IRS, which, of course, enforces the tax law that Mr. Rangel’s committee writes and Congress passes.

Many of the congressional and media defenders of Mr. Geithner and Mr. Rangel argue that the tax law is so complex it is easy to make errors and some of the law and regulations are vague and unclear. In this, I agree. Like all of my fellow citizens, I do not understand what is in the 65,000 or so page Internal Revenue Code that everyone is supposed to obey. If the leaders of Congress and Treasury agree the tax law is too complex for anyone to be able to comprehend it, and thus people like Mr. Geithner should not pay fines for not reporting all of their taxable income correctly, what possible justification do they have for insisting that those who are not politically connected (and not as well trained in tax law) pay taxes on all their income and pay fines on errors and omissions? Does not the U.S. Constitution say all must be treated equally under the law? . . .

Check out the whole article.

January 27, 11:37 am | [comment link]
23. Allen Lewis wrote:

#27 -

Does not the U.S. Constitution say all must be treated equally under the law? . . .

It does say that. But, once again, we have a case of some people in this country being more equal than others!

January 27, 12:58 pm | [comment link]
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