Monday, January 26, 2009

"Can't We Find Anyone Better?"

I'm still looking for the source of the quote (though I know it was a senator), but I heard it the radio on the way home tonight when the story broke that Timothy Geithner was confirmed by the Senate as Treasury Secretary today.

I'm appalled by this. Why? Because of the, umm, "careless" way (his words) that he handled his taxes a few years ago. They came when he worked for the International Monetary Fund, which--being international and all--doesn't withhold taxes from people who do work for it (but evidently takes great pains to explain to its American employees that they have to report this money as self-employment income). We're talking amounts in the tens of thousands of dollars here, and he didn't pay a lot of it back until he got the Treasury nomination a few months ago.

I get some of my income from self-employment, and if I did what Geithner did, I'd be in prison right now. Why should we hold our public "servants" to any less of a standard? (Indeed, since it's everyone's money we're talking about, they should be held to an even higher standard.) We can't have two Americas here--one set of rules for people in government, and another set for everyone else.

The vote in favor of Geithner was 60-34. And some of his supporters were all too eager to toss aside this ridiculous character flaw:
Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd, Connecticut Democrat, said he did not minimize Mr. Geithner's tax failings, but insisted, "This is one of the most talented people I have ever met in the area of financial services.

"Rather than decrying or lambasting this nominee, we ought to be thanking him," Mr. Dodd said.
Of course, Dodd is mired in scandal himself and none of his colleagues seem to care. Birds of a feather, and all...

But I was very disappointed to see that one of our Texas senators, John Cornyn, voted in favor of the confirmation. Until just a little while ago, I had never written to a member of Congress in my entire life, but here's an excerpt of what I sent to Cornyn tonight:
"I'm sorry, but having some of who "forgot" to pay his taxes in charge of the IRS is like having a crack addict in charge of the DEA. This should have been a game-ender right then and there."
We have to find better people to work in government. Are these truly the "best and brightest" that our nation has to offer?

UPDATE: I still can't find the phrase I thought I heard on the radio, but this may have been what was actually spoken:
Sen. Michael B. Enzi, Wyoming Republican, noted that a number of presidential nominations in the past have been torpedoed for ethical and financial lapses far less serious than those admitted by Mr. Geithner.

"Are we saying there is only one person in the whole world qualified to handle this job today?" he asked.
I'm asking the same thing, Senator. I'm sorry your side lost today. I'm sorry our side (as in the side of the regular, taxpaying American) lost today.

OTHER VOICES: There's plenty of ire being tossed around (including mine) at Althouse, who notes an Instapundit post today that references the classic Steve Martin "I Forgot" comedy bit. (And how funny--or sad--is it that the Martin bit discusses how you can be a millionaire and never pay taxes. Life imitates art...)

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